Monday, November 8, 2010

Adventures in Ashtanga - Yoga for the everyday teenage boy?

I'm currently in the last part of my 200 hour teacher training at YogaWorks, led by the majestically wonderful Chrissy Carter and Jenny Aurthur.  I'm sure I'll write a whole entry (or four) devoted to how amazing they are, and how much they have both changed my practice.  Before I started my 200 hour training, I was "teaching yoga" privately to some of my personal training clients. Now, of course, I realize that while I thought I was teaching yoga, it was much closer to, "hey, we're both in the same English class - want me to help you with your homework?" than actually teaching.  With the 200 hour training, I feel vastly more confident and able to offer concrete tools to my students, who thankfully are growing in number rapidly.

Anyways, during yesterday's teacher training, we had an Ashtanga practice, led by Jenny. 
Jenny Aurthur, one of my teachers.  She is, to put it mildly, BADASS.

 Ashtanga yoga, created by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, is a fascinating form of yoga that is meant to be practiced six days a week, in a set series of poses, usually at your own pace (So, not let by a teacher.)  It is vigorous and athletic, originally created for teenage boys to release excess energy.  (For more information on the practice, you can read more here.)  The YogaWorks method is a combination of Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga, so it was a great experience to have a "pure" Ashtanga practice.

This was one of the more difficult practices I have ever attempted.  Ok, let's be honest - it was by FAR the hardest practice I have ever attempted.  Five surya namaskara A's  (and no, mine does not look quite like that), five surya namaskara B's (nor that), followed by more vinyasas (complete with jump forwards and jump backs) than I could shake a stick at.  I could barely get through half the postures, and the other half didn't look quite so elegant, either.  I realized about 20 minutes into it, I had two choices for the practice - laugh or cry.  It would have been very easy to just give up or be miserable or self-criticising, but thanks both to Jenny and Chrissy's humor-filled attitude, and my own growth in the past few months, I treated Ashtanga like a playground of discovery.  The most fascinating part of the practice was, there were quite a few areas that I had previously been struggling with that just came naturally during Ashtanga simply because I didn't have time to think about them.

Anyways, it was really an adventure and an experience I am so grateful for.  In particular, I am so grateful that I chose the YogaWorks method, which makes the most sense for my particular body and spirit - it's thoughtful, alignment based, adventurous, playful and athletic.  The Ashtanga sequence was also a great opportunity to practice vairagya (literally colorlessness, more regularly translated as "non-attachment") and just let the practice be what it was without judgement. Of course, that didn't quite happen, but it was a nice thing to try, anyway.

Have a great day, and keep practicing!


P.S. To see what it's like to take a class with Jenny (a YogaWorks, non-Ashtangi class, that is!) check this out - it's FABULOUS!

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