How long before you’re a seasoned Ashtanga practitoner?

This week, I was recounting our Yatra to some people I work with, and as often happens there was some surprise at everything involved.

Feel free to Google me and find out why — its not like I work at a organic farm or something. (Nor do I work at SUNY. But I’m not far down the list.)

Tim Miller doing his best to make Steve's down dog part of the canine species.
Tim Miller doing his best to make Steve’s down dog part of the canine species. About three years ago.

This time, the subject of yoga came up, along with a pretty basic question: “How long have you been doing yoga?”

I said six years, which (after trying to check and see on some calendars) may have been a year longer than is right (going back to when I dropped any other “workout” for just Ashtanga) and joked that it was three years more if you counted a temple ceremony I was at during our first Yatra. (Cue confused looks.)

Six years seemed like a long time to them.

But, of course, it isn’t. But also — it is. It’s not like I’m a newbie, although I usually feel like I am. But I figure I’m at the point where I’m probably sticking with it.

The exchange got me wondering if there are any unofficial — or perhaps purely personal — milestones along the Ashtanga practice path. And I mean time-wise, not pose-wise or Series-wise.

If someone has been practicing for five years, do you figure they know what they’re doing? Bobbie, I think, is getting close to 20 years of yoga practice, with some of those years more intense. But I’m sure it is 10 or 11 years of Ashtanga by now, maybe 12.

Once you get into double-digits, are you seasoned? The senior teachers/practitioners have been at it for 30 years and more. That’s a lot of vinyasas.

I know, of course, that this practice is very individualized. What I’m wondering about is, really, a gut feeling. If you meet an Ashtangi who says he/she has been practicing 20 years, do you do a double take? Is the reaction less for 15? Is there some bar that is just really long?

Posted by Steve

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

7 thoughts on “How long before you’re a seasoned Ashtanga practitoner?”

  1. I think around the 3 year mark.L, in my humble opinion… Based on the first year being the introductory to sun salutations, standing, memorizing asanas, breath, drishti… Then if one decides to stick with it after that, then another year of learning lots about themselves, deciding if they can handle the repetition, wait for extra poses from their teacher. Then another year of confidence and comfort with the practice when reading, research, and self study goes deeper.

    Richard Freeman has one of many enlighten sayings somewhat related to this. On his site, talks about the three-month love affair with yoga.

    At this day and age, if someone told me they’d been practicing for 6 years, I would consider them seasoned for sure, because if above reasons. And, if I think 6 years ago from now, that was a time before the explosion of accessibility of Ashtanga videos, blogs, and online material. So one must’ve been very interested or lucky to have started around that time and stuck with it since!

    Congrats to you and Bobbie on your seasoned practices!

  2. I’m an adherent of the 10,000 hour theory. Applied to most endeavors — it takes about 10,000 hours of practice achieve a basic level of mastery (e.g., in physical endeavors — to develop the neuromuscular substrate for the activity to a point where it can be said that you have reached a basic level of proficiency). Practice, of course, need not simply be asana. So . . . at roughly 3 hrs/day — call it 10 years.

  3. I started Yoga in 1976, Ashtanga in 1993. Or was it 1992? But I have medical issues, so I’m pretty sure someone could take up Ashtanga and pass me in no time. Not ‘seasoned” necessarily yet I’m still learning and improving. On the other hand, so much of the instruction I see in videos and in books seems simplistic, repetitive and elementary to me, so who knows. I just know I gotta long way to go.

  4. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga for about 5 years and other yoga for a whole lot more. In my humble opinion it’s less about doing (though the framework will contradict me) and more about falling into it. Going through the motions, the injuries, the healing, the process and observing the physical, the lack of the physical and dare I say the energetics of being with wherever you are at that time. How does the sutra go? — and now, yoga….. That place or non-place only takes place when your life is free from numerous distraction and you can fall in. Well, maybe….

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s