Ashtanga Yoga is a daily discipline. Once you begin the Intermediate Series, it becomes strikingly apparent that this practice is not a hobby—it is something that will transform every aspect of your life.
The order of postures in Ashtanga Yoga is predetermined and set, reflecting the methodical nature of the practice. When embarking on a new path into uncharted territory, it is important to have a map you can follow. The set series of the Ashtanga Yoga method is a kind of GPS for the soul that shows you a well-established path toward realization that has been empirically proven over years of practice. You can have faith that you will not be led astray. Quite the opposite: the more you practice, the more you will develop faith in this path as you experience its efficacy in your own body.
Some people argue that the set series of poses is boring and that they would rather decide for themselves what to practice in their yoga routine each day. The Intermediate Series is not a light practice to be undertaken for some added health benefits or for pleasure. It is a systematic retraining of the body and mind that works subtle and gross systems in the physical and energetic bodies. It is a sort of Olympic training for the body and soul, and just like an athlete, you need a coach and a method to follow. Most athletes have a coach whom they trust to create a routine that will optimize their performance. The Ashtanga Yoga method is very similar: you build a relationship with your teacher, and he or she tailors the set series of asanas to optimize your journey along the spiritual path of yoga.
In daily life, limitless decisions demand our attention and drain our mental faculties. In an average busy day, you will make a plethora of small decisions ranging from what to wear, what route to take to work, what to eat, and what to buy at the store. These small choices can be overwhelming for the superego and exhausting for the emotional body, resulting in a “decision fatigue” that is more common than you may think. Rather than taking away your freedom, the set series of postures in the Ashtanga Yoga method creates the forum for your mind to experience inner peace through the vehicle of practice. You save your decision-making energy to direct the mind deep within the subtle body. Instead of using your mental energy to make yet another small decision about what pose to do, the Ashtanga Yoga method redefines freedom as being free from mental, physical, and spiritual obstacles.