Every year, I come back to the roots of O2 Yoga, back to the Astanga system. Every year, I teach O2 Yoga teacher training from February through June in sections of weeks and weekends. The first week is the primary series of Astanga Yoga. This to me is the foundation of what we do at O2. At the root of O2 Yoga are the Bandhas, the breath, the vinyasa, and the drishti. At the root of O2 Yoga is the eight (asto) limb (anga) path set down by Pantanjali. At O2 most of our classes are varied in postures and focus but they all have a base in this system of some form of sun salutations and standing postures as warm up, postures that focus on forward bending and spinal strength (primary series), postures that focus on back bending, hip mobility, core strength and flexibility, and inverted postures (second series), and lastly a closing sequence designed to cool you down and reverse gravity.
The primary series is called Yoga Chikitsa or yoga therapy. This is the entry point into the asanas associated with Astanga yoga and disseminated by Sri K Patabi Jois, the Brahman priest who brought this practice to India and then to the west. The primary series is designed to strengthen the body throughout, connect students with the breath, build awareness of the locks, and stabilize and clear the mind for deeper forms of asana and therefore meditation. This practice is primarily forward bends which are introspective and calming to the body, nervous system and mind.
We will continue to teach O2 classes with the same variety of focus and asana but will also incorporate many primary series postures. We will also focus more through the month on the foundation of this practice, the vinyasa, which incorporates breath, movement and effort towards steadiness of mind (a classical definition of yoga from the Yoga Sutras).
For this month’s intensive, we will have many teachers on hand to give a hands-on focus to the practice. Prepare to sweat and work hard, be adjusted a lot, and come away relaxed and calm! Sounds good to me!