June 6, 2013

My venture into Ashtanga

About a year ago I re-started my yoga journey and began to practice Ashtanga yoga.  I had practiced other styles but was not always satisfied with the results.  I am naturally flexible so I never felt fully challenged in certain poses and didn't have the strength for others.   I was just going through the motions.  I needed a change.

I had tried Ashtanga a few years before and SWORE it wasn't for me.  I would get light headed "from the heat" and always felt defeated because I could not do the twists.  The problem was blaming my shortcomings on things I felt were outside of my control, not my need to lose weight and build strength.

So last July my hubby talked me into doing the Matthew Sweeney backbending workshop.  I went and was immediately hooked.  I began going to the Moon sequence class at Tapas Yoga Shala in Rock Island.  I stuck to lead classes because I was petrified to go to a Mysore style class, thinking I could never handle practicing on my own without the constant guidance of a teacher.

Once I felt confident enough in Moon I went to a Mysore style class.  It took many hours of my hubby talking me into it.  I was so afraid of judgement from others, others seeing my shortcomings, what would happen if I forgot the sequence, etc.

That first class I hid in a corner in the back row.  I was amazed at how welcome the other students made me feel.  They asked me about the sequence I was practicing, some knew me as Brian's wife.  It was a comforting feeling.  I do hate to admit that if anyone was watching others in class it was me.  I was in awe of what the others in the room practiced and I wanted in!  I had to learn Primary

At this point I learned things backwards.  Every pose in Moon starts on the left side, every pose in Primary starts on the right.  At first I had no idea what side I should be on!  I did portions of Moon, then added some Primary.  The longer I practiced the less Moon I did, and added more Primary.  Around January I was doing Primary only.

I can remember thinking, I am done with sun salutes I'm almost done with practice.  I am done with standing, I am almost done with practice.  I am done with marichyasana C, I am almost done with practice.  I am done with nivasana, I am almost done with practice.  I am done with drop backs, almost done with practice.  Now I don't even think about being done, I think DAMN, WHEN DID MY PRACTICE BECOME 90 MINUTES LONG????

After these last few months I have seen a great change within myself.  I have lost weight and sizes.  My arms no longer have the turkey wobble (teachers you know what I am talking about)!  My stamina in increased.  I am calmer.  I am happier.  I find I no longer judge others and myself.  I finally feel like everything in my life is where it is supposed to be.

To my fellow Ashtangis I say this:  I love and cherish you all.  You are all rockstars both on and off the mat.  You are my friends even though are conversations are brief and between poses.  You miss me when I am gone, as I miss you.  And always remember, Ashtanga women are strong!