The 5 Allies of Ashtanga

Here are some notes from David’s lecture this past weekend on how to “Fortify Your First Series”.   Hope you find this enlightening; I certainly did.  These are seemingly simple points about practice but they are so very essential.

So, how do you “fortify” your practice? Well, first of all, you just have to do it.  Practice – 6 days a week!

Be ready for your practice.  Be rested, clear-headed and empty.  Make decisions that will help you practice better.

Observe your appetites in life with more care and awareness.  Notice the effects of your decisions – physically and more, in practice and off the mat too.

Basically, eat less.  (haha – that’s literally what it says in my notebook, but he didn’t say that point-blank.)

Notice the benefits from your practice (hopefully there are some!).  Observe your body, your health and consciousness.

From this observation, make the connection between your practice and your feelings – this will strengthen your faith to practice with more gusto, more trust!

Over time and with enhanced observation, your relationship to your practice goes deeper – from gross to subtle.  Perhaps your intention for starting yoga wasn’t necessarily “to know God”, maybe you just started because it looks totally rad – either way, your practice will get deeper if you stay with it, stay present and observant always.

Your practice is your time to research and to get to know yourself.

Asana practice is a very sharp blade – it cuts through our awareness into consciousness, SO….you better be ready for what you will see/feel/experience and have a context for it by turning your intention inwards!

Beautiful asana shapes are beautiful because of the soul that went into making them.  (Whoa….so right on.)

The signature of Hatha Yoga (Ashtanga) is that you develop your consciousness THROUGH your body.  The body-centered practice turns your awareness to the true center, to the wisdom within.



Simply put, you must have “free breathing” .

Open the root of the palette in the mouth.  This gives an express connection to the central axis.  Root of palette to root chakra.  With this, each breath illuminates sushumna nadi.

The more you tune in to that process of consciousness-opening and elevating breathing, the more you will actually want to practice.


The precise positions, the sequences with order and form. The movement’s intent is to corral the mind so you can stay present.

Vinyasa uses economy of movement with mechanical sensibility.

Proper vinaysa uses the structure of the skeleton appropriately and well.

Following the pranic patterns to their extremities leads to the vinyasa positions.


Follow the vayu pattern to its end, you discover bandha – the automatic “redirect” of prana/apana.  Just look – follow the breath – bandha is there.

Each of these allies builds upon the others.  Bandha comes from vinyasa, which comes from breath.  Practice is a discovery process of these allies in relationship.


Gazing and sensing – all sensations focused!  Dristhi is not simply the direction of the eyes – it’s the focusing aspect of consciousness.

Your eyes are opposite your tail – Get a feeling of from where you turn your gaze, feel it from the tail to spine to the whole neck/head/eyes.  This is a connection and context to take into consideration when thinking about dristhi.


The quality of attention, awareness and concentration.  Dhyana = absorption.

Remember your “home base” – your orientation within the body, within the series.

There are many opportunities to return to the alignment and groundedness of home base.  Home base is  – samasthi, dandasana, padmasana, sirsasana and chaturanga.

Return to these places to reorient the body with action and receptivity.

Formidable! (He literally said that right then, so I wrote it down….sounds best if you say it in a French accent…DG does not have a French accent despite his French name, but nevertheless…formidable!)




BOOM!  Hope that translated somehow.




(beautiful image courtesy of Daily Cup of Yoga)


6 thoughts on “The 5 Allies of Ashtanga

    • David,
      I’m honored that you visited my blog. I know my words can’t do full justice to the extent and depth of your lectures – which were fabulous this past weekend – but I’m happy that you believe I gleaned the right information from them!
      Thanks for all that you do.

  1. Thanks for your notes from the workshop – it’s so interesting to learn more from truly experiences teachers.I’m also following David’s Youtube Channel and although I’ll probably never meet him in person I really learn much from him & his videos. Glad that you can learn directly from him 🙂

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the notes. He is certainly an excellent teacher and his videos are the next best thing…

  2. Pingback: Eddie Stern on the underpinnings of a spiritual search « The Confluence Countdown

  3. Pingback: My Achy Shoulders and the Trappings of Ashtanga. | Lila

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s