Posture chart for the Ashtanga Yoga Second Series
In the Ashtanga Yoga tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the 2nd or Intermediate Series is often referred to by its sanskrit name, Nadi Shodhana. Nadi Shodhana refers to the purification of the nervous system and subtle energy channels (meridians / nadis) that occurs from practising this series over an extended period of time. The Second Series contains several backbends, and postures that require open hips and integrated core strength. Signature poses of the Second Series, Kapotasana, Eka Pada Shirshasana and Karandavasana are expressions of many years of hard work and dedication.
This sequence of poses is taught to students who have mastered the Primary Series and who demonstrate proficiency in backbending (dropping back and standing up by oneself). Before being taught the Second Series, the student is expected to have correct, steady breathing with an experiential understanding of the internal energy locks (mulabundha and uddiyanabandha). Stable drhishthi (gazing and concentration), humility and a strong commitment to the practice are also prerequisites for learning the Intermediate Series.
Instruction is to be had under the supervision of an experienced Ashtanga Mysore teacher. Those practicing or trying to learn the Second series before they have adequately prepared themselves often experience an overstimulation of the nervous system (difficulty sleeping), heightened emotional sensitivity, digestive issues and back injury. When practiced consistently for a long time, the series becomes a beautiful expression of grace, internal purification, poise, strength, stillness and greater self awareness.