The Ashtanga system provides us with a template from which to work from; allowing us to establish a baseline which we utilize each time we step on our mat. It’s a daily observation over a long period of time of the subtle and not so subtle changes to our physical bodies, our state of mind, our emotional response, the list goes on.... A beginning student will and should stick to the template and get to know it well: gaze here, put your feet here, arms there.
But as we learn and grow, we can explore different variations of the asanas, moving our bodies according to what we’re needing that given day depending on energy level, emotional state, time, specific areas of need- again, the list goes on... Here, I’m moving through 10 different versions of Adho mukha svanasana (down facing dog). Don’t be afraid to explore, it’s a vital aspect of the practice!
Teach yourself to listen in, hear what your body is telling you, respond accordingly, observe the process objectively, repeat.... “There is no substitute for attentive repetition”- Coyle