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For a beginner to Ashtanga, not yoga - and only half of first series
on October 15, 2010
Ashtanga is generally not considered 'for beginners', but this DVD presumably means it is suitable for intermediate yoga practitioners who are new to Ashtanga. Some might find the title misleading. However, since it only contains around half of the first series (most, though not all, standing postures), it is not all that different from the what you may end up doing in the first half of many vinyasa / power yoga style classes. Some beginners may be OK with this DVD. If you have been to some vinyasa yoga classes before and are able to do them, you should be able to do this.
However, if you want something to cue you for an Ashtanga home practice, you presumably want something which contains the whole first series (and if you find something like that, you should only do it if you're relatively experienced and have preferably been taught Ashtanga before). I was very surprised to find that this did not contain the whole series. (It goes up to Parsvottanasana). I think it's a great loss to leave out the later postures, which works various other parts of the body and also leaves you far more stretched, relaxed and peaceful (although they're still very demanding and can still make your heart pound) - it's the floor postures that really do that.
However, to encourage beginners or relative beginners: it's not all that different from my first vinyasa / hatha yoga classes, which generally tend to contain sun salutations plus some other standing poses at first, and those classes were surprisingly hard (and I was only 29), so I sympathize with other reviewers. However, I would encourage you not to be hard on yourself and not to expect to be able to do it the way the instructor does (or other students, if you're in a class), and to know that you will get stronger in small increments. A friend of mine told me it gets easier with every practice. I'm not sure if that is always true, but it will certainly get easier overall with time. I've certainly seen many stories of huge improvement from various people, many much older than I am.