Thursday, 2 May 2013

Am I doing Traditional Ashtanga?

It has been officially five months since I've transitioned from a daily Mysore practice at David Robson's shala in Toronto, to a home practice in whatever bedroom / living room / hotel / hostel / kitchen floor I happen to be inhabiting.

What has been the result?

1) A Really Disgusting Run-Down Yoga Mat that has not been Cleaned for Five Months

Need I say more?

2) A Return (Sort-Of) to Running

After David Robson had shattered my dreams of becoming a ultra-marathon runner (just kidding, I can hardly make it to 10K without crying), I had stopped running all together.

While traveling, it's been hard to run or do yoga consistently, so I was keeping a very low mileage and spotty practice for a couple of months. Only recently have I begun consciously raising the running bar, and my Ashtanga has suffered for it.

This week, I've decided to do no running and come back to a daily Primary Sequence practice.

3) My Notions of "Traditional Ashtanga" have Changed....Drastically

I believe in the benefits of a daily traditional practice, and I believe this practice is right for me.

However, I wish there were teachers out there telling me that you do not have to practice asana when you are sick, on a Ladies Holiday, or doing something wonderfully beautiful like surfing or kayaking with dolphins. I've gotten myself in such a bad mood sometimes because I had to "miss" my full practice. Or, if I manage to squeeze in a practice, I am often incredibly tired and foggy for the rest of the day. How is it that I let something that's supposed to make my life EASIER suddenly make my day horrid, guilt-ridden, or completely drained of energy?!

So I decided to let go of the frustration that comes with a full daily practice.

And so much changed as soon as I did that.

If I am tired, I will do the sequence until I have had enough. I save my energy for my day.

If I do not have time, I will put together a short-form Ashtanga and not feel guilty about it.

I have stopped counting how many days a week I have done a full sequence. In fact, I have stopped doing FULL VINYASAS (I know, *Gasp!*) and it has made the vinyasas I do more fluid and strong. I have even backed off from the poses that are too difficult for my bum knee (padmasana, you impossible duck), and concentrated on the poses that are best for my body (Janu shirshasana A 3x for the win!).

I am happy about this change, as it has freed me from a lot of negative emotions without leaving me yoga-less. Until I return to Toronto where I can afford a Mysore practice, this is more than enough.

4) No Longer on a Fence, I am Firmly in the Ashtanga Camp...that is, Both Feet In. 

I know I just spent the last point saying how much I've deviated from the traditional sequence. But I think my home practice has made me understand the intent of the tradition more and more.

Before I left Toronto, David Robson told me that home practice would sharpen my focus more than the Mysore class.

And it has.

I unroll my mat every day and do a series of asanas in the quiet of my own body, no external cues, no external distractions. Each day, it is a challenge to bring my mind into a meditative state, and it's an addictive challenge.

Other yoga teachers I know practice with DVDs, or under the guidance of another teacher. While there is nothing wrong with this (hello my love,!), my most meditative and peaceful sessions have always been my quiet little Ashtanga ones.

For all you Ashtangis out there, what do you make of this? 
Have you ever done a consistent home practice? 
Have you ever done Ashtanga on the kitchen floor? 
Am I spouting heresy and should I be kicked out of the Ashtanga Camp?

No comments:

Post a Comment