When people find out that I’m an Ashtangi, the conversation often turns to yoga and sometimes includes opinions and notions about the style I love so much. It can go from a declaration about what a kick ass workout it is, how some of the asanas look like something out of Cirque du Soleil and “can you do that?!” often follows. But then there are the folks who find the repetition of poses in a particular Series to be monotonous. And others still who blame Ashtanga for a series of injuries that so-and-so had after practicing. Admittedly, Ashtanga has gotten a bad rap in the injury department. It is an athletic form of yoga, and often attracts the Type A personalities who like to work their edge–no matter what the endeavor, yoga or otherwise. But that same person will likely get injured no matter what style they practice! Pushing yourself too hard to get into a pose that your body isn’t ready for can result in injury whether it’s Ashtanga, Anusara, Power, or Hatha. (In fact, I know someone who stopped going to Ashtanga because of a hamstring injury… and she later was injured in another class, in another studio, because she pushed herself past her edge.) But I digress.
Why do I love this style of yoga? I love the challenge of it. Yes, the sequence of Primary Series is the same every time I do it, but my experience changes each and every time. I never tire of the practice because it truly does become a moving meditation. I don’t have to make my brain think of what to do next. My body knows. It humbles me to see the way the most amazing garbha pindasana one day can turn into a big ol’ mess of hands mashing through lotus another day and then morph once again during another practice. It has made me listen to my body in a way that I never had before. It can sometimes be easy to disconnect and push through something–running, cycling, weight training, etc. But with yoga, the inner voice can speak loud volumes (if you listen). The beauty in that is the way the inner voice can continue to speak while running, cycling, weight training… 😉
I can go on and on about my love affair with Ashtanga… and maybe I will sometime. But until then, enjoy this blog post that I found from Karmela Johnson:
photo credit: Gosia Janik