This week’s Ashtanga lesson: Wow, my practice sucks

Before anyone gets on me for judging my practice, a quick primer:

I don’t believe that the lesson of yoga is to learn that I’m perfect the way I am or to accept my place in the world or anything of the kind.

It’s a modern form of Tapasya, an attempt to burn away “the bad fat,” as we read in Guruji’s Yoga Mala, in both its literal and figurative forms. It’s hard. It’s rough. It’s grueling.

And, apparently, I still suck at it.

Good reminder, especially with the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence just a bit more than a month off. I won’t be setting my mat down directly in front of Richard Freeman, I can tell you that.

The funny thing is, I have Bobbie to thank for the lesson.

During her Intro class last night, she joined the 10 students in the room in practicing. It’s something Tim Miller does regularly, and Bobbie’s Led class is designed to move students along so they can begin a Mysore practice.

With her just calling out the names of the poses and then the fifth breath, it was a good “baby step” that way.

It was that fifth breath that was the real teacher.

Her five breaths were anywhere from seven to 11 of mine, and I think I probably missed a few poses where the count went even higher than that.

Medium breath, indeed! I’m apparently closer to a hyperventilating hyena than an Ujayii expert. And this is supposed to be the year of the breath.

Which is good to know. You know, before I go getting too cocky about being able to pick up and pull back.

I’ve got a to learn and a long way to go. Which isn’t a surprise, but it was a timely — if slightly roughand tough — lesson.

Rough? There’s that word again. Perhaps it’s all just part of the Tapasya.

I did, at least, seem to be having an easier time of it than all the “newbies” in the class. Perhaps surprisingly, despite Bobbie’s really stepping up the “Ashtanga’s hard” lesson, the response from the students was pretty positive.

I wonder how they’re feeling this morning, though.

Posted by Steve

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theconfluencecountdown

Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

7 thoughts on “This week’s Ashtanga lesson: Wow, my practice sucks”

  1. “It’s a modern form of Tapasya, an attempt to burn away “the bad fat,” as we read in Guruji’s Yoga Mala, in both its literal and figurative forms. It’s hard. It’s rough. It’s grueling.”

    Very well said. I totally agree 🙂

    “And, apparently, I still suck at it.”

    Hmm… but what would it take to not suck at it? “Mastering” a new pose every couple of days? Finishing third series before one turns fifty (I don’t know how old you are…)? And why does it matter if somebody else’s five breaths are seven to eleven of yours? I mean, if somebody else’s five breaths were seven to eleven of yours, would that person suck as well?

    Personally, if I were you, I would so totally set my mat in front of Richard Freeman if I were going to the Confluence (which I’m not), no matter how “badly” I “suck.” Because–not to sound crass or anything–isn’t there such a thing as getting one’s money’s worth? 🙂

  2. “if somebody else’s five breaths were seven to eleven of yours, would that person suck as well?”

    I meant to write, “if somebody else’s seven to eleven breaths were five of yours, would that person suck as well?” But I think you get the picture.

    My apologies for hijacking your comment thread.

    1. No need to apologize!

      But, yeah, I think you described mastering pretty well. Maybe a pose a day, even. 🙂

      “Still suck at it” is just a nice shorthand way of saying, “Oh, right. Still have a long way to go.” But — given my Tapasya description — I didn’t want to let myself off easy.

      And I do plan to get my money’s worth at the Confluence.

      1. So glad to read this post and know I’m not alone – I am starting to have some trepidation as well about the Confluence, with these same thoughts of self judgment and comparison. Not correct!

        I alway try to remember Sutra 1.14 – It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed.

        “Positive attitude” and “long time” being the key words for me – correct is up for debate, LOL. Seriously, though, when I think about 1.14, I realize, “I don’t need to “Get it” in this lifetime!” Phew – what a relief. I takes the pressure off, or at least, much of the very natural desire to “master” postures.

        Practice and all is coming.

        So, no hiding in the corners, Steve. Let’s “own” it! If you roll your mat out front and center, I will, too! Deal?

      2. It’s starting to sound like I don’t have a choice! 🙂

        I signed up for Freeman’s backbending class… and backbends are “not coming,” so I’m planning on putting myself through the fire.

        Plus, if I can survive one of Bobbie’s “I’ll practice with you” classes, I think I can survive anything.

        Look forward to seeing you at the Confluence!

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