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

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