When we embrace what lies within, our potential knows no limit. The future is filled with promise. The present, rife with expectation. But when we deny our instinct, and struggle against our deepest urges… uncertainty begins. Where does this path lead? When will the changes end? Is this transformation a gift… or a curse? And for those that fear what lies ahead… The most important question of all… Can we really change what we are?
For 3 nine-day sessions, I am diving into Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training beginning this Fall.
Since 2010, I have spoiled myself in a smorgasbord of yoga styles. Even my initial teacher training is a combination of Ashtanga and Iyengar. It is a very worthwhile development both for myself and the students. As for personal practice, I attend whatever is out there. No regrets. I adapted with what they offer.
Except I got confused.
Do I open my arms in Urdvha Hastasana?
Is my back foot parallel to the end of the mat or angled with toes inward in Virabhadrasana II and Trikonasana?
Do I spread my fingers in Salutations?
Palms together? Apart?
Feet together? Feet hip width apart? In Tadasana? Samasthiti?
Lock my knees? Micro bend my knees?
Jump to Chaturangga? Or jump to plank then Chaturangga?
See what I mean?
Too much thinking going on.
I rather feel how this style works for my body, how it subdues my mind. There are arguments churning in my head when I am uncertain of what to do with my body. And when arguments corrode, I fail to come deeper into my asana – physically and mentally. I fail to reach that sinewy stretch with my muscles. I fail to be at peace with where I am at. I fail at stillness.
The confusion prolonged into years until I began to focus on Ashtanga at the beginning of this year. And for the first time in my practice, my heart settled. While my breaths began to deepen, I began to be more aware of where ‘this’ is taking my body. As I envision the flow of my breath from the belly, to the lower back ribs, to the front, to the upper back ribs, to the front… 5 counts… and exhale back towards my belly, down into my pelvis… 5 counts… Ashtanga helped me how to breathe – the strangest thing, I tell you!
That same strange thing is what makes it beautiful. I don’t see; I can perceive. I don’t look the part; I feel the part. Ashtanga has evolved into me. And the beauty of it all, I evolved even more. I found stillness.
As with any paths we choose to take, the true path is not laid with rose petals nor the air scented with lavender. Pot holes, road bumps, mud… but I keep my head up and can feel the sweet rays of the sun warming my skin, caressing my heart. The challenges are there to make this journey truly worth the sweat and tears – those moments of gnawing doubts, nagging fear, unwarranted judgements, harsh expectations… … …
Come back to what warms my heart.
Trusting my instinct, the deep urge.
One lineage. Ashtanga.
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Source Image: Milano Ashtanga Yoga by Leagas Delaney Milan | coloribus.com