Airo Yoga – A complementary practice to Ashtanga
Author: Natalie Basch
There are many different styles of Yoga. The asanas or postures remain the same throughout the different types, but the intensity and vigour differ.
Ashtanga is known to be one of the more “hardcore” and challenging Yoga practises. It follows set sequences that are repeated daily, with precision, discipline and dedication. Not to mention, it’s a TOUGH sequence that ensures you sweat buckets and feel like a floppy fish after, ready to pass out properly in Savasana.
This practice may seem a little stiff and regimented, free from flow and creativity. And this was also my initial judgement of it. However, when I started my practice in Rishikesh in 2020, it shifted my perspective completely. I enjoyed the structure of it. It was easy for me to start a daily Yoga routine, and I saw my practice escalate and develop quickly. I have by no means perfected the sequence, but it brings me a lot of stability and focus in my practice and day-to-day life.
During this year, I started teaching regular Airo classes again and hosted a few Airo teacher training courses. I wondered if I would still maintain my Ashtanga practice and if there would be a setback in my routine because I’d be practising more Airo and less Ashtanga.
I was pleasantly surprised to notice that focusing on Airo did not hinder my Ashtanga practice in any way. If anything, it helped me develop MORE strength and allowed me to work on my lower back flexibility. It improved my Ashtanga practice, with more rest and space for the body to move differently with Airo!
I’ve already incorporated the Airo Yoga swing during my Ashtanga practice to help me with the challenging poses, such as the handstand transitions in the standing sequence. But it’s fantastic to see and experience how Airo Yoga has enhanced my Ashtanga practise overall.
My friend Amina had a similar perspective. She came for a visit and joined my classes and eventually also the Airo Training in Agonda. Amina is a dedicated Ashtanga practitioner and teacher from Switzerland. I was curious to see how she would approach the Airo practice, especially after being such an advanced and skilled Ashtangi.
We had many conversations about Ashtanga and Airo. She also felt that Airo is a beautiful compliment to Airo. One of her key takebacks was that Airo brings back the lightness and JOY into her Yoga practice. While Ashtanga requires intense discipline and focus, Airo allows us to be playful and explore our postures and bodies differently, creating a space for play, away from perfection. She will continue to teach both Ashtanga and Airo at her studio in Switzerland, and it will be interesting to see if other students have similar experiences.
For me, the practice continues, both for Ashtanga and Airo. Ashtanga remains my personal practice, and Airo remains my sharing practice. But I am happy to know that I do not need to choose between either. I can focus on BOTH.
So, instead of choosing between Airo or Ashtanga, do both. You CAN do both. They balance each other – so beautifully, and they support each other.
If you want to know more about starting your Airo practice, follow the link below to the Airo Foundations course.