Progress in Ashtanga Yoga
Ashtanga yoga is often seen as a 'progressive' practice where you learn one posture at a time, only progressing to the next once you’ve shown some level of comfort in your last posture.
There are some general guidelines for when you should move on, but ultimately it’s up to the discretion of the teacher (lots to say about that)
There comes a point where advancing doesn't really mean moving forward in the sequence but moving further in. Your practice sequence getting longer as you add more postures, at first is this physical, tangible expression of advancing.
But then there's a shift.
You realize that binding in a posture, for example, and showing to the outside world some level of competency is only what the eye can see and so far from the full picture of where you are in the practice of yoga.
Progress isn’t linear and looks very different on the outside from person to person.
You can practice the same set of postures for years and advance in the practice in huge ways. You move in by better understanding and more importantly, experiencing the internal form of a posture. You learn to control the breath with more precision and skill. The attention is more easily reigned in to a single point. You learn to let go of all your ideas about a posture and experience it with a beginner's mind. I’m sure this list is endless, but I’m still learning.
One of my favorite things about this practice is that I could be applying these same 'advanced' skills for the rest of my life and not get bored, even if the outside looks the same.
There’s always a new edge I discover that keeps me curious for more.