I had my first Ashtanga class on 2/11/2007 at 11:45 on a Sunday. The class was called Basics of Ashtanga (thanks to mindbody for that date).
During that class (where there were only 2 of us and the teacher), I remember how difficult the class was and at the end I decided I would sign up for their 6 week basics series. I had also found my primary teacher; whom I still practice with to this day. I fell in love with this practice for a good 2.5 years. I graduated from led classes to mysore practice. I had a pretty stable 6 day a week practice of full primary and was in the best mental and physical shape of my life at 29.
It was in 2009-2012 that I started to venture off the road of Ashtanga. I had enrolled in a 200hr teacher training and was testing the waters of other practices. See, I had an injury that I blamed on the practice (which is a whole other story, but in the end it wasn’t the practice at all). And to be honest I was bored. Much later down the line and with the guidance of the yoga sutras I realized it is just one of the obstacles of any spiritual journey/practice.
I am very lucky to have a teacher who is always there encouraging my return the mysore room and always with open arms and no judgment. As my practice would fluctuate from 2009-2012; so would my “growth” on and off the mat. I was literally all over the place; mentally and physically. I had very little structure or routine. It began to show in 2013 when I didn’t have the grounded judgment or mental strength needed to work through some difficult situations.
I ended up back in the mysore room late in 2013. Still surrounded by the same faces I saw back in 2007. The community of a mysore room is always encouraging and providing their silent support through the practice. It was during David G’s workshop in October that my passion for the practice was truly re-ignited again. The weekend workshop left me craving that steadiness I would gain after a full practice. It would then carry me through out my chaotic work day and into my evening with a steady frame of mind.
Of course coming back to such a demanding practice now 5 years older and not as strong has it obstacles and the ego…well that reared its ugly with mental chatter like:
I used to do ______ pose so easily now it isn’t close to impossible. Why are my knees no longer able to bend with ease? My backbends suck now! See this is what happens when you’re lazy Flo…
Luckily I got it in check and now it only shows up from time to time, but not nearly as loud as before. A teacher once told me my facial expressions and gestures (like shaking my head at myself) was part of my practice. Part of a mental habit I needed to break. Oh so true….I was judging myself throughout my entire practice. Bad lady.
So, over the last 6 months I’ve gradually gotten back to my roots. Practicing only 2-3 days half primary in the beginning and now back to fully primary (with many modifications) 6 days a week. I began to actually enjoy practice again. However, I am still working on getting up at 5:30AM to practice prior to work rather than fitting it in later in the day. That is still a work in progress.
Fast forward to my birthday weekend of March 2nd, 2014. I attended David Swenson’s workshop in Atlanta. This was even more fuel to my ashtanga flame. Being around a senior teacher that has been practicing this method longer than I have been breathing on this planet in this current body was pure inspiration. His hilarious approach to the practice reminded me of finding the joy in the practice. That you can have a disciplined practice that brings both steadiness of mind and a sense of joy.
As David shared with us: “Some teachers have taken the ashtanga practice and removed all the joy out it. They’ve made it into a tool that we use to beat ourselves up with. When it should be a way to create happiness and joy”