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  • Writer's pictureAYL

The interview with a yoga practitioner. I have combined the pranayama before the asana.

Updated: May 22, 2022

I found the energy there with breathing, concentration and stable. It's not just the external form of one movement followed by another.

Our intention is to better understand the practice conditions of yogis so that we can teach in accordance with their ability. It should also allow practitioners to better position themselves in yoga practice.

This Shanti Mantra is taken from the krishna Yajurveda Taittiriya Upanishad (2.2.2):saha nau Bhunaktu (May we be nourished in our practice); saha vīryam karavāavahai (May we work together with great energy); tejasvi navadhītamastu (May we studying be effective).

1. What is your job, how old are you, what are your hobbies?

I am an environmental engineer and I am 41 years old. In my free time I do music, especially singing. Otherwise I like to be outside, go for a walk in the mountains, or even an hour by the lake coming home from work. I don't see yoga as a hobby, it's more of a part of my lifestyle.

2. How many years ago have you learned Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga? And why choose the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga?

This is my fourth year. In 2017, I did the introduction course 1 and 2, and then continued with the Mysore course. I have a lot of friends who have done Hatha Yoga, it was very fashionable, everyone was doing Hatha Yoga ... When I looked on the internet and saw your Ashtanga Yoga Lausanne site , I saw that there was something different about the approach, the emphasis and importance of the breath, and the Mysore which is self-independent practice style. Guided lessons are sometimes difficult compared to breathing, while Mysore style practice allows you to follow your own pace. I spoke with a friend who practiced at your place, she said it was really good and constructive. The option of starting with the introduction course and do all eight lessons was a good way to get into the practice and find out if it suited my needs. I chose yoga, because I needed a physical practice, but that was not just physical like running. I also needed something to adapted the accidents I have had in the past. Following an injury, I also practiced Tai Chi, an internal practice based on breathing and it was really amazing to continue to be alive, and to work differently. Yoga is a natural part of this continuity there..

Compared to the practice of yoga what can you tell us, what difference except that the two are part of a spiritual search?

I found that yoga is a practice rooted on what is happening inside was open, where you work on the balance of both strength and flexibility. I had started Tai Chi in the form that is most common in the West, then I met a master who taught a much more martial practice. I found the physical energy there with breathing, concentration and balance. It's not just a series of moves. Many people think that Tai Chi is a kind of gymnastics for the old people, while it is neither gymnastics nor for the old. When you understand what's behind it, you realize that it's not gymnastics, it's much deeper, it's beyond appearances, it's not that simple looks like it. The difficulty of "what goes behind", it can be found in yoga. And I find it all in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Compared to Tai Chi at first glance, it was a mobilization of the body that is much more complete, suddenly, it has effects that are felt faster, but it is also the trap. In Tai Chi, you don't have postures where you sit or lie down, it's still standing postures in motion. The postures and movements in Yoga are more ample, and suddenly the breath is very naturally put in a movement of flexion or extension, while in Tai Chi, there are sometimes more subtle movements, where it is really necessary understand that it is the intention behind. Not that yoga is not subtle, but my practice of Tai Chi has allowed me to understand the subtle and internal aspects of yoga more directly.

3. What were the difficulties you encountered at the beginning of the practice?

One of the first difficulties was breathing: I was quickly out of breath, sweating a lot ... it felt good to be physically active, but I couldn't find calm. The necessary calm, but it came later. The other difficulty was related to my physical rigidity. I was sure I couldn't do what some people do postural, but it's not easy to accept, and to accept to practice "with what I have". But I think that's where the work gets done: Sometimes I need several inhale-exhale to get into a posture, once I'm there I feel all the potential for work behind and therefore, I take a lot more time in some sequence. When I get into a counter posture, it is extremely difficult. But there you go, these are the rules of the game, and the effect is still there, even if we don't go as far as others in the external aspects of the posture. Another interesting point is the difficulty of staying focused and present, when comparing yourself to others, or when your gaze is lost through the window. In fact, I often step back from the window so as not to get caught up in what is going on outside, so as not to lose the presence that practice offers me. It's part of the game to realize that you are gone and then to come back, it is already a step to realize that. It is part of the difficulty of not being distracted by external things

4. Does the practice of yoga produce physical and mental changes in your life?

The practice has physical benefits, both in connection with my injuries, but also on digestion. It also has benefits for the mind, with the work of concentration. This complementarity of the work of body and mind is an interesting way to explore what is going on, to understand what the body is manifesting, and to realize when the mind goes elsewhere and then comes back. Sometimes there are little magical moments when the two work well, body and mind are in sync. Overall, I consider it a discipline that is very beneficial, for me it is part of my lifestyle for the body as well as for the mind. I practice before going to work, and I feel that I have done something beneficial, I have a feeling of well-being and satisfaction, it is much more pleasant also to go to work in these conditions. There, there is a motivation, an energy which is well stimulated. There are changes I can have in my knee injury. This is also what I work around, to find a way, to take care of it even if it is difficult. The practice has a beneficial effect on the pain I may feel in the knee. And this is where I understand suddenly certain aspects of the practice. It’s also a way forward.

5. In your personal practice of asanas or pranayama, what are you particularly focused on?

For the asanas, I focus on the breathing, I get into the posture, and sometimes I have to go back a bit to realize that this is where I have the space, both to breathe and finding myself with the right physical balance is a work of openness, it is really in this space that I try to work. Obviously breathing helps me a lot to create space. To listen carefully and have a full presence in the body, to let the body express itself and say if it's going well or if it's too much, it takes a long time. There are mornings where it is easier than others. Now, I have combined about 20 minutes of pranayama exercises before practicing the asanas, and it is really beneficial. For pranayama, I do not have perspective yet, I try to be in a good position of sitting, posture. I generally feel benefits when I have a pace, a pace that feels right to me. To start slowly and gradually increase in intensity, it's a bit as if you are blowing on a fire, you cannot blow hard right away, it is useless, because it has to take, when you feel it takes, you can intensify and the fire can start to rise, that's the feeling I'm trying to have. I'm very glad I came to those moon days mornings for pranayama. And now I can say that what we do on these moon days is helpful to me in the practice of Mysore asanas. To do about 20 minutes before asanas practice can keep me in a peaceful state of mind. Formerly, I only did the Ashtanga opening chant, which creates a vibration that helps center oneself, and to prepare the motion for practice and be more present. Now, with pranayama, it allows me a greater open-mindedness.

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