"How I got hooked on Creative Adaptive Vinyasa Yoga" by Raji Thron

Click on image to purchase Raji’s book on Amazon.com

Click on image to purchase Raji’s book on Amazon.com

"One day, I saw a copy of B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga. I had never seen anything like it. I was so amazed and inspired that I tried doing the Forearm Balance (Pincha Mayurasana) right in the middle of the living room, flipping over several times in my attempts. Randomly turning through the pages, my friend said, “Let’s see you try this pose.” I would try it and he would critique my form by comparing it to the picture. Of course, my poses were nowhere near what Iyengar was doing. My determination to go deeper was only kindled further as I tried difficult poses and couldn’t achieve them. I continued to take classes from various teachers, but even more importantly, I began practicing regularly and intensely on my own. During high school, I began having deep experiences during and after my yoga practice such as profound stillness and energy moving through me during my meditations and leaving my body during deep relaxation.
At that point, I felt Yoga would be with me for the rest of my life, yet, I had tried all the available forms of Hatha Yoga and still hadn’t found the form that clicked for me. That changed when I met Richard Freeman and began studying Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with him. I had found Vinyasa and a wonderful teacher. While I enjoyed the athletic nature of Vinyasa, Richard would consistently remind me of the connection to the inner form within Vinyasa Yoga. My Yoga practice accelerated immensely after I started doing a Vinyasa-based practice almost every morning. It humbled me, grounded my practice, and gave me a path to progress along. When Richard invited Pattabhi Jois, the guru of Ashtanga Vinyasa, to teach at his studio, I jumped at the opportunity to practice with him. Shortly afterward, I decided to study Ashtanga in Mysore, India. While in Mysore, I felt my body shifting and opening. My practice became deeper and more powerful than ever before. I experienced the intensity and transformative potential within the Vinyasa system, which was integrative and almost magical in its simplicity. While practicing and especially afterwards, I felt the Vinyasa practice working on many levels at the same time. The outer practice became a vehicle for my inner practice, while the inner practice was given physical expression. Both of these aspects would linger with me as I went through my day.

Because of this experience, I decided to pursue teaching Yoga fully. After many hours of practice, workshops, teacher trainings and thousand of hours of teaching later, I still feel the same exhilaration that I felt from the beginning. I have had to learn to adjust and change with age and circumstances, but have continued to enjoy my practice and it has helped to enjoy my life. I have learned to adapt my Yoga to my life and my life to my Yoga! A consistent Vinyasa Yoga practice can have a profound impact physically, mentally and spiritually. When it is done with awareness of inner and outer form; a full body, breath and spirit integration, the effect can be far reaching. Not only is it beneficial for physical advancement and maintenance, but also for deep inner growth and realization.

After years of practicing and teaching both pure Ashtanga Vinyasa and a more adaptive Vinyasa practice, I have come to the conclusion that the adaptive approach to Vinyasa Yoga has much more creative potential for engaging a practitioner and meeting them where they are. Vinyasa Yoga can take many forms, depending on one’s emphasis, aspiration and intention. The underlying legacy of Krishnamacharya, the father of modern Vinyasa Yoga, is that he pointed us in the direction of an integrative and flexible methodology for a dynamic, breath-based practice. A creative Vinyasa form can integrate elements from a number of Yoga traditions and styles, which makes it quite versatile. In the pages that follow, you will see how to balance creativity in a Yoga practice with the fundamental practicality of good progressions, alignment and inner intentionality. The outer forms can shift around to some degree, but ultimately we have to keep circling back to certain common core elements. Through synthesizing various forms, the essence of the practice can be revealed! The essence of Vinyasa Yoga arises intuitively from the conscious integration of intelligent practice forms."