On being a high-functioning Ashtangi

Most of this is taken from a related (or not) Wikipedia entry, with some notable changes:

high-functioning Ashtangi (HFA) is a form of asana addiction where the Ashtangi is able to maintain their outside life such as jobs, academics, relationships, etc. – all while practicing hours-long asana daily.

Many HFAs are not viewed by society as asana addicts because they do not fit the common yogic stereotype. Unlike the stereotypical yogi, HFAs have either succeeded or over-achieved during their lifetimes. This can lead to denial of addiction by the HFA, co-workers, family members, and friends. Functional Ashtangis account for 0.5 percent of total U.S. yogis.

Signs and symptoms

1. Asana patterns

  • When they have one asana practice, they experience a craving to have more and cannot predict what their asana intake will be
  • They obsess about the next time they will be able to practice
  • They behave in ways that are not characteristic of themselves while practicing and continue to repeat these behaviors and patterns
  • Surround themselves socially with heavy asana practitioners
  • Doing asana before arriving at social engagements
  • Setting practice limits (e.g., observing Moon Days and Saturdays, only practicing six days per week) and not being able to adhere to them
  • Driving “yoga stoned” after practice and not getting arrested or involved in an accident
  • Always having to finish an asana or even another person’s unfinished asana
  • Using asana as a reward, except on Tuesdays
  • Having memory lapse due to excessive practicing (blackouts)
  • Taking breaks from practicing and then increasing asana when they resume practicing after a long period of time
  • Not being able to imagine their life without Ashtanga in it

2. Denial

  • Have difficulty viewing themselves as Ashtangis because they do not fit the stereotypical image and because they feel their lives are manageable
  • Avoid recovery help

3. Professional and personal life

  • Well respected for job/academic performance and accomplishments
  • Can maintain a social life and intimate relationships, with suspiciously early bedtimes and odd eating habits

4. Double life

  • Appear to the outside world to be managing life well
  • Skilled at living a compartmentalized life (i.e., separating professional, personal and Ashtanga lives)

5. Hitting bottom

  • Experience few tangible losses and consequences from their asana practice
  • May hit a bottom and not recognize it clearly

Sound familiar?

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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