January 18th 2006
Ashtanga course starts Sunday
This Sunday a six week introduction to Ashtanga Yoga begins on Magnetic Island with yoga teacher Dani Ceccarelli. Due to the increasing popularity of yoga on the Island, and the well-know health benefits it brings, Magnetic Times decided to find out more about the course and what it is that makes Ashtanga different from other forms of yoga
"'Ashtanga' means 'eight limbs', which are: moral codes, purifying practices, the practice of yoga poses or 'asanas', breathing practices, withdrawing the senses from the external world, concentration, meditation and enlightenment," is how Dani initially describes the style.
"During the intro course, I'll be talking about all eight limbs, although, in practice,
most people tend to stick to the third one - the practice of asanas." says Dani who has been practicing yoga for ten years.
"When people talk about 'Ashtanga Yoga', they are usually referring to a system of yoga taught in Mysore, India by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois," says Dani who has provided a photo of herself with the remarkably youthful-looking guru who was 89 when the photo was taken in 2004.
Dani with Ashtanga guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India 2004
Talking about what makes Ashtanga different from other forms of yoga, Dani said, "In this style of yoga, the breath is synchronized with a series of traditional yoga poses, resulting in a flowing sequence of movements and producing heat to detoxify the body. It differs from other styles of yoga in its use of breath-and-movement synchronization (as opposed to static poses), the application of muscular 'locks' to promote core strength, the importance placed on deep breathing and the use of 'gazing points' for the eyes."
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The benefits of practicing Ashtanga Yoga are physical, psychological, emotional and, for many people, according to Dani, also spiritual.
"Regular practice results in a strong, supple and pain-free body, a clear and focused mind, and a sense of wellbeing and contentment. The idea is that the physical practice of Ashtanga Yoga can bring about health and balance in the body, freeing the mind for the pursuit of meditation."
"There is a general but mistaken idea that Ashtanga Yoga is 'difficult' or 'advanced'," says Dani. "But each pose in the sequence can be adapted to the needs of those practicing them."
"The course is designed to help beginners explore Ashtanga and find out what works for them," dani says but warns, "Serious health problems, as well as joint and spinal injuries should be discussed with a doctor before attempting any kind of exercise, including yoga."
The course will last for 6 weeks, and will cover the "eight limbs", introduce the basics of yoga philosophy, explore different breathing and relaxation exercises, and offer the opportunity to try simple forms of meditation.
The primary focus of the course will be the step-by-step guidance through the traditional Ashtanga Yoga sequence, in a way that is accessible to everyone and to prepare beginners to attend Ashtanga Yoga classes anywhere in the world.
For more information about the course phone Dani on (07) 4758 1866 or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo of Dani in Dancer's Pose (Natarajasana) taken at Ashmore Reef: Marie Kospartov
Photo of Dani with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: Peter Jackson.