So I’ve completed my first week of an intensive dive into Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. I could possibly write a 14,000 word essay on this topic, but I have done my best to sum up my thoughts and words into bullet points for efficiency and time-saving purposes.
I take 2 classes per day: one from 6 – 8 am and another from 4:30 – 6:30 pm. Our morning teacher’s name is M.V Chidanand. Our evening teacher’s name is B. Shantaram.
Ashtanga is split into 6 series with each series becoming progressively difficult. Here in Mysore, we have been studying the primary series. Behold, the full primary series:
So each morning and evening, we attempt these poses. The teachers here gauge how much you can do and stop you after a certain pose. Each day that passes, the teachers add a pose or 2 for us to try. The whole practice is typically un-led i.e, the teacher guides you through the Sun Salutations and after that, you’re on your own. You go through the poses yourself, count your breath, and the teacher walks around and adjusts. So it’s quite a different thing than what most of us in the US are used to.
Week 1: Reflections
- HOLY SHIZZZZZ – Ashtanga is NOT for the faint heart-ed.
- Starting Day 1, I was immediately humbled. I knew Ashtanga was not easy, but wow – I have SO Much to learn about yoga and asana.
- The morning teacher’s adjustments push me to the max, but he has a very knowledgeable touch. He is adjusting my back, but also my knee, my hamstring and shoulder all at the same time. He is so intelligent.
- I have never twisted this hard in my life. I feel like my ribs are going to snap. I am forced to breathe so hard. But, I feel totally fine after!
- My hamstrings feel like jello.
- My face has been smushed against my knees multiple times in the seated forward folds (Paschimottanasana, Janu Sirsasana, etc)
- Initially, my shoulders were on fire from all the high to low push-ups (Chaturanga Dandasana), but now my shoulders have gained strength. I can definitely feel a difference.
- I seriously don’t like binding (like reaching around your body to grab your toes, etc). It’s really difficult for me. But, the teachers are there to help. MY ARMS ARE TOO SHORT damn it.
- The evening teacher’s energy is goofy! He lets us laugh if we fall. The morning teacher is more strict.
- The evening teacher (Shantaram) has been practicing for 30 years. He has a mustache and a huge smile. He demonstrates poses for us and he is UNBELIEVABLE.
- The morning teacher (Chidanand) has a beautiful voice! I love hearing his chants before class starts.
- Some days are frustrating because I’m mad at myself for not being able to do something. But, the goal is to just keep trying and practice – I tell myself that often.
- I love backbends. I love love love them. They make me feel so free and open.
- Warrior poses have never hurt so much before. Every time I think I’m low enough, or my knee is at 90 deg, the teachers push me to go deeper. My whole body shakes when this happens, but I have stuck it out. Goes to show: you ARE capable of more than you think.
- The teachers are so observant. No amount of slacking in any pose goes un-noticed.
- Headstand is a struggle now. Active legs are key in this pose, but my whole body is so tired by the end that I have no control and I just flop around trying to get up into headstand. Must work on this in week 2.
- How do I adjust my students like these teachers do to me???
- I am blown away by the humility of the teachers here. There isn’t music, or a fancy yoga room with nice lighting – just their energy, adjustments and guidance. It’s all we need.
- Overall – I am SO DAMN happy to be here. I leave class every day as if I’m on cloud 9.
I’ll write more soon, but just wanted to get this out for now 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading!