Lately, I’ve been absolutely fascinated by the idea of taking up an ashtanga practice. As much as I adore my vinyasa classes (there’s a pretty decent overlap between the two, asana-wise, except vinyasa is basically a freestyle ashtanga, where as ashtanga has a very set order of poses.) I’m starting to like the idea of really honing my discipline and focus by concentrating on mindfully moving through the primary series and really working pose by pose before progressing to the next one.
I have a tendency to lose focus mid-anything and would love to learn how to harness that focus. It seems like it would also be very beneficial for exercising patience and non-attachment (aparigraha.) I’d like to learn how to stick with the pose and get it right instead of getting frustrated and moving on to something else that I find easier or more comfortable.
So, what is stopping me? Well, apparently, I’m still feeling a little resistant to the discipline of a 6 days/week practice, working on the same series. I can easily manage 6 days of vinyasa because you never know what sequence you’re going to get next. With ashtanga, I’m going to get the same.damn.series every day. I’m also hung up on the idea that maybe I’m too old? Many of these practitioners started out in their 20s, so by the time they’re my age, they’ve been at it for 20 years. It’s humbling. Yowza. I was living a life of next to zero discipline in my 20s.
Fortunately, I’ve found a few other ashtangis online that have discussed their foray into the practice in their 40s. If they can do it, I can do it. There is one fellow who was quite overweight and chronicled his journey and the difference a few years made was truly astonishing.
And then there’s Kino MacGregor, ashtangi extraordinaire. I am awaiting the arrival of her book, The Power of Ashtanga Yoga, which should arrive any day now. I just adore her. She moves with such control and grace and seems really down-to-earth and straightforward in her instructional videos. She’s definitely a huge inspiration for me.
This whole paragraph from her blog REALLY resonated with me and I’m going to say it’s been my strongest impetus to go ashtanga.
“The recommendation to take on a six day a week practice is often hard to accept for new students, so new students can easily build up to a full six day a week practice by starting with three days a week. Then once that level of regularity is established one additional day a week can be added every six months until the full six days a week is within reach. One other crucial shift must happen in order to facilitate the transition into full immersion in the yoga tradition. You must make the transition from a fitness oriented approach to yoga into a devotional one. By getting this subtle shift you will gain consistency and regularity in the way that you do your practice. A daily spiritual ritual where you take time to connect internally to a deep sense of yourself requires dedication. The requirement to practice six days a week is meant to develop the kind of mental, spiritual and devotional determination needed in order make progress along the internal path of yoga. If yoga is meant to be a life long commitment to inner peace it behooves yoga practitioners to practice as much as they can. If you only practice when it is convenient or when you feel good then yoga is more of a hobby then a lifestyle. But sincere spiritual practice has never been a leisurely activity if it is to produce the results of awakening. True spiritual practice is an unbroken commitment to do everything it takes to see the deepest truth there is. It is not something you can choose to look at only on Monday and Wednesday for an hour and pretend it does not exist for the rest of the week.”
Hopefully, putting it out there means it’s too late to back out now! Wish me luck and yoga on!