A Battered Ashtangi
There it is, 1 month of Ashtanga, done! My body is certainly feeling the affects in the form of injuries. It’s such a hardcore practice that it would be almost impossible to come out unscathed. In fact, looking back, the classes felt a bit like a war. At the start, students assemble with an intense gaze, say a prayer and prepare for the destruction that lies ahead. Once the battle begins, a shallow roar is heard throughout in the form of a hissing breath. When the soldiers are hurting, various grunts will be heard. Burping and farting will soon occur after twists also. Yogi’s will likely be hopping around, trying to regain their balance, some may not and will fall to the ground. Towards the end some yogis will transcend into upside down beached turtles with their flippers trapped in between their crossed legs in garbha pindasana. It’s actually hilarious to watch humans look so helpless. Finally, once the battle has finish, the victorious hissing breath of ujjayi is stopped and the battered soldiers lay down in their blood and sweat. Some days I performed Ashtanga, other days Ashtanga battered me.
24 battles over the period of 28 days! As every class had the exact same sequence of postures, I did get a bit tired of the repetition. The expectation was the worst, knowing that vomit-inducing pose A is next or that core burning killer pose B is awaiting around the corner. I like to get out of my comfort zone and Ashtanga doesn’t allow me to do that due to the repetition. In fact, towards the final couple of days my body was no longer dripping in sweat. Whilst it’s true I had gotten fitter, the teaching style also changed in the second half. The aspiring teachers began to teach the class and this naturally resulted in a slower than usual class. I hadn’t realised the affect of speed until we did Mysore style Ashtanga. This is where everyone practices the sequence on their own at various speeds without instruction; the teacher would then go around and adjust people. It is here where I realised that I don’t like to hang around and take micro breaks, I wanted to keep up the momentum throughout and was one of the quickest to finish. Quick doesn’t necessarily mean better however, it’s just a matter of personal practice, some people may take 100 minutes, and others may take 75 minutes. For me, I need to go quicker to keep up the heart rate so I’m running and optimum body temperature.
Would I recommend Ashtanga to other Yogis? Well, it depends on what the Yogi needs for their system. For those who are feeling lethargic, slothy and just want to reignite some kind of life spark then yes, I would recommend it. If someone is already quite energetic, cannot focus, always moving then 100% no, it would only make matters worse! If you’re like me and experience both these states depending on the day, it’s probably best to practice only when in need. It’s nice to have installed a sequence where I don’t need to think about what pose to do next or how many breaths to take, every aspect is accounted for. I anticipate it will exist as a background practice in my overall spiritual development.
The conclusion? Well, my back feels like a truck drove over it and my left knee is playing up too. Mentally, I’m wired! I got so much energy to burn, I’m like a portable nuclear plant. Perhaps too much energy as the dynamic nature of Ashtanga has made my focus rather scattered. In the first two weeks, I was keeping up with my meditation and Yin however in the second two weeks and due to certain social commitments, I didn’t keep up my personal practice as much as I’d liked to. Now, it takes a lot more effort just to be still in meditation. This is diverging away from where I want to go. My goal over the coming months is to move towards meditation and away from the asana practice, for this, stillness is absolutely essential.
Next week, I’ll be talking about what yoga actually is. As you know, I have plenty of time to ponder this question and feel that it’s about time I start sharing some real Yogi knowledge with you all. Until then, stay cucumber and peace from the motherland x.