Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WoYoPracMo | Day 15 Back to Ashtanga

I went for an Ashtanga class last night. Missy, my yoga buddy said to me as we were entering the studio, "So, you're still alive?"

Yes, it has been 15 straight days of yoga and I'm still alive. In fact, I feel VERY alive, thanks to the rejuvenating Power/Ashtanga classes I have been doing. I even feel stronger – which amazes me because 15 days of practice couldn't make that much of a difference, could it? There's more spring in my steps these days –- probably because there's this great reserve of energy that have built up from the practice, but I have been trying to remind myself to slow down and move in a more mindful manner.

Last night was my third Ashtanga class of the year. I first tried Ashtanga back in 2006, and I still remember how my body ached for 4 days after that first class. I had never done so many vinyasa in a single class ever before -- all that chaturangas, upward-dogs, downward dog. It took me a while before I went back to another Ashtanga class.

It was a fond memory, because my body no longer ached that badly anymore. One always like to see some tangible progress for all the effort made, and it is comforting to know I have grown a little stronger and more flexible since that first class. I still have problems with the Marichyasana binds though, and I still need to work on my standing balance poses.

I noticed something during my Ashtanga class last week. I am still trying to figure out the mula bandha, and often I would forget about the root lock while moving from one asana into another. But that night, as I attempted to maintain the mula bandha diligently, I felt a significant lightness in the practice. I breathed more easily, I felt more strength in my body – most of all, a greater awareness of my core. I wondered if I was imagining all of these – but the practice felt wonderful.

One of my teachers once said, "In the beginning, we work with the grossest level -- the body. As we progress, we start to look into the more subtle levels of the practice." Is this what she meant?


Rebecca H. said...

I'd love to take an Ashtanga class! I took a workshop once, which was great, and I have books about it, but don't have classes available. My vinyasa class is close in spirit, though. I bet 15 straight days of yoga does make a HUGE difference -- I notice a difference in flexibility and strength even just practicing three times a week for a couple weeks.

darkorpheus said...

Ah, Dororthy, Ashtanga can take over your life. :) I look at the regular Ashtangis at the studio, and it's true -- there is a certain look in their eyes sometimes -- the discipline instilled by the Ashtanga practice is awesome.

For now just keep practicing. You never know - a Ashtanga teacher might just set up shop around your area soon. After I left my gym, I started looking for a proper yoga studio to practice. I looked around for more than a year before I found my current studio -- which is in the same building as my office.