Followed Nancy Gilgoff’s advice, and here’s what I discovered

One of the eye-opening ideas to come to both Bobbie and me at the Confluence was courtesy of Nancy Gilgoff.

Guruji’s Ashtanga yoga is a daily practice, she said. In this, the ever-so practical David Swenson offered what I thought was the lone — the lone — disagreement of the entire weekend. He basically said something is better than nothing. Commit to three days, he suggested.

But, really, this disagreement wasn’t even a full disagreement. Because Nancy didn’t say you had to do a full practice every day. But you do have to practice. (Sort of the middle ground between their points, if you planted them firmly.) Just do three sun salutes and the closing sequence, she said. (This, of course, is a bit of a trap. As we all know, once you get through those first few As, often you just keep going.)

Well, tonight, with the Confluence and a morning at Tim’s behind me (more on that, likely later today), I thought that discretion might prove the better part of valor. I came home intending to follow Nancy’s advice.

And wow.

I’ve done “short practices” before — and as I’m thinking about it, perhaps I’ll look into David’s from his book, as I haven’t really done so, although I think my usual “shorties” are based on what I’ve heard him say — and often find that they allow for more intensity. After all, you know you aren’t going to be doing everything.

This, though, was different. It wasn’t because it was incredibly intense. It was… both compact and expansive. My breathing felt far more rolling and filling — air seemed to touch all parts of my lungs. (I know, yuck, huh?) And I worked up a sweat quickly, internally. It was as if the tapas were just waiting for the excuse. And my concentration was focused.

I feel, sitting here after (probably not smartly in front of a computer) like I’ve practiced; what I accomplished was three As and three Bs and the three closing asanas. I think sometimes, in the past, my “short” practices — typically half primary or some mix of the standing and seated postures — have felt short. This one didn’t.

Now, is that because just doing the Suryanamaskaras and the finishing is somehow magical? I don’t think so. I’m sure it is partly Confluence Hangover, but also it is not just that. It was perhaps knowing that this was part of the committed, daily practice — one my body and my lifestyle can manage.

I very much appreciate David’s perspective given the realities of life, but it took me 15 minutes. What’s my excuse not to practice daily? I’m sure David would say: “None.”

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Followed Nancy Gilgoff’s advice, and here’s what I discovered”

  1. Yes yes, I agree. Having been out with shoulder surgery, I was grateful for a half hour practice, completely modified. And again yes, I think you’re still in confluence euphoria.. I am. Great take on those practice daily and do what you have time for

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