Many students often wonder why we repeat the same sequence over and over. Ashtanga Yoga is a systematic, structured sequence-led practice. One remembers the sequence and practices up to the last pose given to them by the teacher. Everyday is the same sequence.
The intention is to train the mind and the body to attain steadiness and cultivate mindfulness over a period of time. As there is no anticipation to the next pose so this will allow the student to focus on the breath and gazing (dristhi) point. This minimises distractions and anxiety to what’s coming next during the practice.
Practicing the same sequence will also allow the student (and the teacher) to observe the progress of the practice. At the start of learning a new pose, one may struggle with the breath and remembering the proper vinyasa. As the practice progresses, the same pose may be more manageable and one will experience breakthroughs – more flexibility, strength or ease with the vinyasa (jump back or jump through). We become better through (mindful) repetition.
Students may also find themselves caught in a rut of boredom. Often this is when the mind starts to get distracted and that is when self doubt sets in. ‘Is the practice working for me? This is getting boring! Why do I have to keep repeating the same sequence?’ It is important to remember repetition builds habit. Perhaps you should ask – ‘How is the practice making me better? What is the practice helping me to cultivate? Am I more calm and happier after the practice?’
Do you question why you have to brush your teeth, eat, sleep or drink? You don’t because these are daily acts that keep you alive. Similarly practicing the same sequence daily will help you to cultivate focus, concentration, increase the quality of your life and build a healthy body. Boring (maybe) at times but an essential for your mental and physical wellbeing.