Ive been practicing yoga in NYC for 13 years. My first class was at Crunch gym on Lafayette street just a few blocks away from my NYU dorm room. Over the years I have experimented with many different styles and studios but as I look back I always gravitated towards the classes that offered the simple but straightforward sequencing of what I came to learn was Ashtanga Yoga.
I had a moment yesterday as I was heading to Balthazar with a friend to enjoy some post-practice ginger citrus tea when I began reflecting on why I love this style so much. I often get asked this question by the students who practice Ashtanga with me at the studio. They are curious as to what makes this type of yoga different than others.
I suppose there is no right answer and the reasons vary with each practitioner. Simply stated, Ashtanga Yoga is a set series of poses in which to practice a breathing system which cleanses and purifies the body and mind. Like any long term monogomous love, its important to keep the spark alive, and for me my love affair stays fresh with each day that I come back to the mat. Inherently, the practice encourages me to hold my own space, take responsibility for my own choices and reactions, and learn about myself through myself at my own pace. The beauty of having a structure that remains the same is in the freedom to experience it differently everytime.
In the beginning, there may be attachment to the posture or the physical benefits and satisfaction of engaging in such an intense form of activity but the repetition naturally softens the the mind around what the body is doing. There is no choice as some days are weaker than others. Some days the practice reveals something painful and a part of me wants to avoid and escape the feeling. These days can be challenging and brings up emotions my regular day to day activities don’t allow me access to. I am the most grateful for these times…. If the structure were to change day to day, I would miss these opportunities to refine, realign and remain present for the subtle physical, mental and emotional shifts and transformations a disciplined consistent practice offers.
I love Ashtanga why?
For all these reasons…
and for giving me a voice in which to share yoga with you