I enjoyed watching the DVD “Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga with Kino, Greg and Tim“. I find it an excellent resource for beginners, and a very complete, well-rounded introduction.
Kino -you probably heard of, is the director of the Miami Life Center. I met her in Mysore earlier this year and she catapulted James (my husband) into the Ashtanga hall of fame when she published in her Facebook page that he had been completely humiliated by yoga…
Tim Feldman is her husband and co-founder of the Miami Life Center. He is a long time student of both Lino Miele -he mentions him in his portion- and Pattabhi Jois.
Greg gives a solid -if brief- overview of the history and philosophy of Ashtanga. I was left wanting to hear more.
I particularly liked how he includes us, you and me, into the mix, which is something I firmly believe in. We are, after all, the living tradition:
“…As modern day yogis we can begin to expand the definition and raise our expectations of the practice”
The end goal is also pretty clearly stated: with practice we will be able to stop those jerking re-actions that cause us troubles:
“...Committed yoga practice offers us a system to change limiting patters of identification in our minds and body so we can experience greater freedom and reduce the suffering that is common to all human beings.”
Tim Feldman takes over for the breathing section and has a wonderful 3-part way of explaining the contraction in the throat by which the breath is lengthened and controlled. He has plenty of demonstrations and works with Dora, to show the movements in the body of a female.
Towards the end he also talks about vinyasa “without which it is not ashtanga yoga“, and has a brief but effective demonstration of how to unite the breathing to the movement in a simple standing to squatting mini-sequence.
“Once we do this practice shanti -or peace- finds us“, says Tim, who has a nice accent and clear eyes, and you believe him because you can see the radiance in him.
The good news: Kino goes through the primary series and it only gets to Janu Sirsasana A, which means it is a short practice, with the whole adventure at 1 hour and 9 minutes. Great to start with.
She begins with the opening chant and a translation side by side. Greg is next to her and he makes modifications so that the practice becomes possible, no matter what level. For instance, it was good to see the bent front leg in triangle pose –as an adjustment–.
The level of detail in the voice instructions is outstanding. It never stops and gets very specific. This is necessary for those first couple of practices as a strong point of reference to notice everything that has to happen in each and every asana and transition. There is a lot going on indeed.
There is no 1-2-3-4-5 count for the breath while in the poses -as is customary in Ashtanga led classes-, rather extra bits of direction are heard so that the practitioner knows exactly what has to be engaged, thrust-ed, extended, worshiped, etc. For example, for the sun salutes:
“For sun salutation begin by allowing your breath to awaken the inner sun … allow your self to salute the sun and the inner fire…”
The Sanskrit is kept to a total minimum with the name of the pose in that language only mentioned before each pose, which is always beginner-friendly way to go, so kuddos to that.
Finally, the back bending is fully modified by Greg making it possible (especially when seen next to Kino) and the closing is complete with full modifications.
So there you have it, a great introduction DVD to Ashtanga. I wish it had been available when I started.
21 Things to Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice