Foundation First: Ashtanga Research Course

The 8 day course titled Foundation First serves to remind you of the single greatest principle for doing a yoga pose: begin your pose by building a relationship between the ground beneath you and your skeleton.

The exercises for this course are designed to help you learn how to make your foundation the first priority in building your poses. You’ll see that by establishing your foundation the other steps in the process of building a pose will come together with more simplicity, logic and ease--while anything extra or less relevant will fall away naturally. Over the 8 days of the course you will use the 6 foundational postures of the Ashtanga yoga system and the many transitional set up positions between poses to understand how to make a sound foundation for all poses. You’ll also learn how to work with a progression of steps to maintain a strong foundation as you go deeper into each posture. By doing this course you take a single clear and substantial step towards attaining Asana Vidya--Knowledge of the 3rd yogic limb--and you’ll also get the bonus of feeling empowered and inspired.

Discovering and establishing your foundation is no different than the planning and initial work that an architect or an engineer goes through when creating a structure that must bear weight, provide support and offer protection as well as durability and longevity. The architect draws up a plan using geometrical shapes such as lines, squares, circles, and triangles to come up with the structure of the intended form. Associating the word first with foundation teaches you to make a general rule of attending to your foundation as the first step in doing a pose. Learning to care for the foundation of your posture will give you a better understanding of the purpose of doing an asana and how to extract its benefits. You will also be better informed on how doing a posture relates to the other techniques and how everything fits together to make the overall system.

When your foundation is first you begin each pose by acknowledging and bowing to the physical ground directly beneath you. You endeavor to relate to and trust the earth as your best means of creating a strong, stable stance that supports your spine and clears your mind of unhelpful distraction. You then identify the parts of your body that are in contact with the ground. This is usually some combination of your limbs—your feet and legs, hands and arms and also your pelvis. You weight your limbs, allow them emulate or ‘go with’ gravity and drop towards the earth. You intentionally and meaningfully connect your body with the ground. And then you focus your awareness from the earth up through your limbs and set up a dynamic interaction between them. You cause your limbs to work off of each other in a specific, well targeted play of oppositional forces that animates your skeleton, galvanizes your energy and gives you a strong, stable foundation for your pose. ​

  • Day 1

    Day 1


    The focus for this day is on the foundation of the 9 Vinyasa Positions of Surya Namaskara.
    For the first exercise you’ll place a block between your thighs to bring your attention to connecting your feet and legs to the earth in Samasthiti (Equal Grounding). You’ll move through several cycles ...

  • Props set-up for day 1

    3m 30s

  • Interview with David on How to maximize learning in the video course

    2m 34s

  • Day 2

    Day 2


    In this session you’ll focus on the first 2 of the 6 foundational postures of the Ashtanga system: Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose) and Pada Hastasana (Hands to Feet Pose). One exercise focuses on establishing your leg and arm foundation by exploring the 1st Vinyasa position. First you’ll go i...

  • Props set-up for day 2

    2m 12s

  • Interview with David on Foundation First

    3m 14s

  • Day 3

    Day 3


    This day features work with 3 of the most important foundational standing asanas Uttitha Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolving Triangle Pose and Parvotanasana (Side Intense forward Stretch Pose). First you’ll do exercises working with your back heel at the wall ...

  • Props set-up for day 3

    4m 16s

  • Interview with David about props and why we are using them

    2m 20s

  • Day 4

    Day 4


    This day features Prasarita Padotanasana (Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend) one the 6 foundational postures of the Ashtanga system. You’ll learn about using the set up Vinyasa position to create a strong lower body stance that gives you the freedom to elongate your spine horizontally forward aw...

  • Props set-up for day 4

    1m 55s

  • Interview with David on the Six Foundation Asanas of Ashtanga Yoga

    1m 8s

  • Day 5

    Day 5


    This challenging and fun day is devoted to the foundations of back bending. You’ll work with Purvotanasana (Eastern Stretching Pose), Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) as well some of the foundational back bends from second series including Shalabhasana (Locust Pose) Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) an...

  • Interview with David on the Foundation of Ashtanga Yoga

    2m 6s

  • Day 6

    Day 6


    Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose) is the focus of this session. Like the teachings on Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose) the root pose from Day 1 you’ll come back to the work of creating a clear interaction between your fingers and big toes, hands and feet, and arms and ...

  • Props set-up for day 6

    1m 5s

  • Interview with David on "Ground the Femur Bone"

    1m 44s

  • Day 7

    Day 7


    You’ll return to a study of the foundations of the main standing poses Uttitha Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) and Parivrrta Trikonasana (Revolving Triangle Pose) and this time you’ll also work with Uttitha Parsvakonasana (Extend Side Angle Pose). You’ll use the devices of facing the wall...

  • Interview with David on the Big Toe and Fingers

    1m 15s

  • Interview with David on the subtle aspects of yoga

    2m 27s

  • Day 8

    Day 8


    Arhda Baddha Padmotanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense Forward Bend Pose) is an important foundational pose that can help you to safely learn to do Padmasana, the most classical, potent and alluring asana of all. In this class you’ll study the 1st Vinyasa as the foundational set up position tha...

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