I recently traveled for work to San Fran and while I didn't have a chance to explore the city much, I - obviously - made it a point to explore some local Ashtanga shalas and practiced with Magnolia Zuniga.
While Magnolia is definitely an impressive practitioner, some of the feedback that she gave me left me with mixed feelings. She said that I have a very low bandha awareness because, specifically, my stomach was moving in Purvatanasana (the pose above), which means that I am not engaging my #uddiyanabandha.
I actually thought that was a valuable feedback, although I've never heard this before nor does Yoga Mala point this out. She also said something like that if you're not using the bandhas properly, you're faking your way through the series. While I kinda know what she meant, I think faking is too harsh of a word. Because that would mean that only a handful of people have the real practice, and the rest of us are just pretenders.
Yes, alignment, drishti, bandhas, breath are the foundation of the Ashtanga method. But I think dedication is what separates true practitioners from pretenders, no matter where you are and how high or low is your bandha awareness. With dedication, everything else will come.