What’s the big deal about quitting Ashtanga?

During the past few months, I’ve seen — but, I’ll admit, not read — a couple handful of posts, from something as big and mainstreamish as Huffington Post to individual blogs, all about quitting Ashtanga.

Judging by the titles and the first line or so (which is about what I see in a Google alert of via Facebook), they are anguished, soul-wrenching accounts of giving up Ashtanga or having Ashtanga, seemingly, give up on the writer.

What’s the deal, I ask.

I know the easiest answer here is: Read them for yourself, dude. And a fair point. But I like to spend my time reading things I think will be productive, and for me these aching accounts aren’t that. I think my discrimination about such things is pretty consistent here.

Perhaps some of you have read them and find something… I don’t know, is it uplifting or affirming? Is it a certain schadenfreude? Do we all really agonize so much about our Ashtanga practices?

And if so, why exactly?

Posted by Steve

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theconfluencecountdown

Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

3 thoughts on “What’s the big deal about quitting Ashtanga?”

  1. Hi Steve
    I have seen some of these posts and read only one. It was not productive or motivational or thought provoking. I’m going to use that article to guide what I am writing and can only assume it relates to other articles of similar content.

    The article I read saddened me to see how a practitioner of many years had come to miss out on so much of the practice. Based on what was written, it seemed to me that they were speaking of ‘Ashtanga’ as simply the sequence performed on their mat each morning. From what I have seen, if one misses out on the other limbs (other than asana) or other texts they can study, they will probably come to a point where they feel like they’re selling themselves short.

    I’m writing this because I would like to encourage and remind the practitioner reading to seek MORE if feeling unfulfilled, not to do less.
    Study something, practice something, motivate yourself and see if you feel any better. There are so many resources at hand and if you aren’t motivated to sort yourself out, then reach out! The ashtanga community is overflowing with passionate practitioners so positive and willing to support and uplift those who need a bit of a boost (and we all need that sometimes).

    The specific post I read focused on restrictions ‘necessary’ for the practice (such as food, alcohol, bedtime and the negative affect it has on one’s social life). It seems to me, that in a situation where those things (even though they do, without doubt, support the practice) get in the way of making you feel like your true self – the solution is not to cut a spiritual practice out of one’s life- but, perhaps an adjustment before such a radical decision is made, and an article so unwittingly charged with self-degredation is written.

    Perhaps it was written because the practice is so full of love that when one feels disappointed by it they need a way to get it out there, or perhaps it is a cry for attention. I simply don’t understand how someone not wanting to go to bed early, or have a glass of wine can’t rather do their physical practice in the evening before going out- or shorten their asana practice significantly or just have a three day a week practice or just eat a small dinner when they go to a restaurant- I could go on but I think you get it.

    It’s a bit disappointing that it’s possible to practice for so many years and still not have the clarity of mind to calmly dissect and understand one’s own emotions.
    Hopefully they’ll take a breath and realise they just raised their arms, and that it makes everything feel much better 😉
    May they find what they are missing.

  2. Hi Steve
    I have seen some of these posts and read only one. It was not productive or motivational or thought provoking. I’m going to use that article to guide what I am writing and can only assume it relates to other articles of similar content.

    The article I read saddened me to see how a practitioner of many years had come to miss out on so much of the practice. Based on what was written, it seemed to me that they were speaking of ‘Ashtanga’ as simply the sequence performed on their mat each morning. From what I have seen, if one misses out on the other limbs (other than asana) or other texts they can study, they will probably come to a point where they feel like they’re selling themselves short.

    I’m writing this because I would like to encourage and remind the practitioner reading to seek MORE if feeling unfulfilled, not to do less.
    Study something, practice something, motivate yourself and see if you feel any better. There are so many resources at hand and if you aren’t motivated to sort yourself out, then reach out! The ashtanga community is overflowing with passionate practitioners so positive and willing to support and uplift those who need a bit of a boost (and we all need that sometimes).

    The specific post I read focused on restrictions ‘necessary’ for the practice (such as food, alcohol, bedtime and the negative affect it has on one’s social life). It seems to me, that in a situation where those things (even though they do, without doubt, support the practice) get in the way of making you feel like your true self – the solution is not to cut a spiritual practice out of one’s life- but, perhaps an adjustment before such a radical decision is made and an article so unwittingly charged with self-degredation is written.

    Perhaps it was written because the practice is so full of love that when one feels disappointed by it they need a way to get it out there, or perhaps it is a cry for attention. I simply don’t understand how someone not wanting to go to bed early, or have a glass of wine can’t rather do their physical practice in the evening before going out- or shorten their asana practice significantly or just have a three day a week practice or just eat a small dinner when they go to a restaurant- I could go on but I think you get it.

    It’s a bit disappointing that it’s possible to practice for so many years and still not have the clarity of mind to calmly dissect and understand one’s own emotions.
    Hopefully they’ll take a breath and realise they just raised their arms, and that it makes everything feel much better 😉
    May they find what they are missing.

  3. My 2 cents…I think these pieces may have nothing to do with the audience but more as a catharsis for the individuals writing them. At times the intensity of ashtanga can be consuming for so many (myself included) so perhaps leaving it calls upon some grand gesture in order for release/closure….If I ever do leave ashtanga man oh man, forget about a blog post….there will be balloons, violins, monkeys beating on drums……(which is probably reason enough to keep at it haha!)

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