Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Practice of 1st Series of Ashtanga Yoga is supposed to heal the body. It is supposed to purify it and to restore a state of our natural and maxiumim potential.

There are two cases when variants of asana are adapted:

First case is a situation when the body is not able of doing something and it requires to do asana step by step.  Then, the body goes through some stages of doing it before achieving asana’s final version. This concerns people who are ailing, people who had an accident, people who are injuried, disabled or suffer from any other conditions. In such cases, next elements of asana are introduced gradually – one by one, step by step and they are modified both to current body’s abilities as well as to current therapeutical needs of a person.

Another case concerns situations when we have already gone through a long way to achieve asana and we have already learnt what steps were needed (it concerns predominantly teachers) and thus we can support yoga students to deepen asana in their bodies. Then, we work on strenghtening particular elements of asana that are necessary in order to achieve a final version of it. In such cases we strenghten, open up, split work on particular elements and stages and then we join it together so that a yoga practictioner can understand the essence of asana. Such a work is helpful also when we feel that we got stuck in our yoga practice and we do not develop or when we do not know how to work.

A variant should be temporary.

Adapting a variant is supposed to deepen asana and the understanding of it and its working or should help achieve it those who for the time being are not able to do a final version of asana due to a disease.

A regular, mindful and proper practice remains a basis for the rest of yoga students.
Moreover, in order to get a deeper understanding of asana, it can be done mindfully not one but three times. Repeating asana allows us to focus more on particular aspects of asana and then naturally, intuitively or with the assistance of a teacher it is profoundly explored.

Working with asana variants is like going off the track in the mountain. As long as we see a path, we stick to it. However, if we get a bit too distant from it or forget about it for a while, we tend to lose it. It may happen as well that we get too atracted to something that in a long run does not matter and a problem arises when we cannot refer our current position to anything. A point of reference is like a lost track. It gets much harder to find it and return to it.

In such cases frustration and resignation occur because a path back can be a long way back to recover original patterns. This way back also involves removing new patterns that we have already gained while looking for solutions and losing mindfulness. To establish good patterns right from the start is much easier than to remove old habits and replace them with new, proper ones. The body and mind that are used to a given move or to a pattern are harder to unlearn it and instill a new one. An old pattern will still be visible in moves and in a practice.

Thus, adapting variants of asana in cases when one should simply continue practice and confront the difficulties and weaknesses of the body and when one should go through every healing stage consciously and mindfully, represents a subconscious resistance to perform a real work.

First let your body get accustmed to a new position. Breath a full ujjayi breath in this posture. Apply bandhas. Do this thousand of times and then alternatively look for new variants. Make a basis for a proper point of reference.

Asana should get mature which means it should go through all the stages to get achieved. Our task is to get to know and to deepen it i.e. to experience asana when we are weakened and tired and then when we are full of energy; when there is cold and when there is warm; when there is humid and when there is dry; when we slept well and when didn’t’; when we are diseased; when we start to get sick, there is something wrong or when everything is fine.

Then, we learn that asana is not only a position of the body but it is also an impact. Asana permeates us in a particular way which we ‘savour’ and strengthen with regular yoga practice. It requires working with breath and an intentional understanding and mindfulness.

In this way, we get konwledge through a deeper experience, not only a superficial one. A posture – asana – has its original meaning and it exemplifies certain qualities. As we learn them and get rooted in them, we get a firm point of reference. A complete function of asana has to be fulfilled.

Traditionally, a yoga student mastered and hardened fundaments of yoga practice for a long time before he could move further.

It happens often, too, that as something can already happen within the body and as we start to get relaxed and breath properly in a basic asana version adapted to us, our mind wants something else, for example a new variant of asana, instead of remaining in asana a bit longer and confronting what this asana hides.

What it means is that our mind starts to escape or to get bored (which is a form of escape, too) when it touches our complete presence within, when it touches the essence of ourselves that is free from imprinted patterns.

A desire to switch to something new appears – to a new asana variant or to a new sequence, to a ‘new yoga’.

Unfortunately, a new variant most often diminishes the effect of a change (it withdraws us from a border point where a transformation was supposed to be completed) and redirects us somewhere else than we are supposed to. It brings an impression of moving forward and achieving what is ahead of us these are next poses. However, we lose awareness of what pattern got dissolved and what replaced it. A work, in a yoga understanding, was not performed. Asana’s function is not fullfiled.

A variant or a modification of yoga pratice is supposed to address a certain goal related to exploring a particular area of a yoga practice, not only to satisfy needs of a bored or frustrated mind.

Ashtanga Yoga is difficult, demands patience and trust to a method verified through so many generations. It brings us to border points (sometimes these are mind limitations), to the places deep down within us that we are afraid to touch.


Every single crossing of such a border point that involves a consciuos breathing and a mindful, trained mind allows to gentle it and, after a longer practice, simply to dissolve it.

Is not it an actual goal of Ashtanga Yoga practice?

Variants of asana