That home Ashtanga barrier

During our Yatra, we are re-posting some of our top posts from the past 16 or so months. We’ll also try to get new posts up from India, Internet access-willing.


Apologies up front as this is another in our rare (on purpose) posts about our practice.

As I noted earlier, for the coming month I’ll be practicing at home — something I’ve done fairly successfully in the past, but certainly not something that’s my first choice when working through Ashtanga.

But, given the regularity of Ashtanga, there may be value to changing up some other aspects to the practice in order to get fresh perspective and not fall into samskaras. The change from practicing at a shala with a certified teacher to being alone at home has got to be among the biggest one can make.


I recognized today — the first day when I had time to complete a full practice — that I face a barrier when practicing at home that I don’t at a shala. It’s what we call “The Back Nine” of the Primary series: the poses after navasana.

I’m sure navasana is a marker for me because I was kept there for a while; that was the end of my practice. (And, like most, I struggled with the teacher’s call on that.) Now, it seems perhaps ingrained somehow as a dividing point; everything up to then is attainable, “easy” (so to speak). But after is beyond the pale.

I wonder if this is common, if most home practitioners have a point that is a struggle at home that may not be at a shala. (Probably it’s a lot “farther” along than navasana.) And I don’t mean something as explicit as a pose that’s difficult without some assistance. I mean something more… mental.

If so, what might be the cause? What’s the difference externally that results in the difference internally? Is it simply the environment? Is it a subtle peer pressure from others, or perhaps put more positively, is it the encouragement generated by others’ practicing? Is it a revert to an earlier time in the practice, as mine seems to be? Is it something to do with tapas or just having the parampara of a teacher there, in front of you?

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “That home Ashtanga barrier”

  1. THANK YOU for bringing this to light. I totally have that brick wall at navasana. I don’t know what it is either; I wouldn’t describe myself as an ashtangi because my practice is patchy and I still think I have some issues about doing a full home practice, so that’s tied up in there as well.

  2. Yes! I know exactly what you mean. Mine is Marichiasana D. Pushing through is very difficult at home. Does anyone have a strategy? Perhaps acknowledging it to others will help.

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