Indications for a good practice of Ashtanga Yoga
Practice on an empty stomach! Wait at least 3 to 4 hours after the meal. Water or herbal teas can be taken in small quantities before practice, if you feel the need. Never drink during or immediately after practice; wait at least half an hour. If you feel your throat dry, a little sip of water will be fine; saliva is sufficient to moisten the throat.
Empty the intestines and bladder before practice. Sun salutations, standing postures and inverted postures will improve bowel functioning. In case of cold, flu, indigestion etc., a day of fasting is recommended which will make the body more flexible. Eating too much food is an obstacle to proper asana practice.
Comfortable, elastic and not bulky clothing is recommended, preferably in natural and non-synthetic fiber which helps perspiration and sweat absorption. The body must be free of necklaces, watches, rings etc. The practice is done barefoot, the socks can be worn during relaxation.
Get ready to sweat profusely. Do not be afraid of sweating and feeling tired, put your attention on breathing. With breathing and movement a new energy will arise within you, thereby eliminating tiredness and strengthening both the mind and the body.
Do not strain too much in posture or movement and do not contract the muscles which must be toned but relaxed. Try to keep your face relaxed and not to pour out anger and frustration on your body. Yoga is an opportunity to work on your emotions rather than deny them and project them outward.
Breath awareness is the basis for proper asana practice. During the practice Ujjay breathing is used: the throat must be relaxed by slightly closing the glottis so that the air entering and leaving will produce a light sound. The quality of breath in Ujjay breathing must be gentle, deep and strong. A deep exhalation will end below the navel, a deep inhalation will expand the back, the lumbar area and the chest around the diaphragm, filling the heart area.
The gaze, Drishti, is important in the correct practice of Ashtanga Yoga. In every posture and during every movement between one posture and another there is a specific point to look at. If you can’t use the right Drishti, focus your gaze in the direction of stretching or twisting while still staying focused. The look helps to find balance and after a few years of practice it gives a relaxing effect to the body and mind. In any case, the approach with drishti must be gradual because especially at the beginning, it requires some effort which can cause headaches.
Remember to always use the Bandhas during the practice, the internal locks: Mula Bandha, the contraction that extends from the anal sphincter to the urogenital area; Uddyana Bandha, the contraction of the area placed three fingers below the navel.
The movements between the postures are very important and are part of the practice as they are complements of the Vinyasa system together with the asanas; how to enter and exit postures is an integral part of the form. In Vinyasa, inspiration and exhalation are always synchronized to a precise movement of the sequence. Breath is the heart of this yogic discipline and connects one asana to another in a well-established order.
There is a logic in the order of the asanas. Each posture or group of postures has a particular effect that is balanced and rebalanced by another posture or group of postures. This is essential for accumulating the beneficial effects of asanas and for protecting and balancing the body during practice. For this reason, it is strongly discouraged to skip asanas or to freely switch from one posture to another without following the sequence. By following the correct Vinyasa you will have very fast progress in practice.
At the end of the practice, relaxation is very important and must always be done. The final relaxation allows the practitioner to enter a meditative state to calm the body, mind and listen to the sensation of our practice. It is good practice to cover yourself because it brings the body back to a normal state after intense work which has caused it to warm up strongly. By not relaxing, you may feel tired and irritable.
The practice should be done every day, but sometimes it takes time to get to this continuity, which varies depending on the person and which is used to get the body and mind used to this discipline. In the case of a daily practice, during the week there is always a day of rest and according to tradition, the days of New Moon and Full Moon are respected in which it is not practiced.
Women during the menstrual period should not perform inverted postures and in case of daily practice, a break in the first days of the cycle is strongly recommended.