The topic of Ashtanga needing to evolve is all up and in the intewebs today.
Here is the question.
Who says when it is alright to start making changes and how does one know that person is not coming from straight ego? Who says what should evolve?
What I have witnessed, is changes coming from ego and changes coming from a place of profit. What I have witnessed is super confused students because different teachers are telling them different things and each one has an anatomical scientific reason for why their method is correct. What I have witnessed is dis-empowered students whose practices are not moving forward because they are listening to 15 different voices in their head. I have witnessed students confused because one authorized teacher is saying Guruji told them this way and another authorized teacher is saying Guruji told them another way. I have witnessed people who are not even on the path of Yoga. They are on the path of asana because they are so busy fussing with their bodies that they have completely missed the point.
I am down for innovation but if you look at our planet, innovation done wrong, causes destruction instead of growth. If this innovation comes from ego, in the long run, it will do more harm then good.
I am sorry, just because someone has been practicing for 30 years and they originally practiced with Guruji, does not mean that their innovations are not straight ego.
I practice Ashtanga because a set method makes things simple. If I have to sit around and debate about whose modifications or changes I should use, then that leaves little time for the cessations of the fluctuations of my mind.
Yoga Sutras 1:30-1:39 talks about the obstacles to practice and says that they can be overcome by choosing an object of meditation.
What are the obstacles ? Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:30
vyadhi = disease, illness, sickness
styana = mental laziness, inefficiency, idleness, procrastination, dullness
samshaya = indecision, doubt
pramada = carelessness, negligence
alasya = sloth, languor, laziness
avirati = sensuality, want of non-attachment, non-abstention, craving
bhranti-darshana = false views or perception, confusion of philosophies (bhranti = false; darshana = views, perception)
alabdha-bhumikatva = failing to attain stages of practice (alabdha = not obtaining; bhumikatva = stage, state, firm ground)
anavasthitatva = instability, slipping down, inability to maintain
chitta-vikshepa = distractions of the mind (chitta = mind field; vikshepa = distractions, diversions)
te = they are, these are
antarayah = obstacles, impediments
These are the accompaniments Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:31
- duhkha = pain (mental or physical)
- daurmanasya = sadness, despair, dejection, frustration, depression, anguish
- angam-ejayatva = shakiness, unsteadiness, movement, tremor of the limbs or body (anga = limbs or body)
- shvasa = inhalation, inspiration (implying irregular inhalation)
- prashvasah = exhalation, expiration (implying irregular exhalation)
- vikshepa = distractions
- sahabhuva = companions, accompaniments, correlates
Going back and forth about how Ashtanga should and should be taught will definitely have you stuck in the realm of obstacles. I am not saying you should not question. I am saying, don’t get stuck there. Like don’t get to the point where you can’t see the forest because the trees are blocking your way. The ultimate goal of Yoga is beyond props vs no props, straight legs vs bent knee jump troughs, handstands vs no handstands, Guruji teachers vs Sharath teachers. Move forward in your Yoga practice. Pick a teacher, be happy with your choice and don’t judge everybody else’s.