I'm spending some surfing around in the cyber shala. I mentioned before that the cyber shala was an important part of my practice when I lived in Kentucky. Even though I now have a place to practice, I still like to watch videos of other people's practices. I find them extremely inspiring. Lately, I'm watching a lot of Pincha Mayurasana as I struggle with this asana.
This is a good one. This is not what my pincha looks like...yet!
I also read a lot of other blogs. This week, I found this one particularly provocative. Personally, I don't understand why yogis engage in this kind of debate. If you don't like ashtanga, don't practice it. But if you don't practice it, and practice it regularly, you really shouldn't make proclamations about who else should or shouldn't be practicing it. Anyone can practice Ashtanga yoga if they want to. It is not for a particular body type or age group. I have seen people with all variety of injuries (shoulders, hamstrings, wrists), physical limitations (overweight, severe arthritis) and ages (a woman in her mid-seventies practices daily at the studio I went to in Boston) with beautiful Ashtanga practices. Sure, their practices didn't look like something from a professional yoga video. But they were doing the work day in and day out. That's what the practice is about.
Personally, I can't comment on Bikram, since I don't practice it regularly. I took one Bikram class several years ago with a friend. Guess what! It didn't resonate with me. My friend loved it. Who cares? The only sad thing about it is that my friend and I, while we both love yoga, wouldn't be practicing together.
One yoga is not superior to another. It's a personal choice. I would add however, that if you find a particular style upsets you in some way, maybe you should spend more time in that style. Maybe your aversion to this yoga is something that you need to break through and your aversion to it is something to work on through your practice. Your aversion might be revealing something about your ego, your attachments, your idea of what your practice should be. But if it's just a matter of preference, knock yourself out. Practice another style!
In my conversations with people who are curious about yoga, I never recommend Ashtanga or any particular style. As a matter of fact, I'm very reluctant to tell people very much at all about Ashtanga beyond the basics. I always tell them that they should try many classes and figure out which one they are most likely to go back to and enjoy and that they shouldn't judge Yoga on one class, one teacher, or even one style.