Paul Fox Answers Your Ashtanga Questions

Paul Fox Answers Your Ashtanga Questions


Q1) I know that traditionally Ashtanga should be practiced 6 days a week but I just don't have the time! How often would you recommend practising? PAUL: Your yoga is there to support your life, not to become a burden or an obligation. On the other hand, the discipline of regular practice is what brings about transformation of the body, mind and consciousness. I enjoyed the luxury of practicing 6 days a week most weeks while I studied with John and Lucy Scott for two years, although I couldn’t always fit in a full Primary Series if I was working an 11 hour shift at the BBC. Now that I have been practicing for 13 years and have hit my 50s, I am more and more convinced about the need to adapt our yoga practice to our lives. So my advice would be to do as much as you can, enjoy every practice and don’t feel guilty when life events, injury or illness disrupt your usual routine. For me personally, I practice some yoga every day and aim to do a full ashtanga practice three times a week.

Q2) I always feel very tired after practice! What is the best way to help my body to recover? PAUL: If you are always feeling tired after you practice and not energised, then it may be time to consider the kind of practice you are doing, how suitable it is for you and how you do your yoga. With a controlled and steady ujjayi breath and the engagement of bandha (subtle core) your yoga should build and retain energy in the eastern and western sense. If your breath or bandha is slipping away, then that might cause fatigue. Otherwise, examine the intensity of your practice. Are you depleting yourself with too much strong yoga? Consider integrating some restorative classes into your schedule if you are pushing yourself too hard. Finally, remember that relaxation at the end of class is as important, if not more important, than the posture work in terms of purifying and restoring the body to full health.

Q3) What would you recommend for a quick 15 minute practice? PAUL: Sit cross-legged and centre yourself – 2 mins

General mobilisation – cat and lying twist for the spine, side stretches from extended child’s pose, downward dog for the hamstrings and to awaken bandha (core), low back-bend lifting away from the floor from lying on front to strengthen the back and open the front of the body – 5 mins

Sun salutations or earth salutations (sun salutations from kneeling) for dynamic breath and movement that will raise heart rate and blood flow – 5 mins

Sit cross-legged and do alternate nostril breathing (morning practice) or Savasana (evening practice) – 3 mins.

Q4) I like to have breakfast before a morning it ok to eat just an hour beforehand? PAUL: Yes if you keep it light. Try a banana and/or one slice of toast.

Q5) What is your favourite time of day to practice and why? PAUL: Late morning before lunch or late afternoon. I know it should be first thing in the morning but I really am not a morning person! Is used to have to do full Primary Series at 6am when I was on John Scott’s course. It was a challenge!