I promise this is not one of those “I’m quitting Ashtanga” posts.
But I’m feeling the growing, nagging compulsion that maybe I would be better off adding in other yogas to my practice.
I know this feeling is blossoming because I’ve been practicing at home for a month. But it isn’t because the home practice is going poorly. (Or I’d have another great headline: “How practicing at home ruined Ashtanga for me!”) It is going pretty well, aside from the fact that the time constraints that have me home also often limit the practice. But if the goal of yoga is focus — the quieting of the mind — then I’d have to say (despite the irony of judging this) that practicing at home has been going better.
The asana practice isn’t as deep, though. But the mental — emotional? — practice is. I’m sure all the Rolfing is playing into that.
What’s really behind this compulsion are several recent conversations — including with Thad and Frances, the latter of LilaBlog — about yoga in general. It’s clear to me that, despite all the pain and agony of Ashtanga, the familiarity of the practice is a bit of a security blanket now. I’m sure I’ve written this before, but I find safety in knowing what’s coming next. I know when and how and where to modify. No surprises. No Warrior IIIs seemingly out of no where. Zero poses cribbed from Second or even Third Series. I still can’t do it, but I know what I can’t do.
As someone who claims yoga should hurt, such a retreat to a refuge is more than a bit of a cop-out.
Plus there’s another factor: I judge the hell out of those other forms of yoga / asana. They often don’t seem to have the intelligent design of Ashtanga and, frankly, the yoga teachers themselves sometime are lacking a certain gravitas.
(Thad and I have had some online and offline discussions about judging. I think he’s written in comments here or in his own pieces on elephant journal — so I’m not crossing any lines in repackaging his thoughts — that there’s nothing to yoga that says you can’t be judgmental. In fact, if you consider how close judgement and discernment are in meaning, we may actually be seeking a judgmental position — just one that doesn’t bring with it all the pejoratives normally associated with the word.)
But, by judging these yogas — and now I do mean it in the pejorative way — and refusing to try them, what am I missing? I’m not putting myself into new, tapasya-filled experiences — both physically (the unexpected asanas) and mentally (getting past my knee-jerk and negative “judging”) — and I’m limiting my own world. (Bobbie just quoted from our “other guru,” William Blake, about the wrongness of closing up our world.)
The question them becomes: Should I be eating from the yoga buffet? (Also maybe a catchier headline.)
It’s timely because, while my schedule is still making it difficult to commit to an Ashtanga shala daily (oh, by the way, not getting up at 5 a.m. … not breaking my heart, I’ll admit it), there may be some freedom ahead that would allow me to “hit” an occasional flow/power/kundalini/Bikram/Anusara… OK, let’s not get crazy now.
But you get my drift. Maybe things are aligning in a way that’s trying to tell me: Break out of your Ashtanga shell.
Now, could someone please talk me out of this idea?
Posted by Steve