I chatted briefly with a friend yesterday. Well, actually I sort of unloaded on her all of those feelings about teaching I’ve been having lately. She was part of that original community that has since disappeared, and although I didn’t directly ask her why she no longer came to class (it doesn’t matter, she’s my friend no matter what), we did briefly talk about her issues with ashtanga:
“I felt like with Ashtanga it’s almost an all or nothing. To really see improvements i needed to practice A LOT more than I was. But if I mix up my styles, it keeps my interest rather than reminding me that I’m not practicing enough, you know?”
Hm. Interesting. And that’s exactly one of the reasons I love ashtanga. It really is a practice where, in order to receive its full benefits, it is helpful to practice regularly. It lends itself well to self practice, as well. She asked if I would consider teaching other styles of yoga. No, I don’t think so. It wouldn’t feel right. She asked if it was the structure that attracted me to ashtanga. I thought a lot about that this morning, I kept revisiting the question during my practice. And I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, it is the structure that I love, and no, it’s also other things.
I do think the stability of a set sequence of poses appeals to me for several reasons. Every morning, my practice is different even though I’m visiting the same asanas, entering the poses in the same manner, moving through each vinyasa in the same way as the day before. My body accepts the practice differently each day, as does my mind. I never get “bored” with ashtanga, or haven’t yet, but I think that’s just part of who I am as well. I’ve become a creature of habit, and ashtanga has really helped to define that part of my person.
Above all, I love the structure of my practice because it allows my mind to empty. Before I began practicing ashtanga, I would roll out my mat for self practices about twice a week in between vinyasa and power yoga classes. And there was always part of my mind thinking away about what I should do next. What would feel good now? Should I do a few more standing poses? Ooooo twists. Maybe some twists now. Am I warm enough for backbends yet? Nah, maybe a few more seated poses first. I distinctly remember several times standing there on my mat trying to decide what would come next in my impromptu sequencing. Now maybe this is because I recently ranked a whopping “1” on Decisiveness in our company’s personality profiling (out of 10, 10 being the most decisive, 1 being the least… it’s a wonder I can even dress myself each morning). Maybe this is because I’m just not a creative person in this regard, I’ve always sucked at dancing/choreography/sequencing movements. But for this reason, I love ashtanga. I know what comes next. I don’t have to question anything. I just do. It just does. And because of this, I can find the meditation in each vinyasa, the quiet mind, the solid breath.