During my lunch break today, I trolled through some Ashtanga blogs and one word kept leaping out at me: “lonely.”
There was the Ashtangi who lost her job at a yoga studio and seemed to feel, as a result, more cut off and isolated. There’s an Ashtangi in Mysore who avoided some of the “Mysore Circus” socialization. And there were about a handful more.
It really didn’t take very long at any of the sites to find something about being lonely.
Why is that?
I realize, of course, that Ashtanga is a fairly small slice of the yoga pie. (What flavor is that pie, anyway? Coconut? Mango? Maybe chocolate, in honor of Guruji?) Big, corporate-type studios will have dozens of flow classes but maybe one regular Ashtanga class, if that. On Los Angeles’ Westside, there is a crazy concentration of yoga studios but, as far as I know, Omkar 108 is the only one that’s primarily Ashtanga focused.
I think we all know why this is: Ashtanga is hard, and if you follow its early-morning practice schedule, it’s doubly difficult.
So, by default, if you have a room of 100 yogis, you might only have a handful of Ashtangis.
But it’s more than just that, right?
Is there something to the explicit focus on all eight limbs that enforces an inward turning that leads to the loneliness?
Perhaps it is just the type of people whom Ashtanga attracts. Slightly lonerish Type As?
Of course there is the ultimate “lonely” part of Ashtanga: the home practice. I assume other yogis practice at home, but I don’t feel like there is quite the same emphasis on such a practice. (It could just be I don’t know any at-home practicing yogis. But how can your stereotypical yogi practice “chatter-ranga” at home?)
Even Mysore practice is “lonely.” Sure, you are in a room with a bunch of people, but you are all doing your own thing. You might be on Dandasana while the person to your right is just setting up and chanting the opening prayer and the person on your left is already in Sirsasana. Led classes are the one break from this.
And even then, if you’ve got your dristi focus, you won’t know the crowd is there.
Is the loneliness part of the draw?
Posted by Steve