Tuesday, January 29, 2008

99% Practice, 1% Theory

Tonight...7:15 pm...Primary Series!!!

For those of you who are not familiar with Primary Series, it is a sequence of poses from the Ashtanga Yoga practice. I am in love with Ashtanga.

I am in love with all styles of Yoga but Ashtanga really speaks to me....Perhaps it is because my natural Ayurvedic constitution is Pitta...But there's more to it than that.

It is a beautiful practice (not only to do but to watch)!! It is so fluid, so meaningful, so expressive...and it resonates with every piece of my soul. I have actually only been doing Ashtanga Yoga for maybe 6 months...My Yoga experience is actually not even a year yet.

I can't deny it's effect on me...Coming from a weight training back ground I feel that one of the drawing factors is that it is such a physically demanding practice. But it is mentally demanding!!

It makes you keep your cool and calm down in the face of difficult situations. I remember when I first tried Primary Series. I had recently joined a new studio (not really knowing anything about the Ashtanga practice other than that Bryan Kest DVD that I bought on Amazon). I walked into class @ De La Sol and set up my mat, when the man beside me (who has actually become a friend) said, "You know this is Primary Series right?" I replied, "Yes!!" (Not even knowing what the hell Primary even was). He continues with, "This is a level 3 class you know?" I saw that on the schedule but had no idea what to expect. I was in for the shock of my life. I've been hooked ever since.

A lot of people ask, "Isn't Ashtanga just about the poses?" God NO!!!!! Like any Yoga... there is the breath, the surrender of effort to spirit, the relaxation and the philosophy behind it.

It's just that rather than holding poses for extended periods of time you move through the Primary poses in a systematic and slightly faster way. At the beginning of class there is still an invocation (to pay tribute to all Yogis who have paved the way and to seer Patanjali) and there is still surrendering at the end.

However, Ashtanga does tend to draw in very athletic types that think of it as nothing but a work out... and that's cool too. They'll probably find out for themselves (as I did) that there is more to the style than just sweating and breathing. Ashtanga is meditation in movement.

Seane Corn said that Ashtanga is actually very ritualistic...From the way you breath to the way you position your hands (like a beautifully performed tea drinking ceremony). The whole practice becomes an offering to Spirit. Effort soon becomes effortless. That's what I'm beginning to realize.

I do however love going to other types of classes. Heather Greaves, who was my Teacher Trainer, comes from a Kundalini background and I've come to love that practice as well.

I love chanting!!!! For some reason chanting really resonates with me as well!!! Give me a few rounds of the Gayatri any day.

And every now and again when I feel that I need some relaxation, and a less physical practice, I'll do a more restorative practice. I was once told that a sadhaka (student) should pick one particular practice and stick with it. I don't necessarily agree with that. I feel that every type of Yoga from Pre-natal to Anusara to Kundalini to Iyengar all have something wonderful to offer.
And as a Yoga Teacher, having so many sources to draw from is amazing.

I will say this...Yoga has something for everyone!!

The wonderful thing is that the world is finally realizing it
(I'm glad that it didn't take me that long).


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