Predictability & Control
Ashtanga Yoga is also about predictability and control - two key aspects that can bring our body and mind into balance. We practice the same sequence each time we come to the mat for predictability & control, but it has some additional benefits too:
Calm - Repetition enables us to learn the sequence so well that it becomes second nature, eventually it becomes a soothing, calm and joyful moving meditation. The mind can become still, the breathing become steady and the nervous system can come into balance bringing our whole physiology into balance.
Control - No matter what has happened that day or week, we know we can get onto the mat and practice a sequence we know well and which nourishes body and soul, we know we can do something to support our mental, spiritual and physical health.
Balance - The sequence is balanced so that we use all parts of the body across all planes of movement. If we were just to practice the asana we liked (likely those we find easy?) we will strengthen that which is already strong - bringing ourselves further out of balance. The set sequence ensures we lengthen that which is strong and short, and we strengthen that which is long and flexible - so even when we aren't standing on one leg we are balancing 🙂
Checking-In - Ashtanga yoga is a brilliant personal health check for body and mind. Practicing the same balanced sequence of asana each time we come to the mat we can tell if something has changed and then we can think about why and whether we want to do something about that. Is it a positive change? Or if it's unhelpful are we tired, hyper, holding onto an emotion or thought, hungry, do we need to get something checked-out, do we need to talk about something, get more sleep?