The First Series is the foundation of the practice of Ashtanga yoga. Without a proper grasp, our Ashtanga building lacks firm ground.
Also known as Yoga Chikitsa or Yoga Therapy, its practice enables physical, mental and emotional steadiness and healing.
We shouldn't take the First Series for granted. In fact, the answers to many of the challenges we encounter in more advanced asanas usually lay in the strength of our foundation.
Below some considerations about the effects of a well established First Series practice.
We Become Grounded
Grounded in the sense of physically strong, emotionally steady and mentally free. Of course, this a multi-year process and a regular practice is only the start.
In contrast to Second, the Forward Folds in the First Series place the emphasis on the exhale. There is a reigning apanic pattern that facilitates a deep connection with the core, which eventually dictates how the body moves.
The relevance of the exhale also allows a gradual unfolding of Moola Bandha, the energy valve associated with the root chakra, which governs essential needs like safety. Moola bandha, aka citta bandha, "ties the mind". When the mind rests at one point our perception shifts and our actions become a reflection of that change.
We are Cleansed
Cleansed from the inside out. The First Series produce a profuse sweat which makes the body more liquid and expels toxins from our internal organs.
The forward folds and deep twists tackle the digestive tract, where according to the Indian science of healing every disease has its origin. By the cleansing of the organs of digestion, we are not only improving our physiological digestion but also our ability to assimilate emotions and experiences.
We Reframe our Views
A regular practice of the First Series will challenge our physical, mental and emotional patterns and beliefs. The practice will shake us to our core and eventually make us assume new views and ways to relate to ourselves and to others.
Our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing are constantly questioned and eventually old identities and behaviors will be ditched and replaced for others more in alignment with a higher version of ourselves.
The First series are the first steps in releasing the hala hala, the poison of our conditioned existence, the patterns that hold us back, so our full potential may be released.
For a visual reference of the First Series, I encourage you to view this video with some of Guruji's old students
Authorised teacher Ajay Tokas beautifully demonstrates what Perfection in the First Series means
If you wish to download a practice chart, find Sharath Jois' here