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ASHTANGA YOGA & CHRIS

 

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is one of the  most popular hatha yoga systems in the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya, in which we dynamically switch between several postures and try to breath in a certain way. But Ashtanga Yoga is way more than what we see and practice on our mats: literally translated it means "the eight limbs". Some of them are visible, others can be physically felt and some lie beneath our imagination.

 

It would have never come up to my mind that Ashtanga Yoga would accompany me for so long when I first got in touch with it. In these days I worked as a aerobic and fitness trainer and had to be persuaded to take part in a yoga class. I left the familiar area of weights and arduous fitness classes, and stepped onto the mat. The physical part of yoga got me right away and in the weeks and months after my first class I implemented more and more yoga elements to my fitness classes. This way my participants and I received the benefits of the asanas (yoga postures). I slipped into the role of being a student more often and gained knowledge on the mat. This was back in the years 2004/2005.

 

But this was only the beginning of a long journey. I was curious about the other limbs of Ashtanga Yoga – everything that was waiting there besides the asanas. My travels through the south-east of Asia as well as my enthusiastic reading of Patanjali´s sutras and several other books about Ashtanga Yoga got me deeper into the world of yoga. I learned a lot about the effects, values, the philosophy and meanings of Ashtanga. But the interaction of the practice taught me the biggest part: the interaction between me as a student and the teachers all around the world on one hand and between me being a teacher and all the many students of mine on the other hand.

 

Four years after my first sun salutation I opened my own yoga studio. Since then I teach my students the essence of the yoga system: the mergence of asanas (postures), bandhas (energy locks) and drishtis (gazing points) called tristana. These elements lead to a wonderful energetic cognition and concentration. One of the most important guidelines: 99% practice and 1% theory.

 

Mysore style teaching is the traditional way of guiding a class and it’s one of the basic elements in my classes as well: everybody practices in their own pace, in individually adapted intensity and range. The groundwork of my teaching comes from the several series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in the tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. But most importantely I accompany my students on their own path (yoga). They receive individual adjustments, assistance and support and I guide them deeper into their practice gradually. Newbies and advanced practitioners are practicing together in one class, which creates a unique energetic and social atmosphere - the practice becomes a meditation with static and dynamic parts.

 

Looking back I can’t only  see the students transform, it is also me as a teacher transforming continuously. My own understanding of my role as a teacher as well as the way I teach changed tremendously. I would have described myself as a yoga teacher in earlier times, especially in the beginning of my teachings, sticking hard to the tradition of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Nowadays I would describe myself as an accompanist, a initiator or supporter of all these many individual paths. I keep the tradition in mind, but I am focusing on individuality.

"Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Man who doesn't have strength can practice. Except lazy people; lazy people can't practice ashtanga yoga."

(Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, 1915-2009)