Why I practice Ashtanga Yoga – A Response to ‘Why I gave up Ashtanga Yoga’

Last week I read a blog post entitled ‘Why I gave up Ashtanga Yoga‘. Have a read!

You can guess the gist from the title…but here is why it ruffled my feathers enough to respond in a blog.

The Author describes how she, after practicing Ashtanga Yoga ‘for a long time’ (I’m not quite sure what that means?). She found  ‘real’ happiness and has since jumped off her mat, given it up totally and feels much better for it thank you very much! This I respect, she gave something a good shot…it wasn’t for her and she’s moved on…all good!

She then goes on to state how she believes that those people who practice 6 days a week have something missing in their lives and will not find it on their Manduka mat (other yoga mats are available) and furthermore says that practicing so much can be injurious and dangerous and refers to this article as back up.

There are many sweeping statements in this blog. However it is not the content I have an issue with. I actually think some of her points are valid….these are my thoughts….

Its a Balance

Life should be a balance. Perhaps a 6 day a week practice is not appropriate for everyone? Personally I feel 5 days to be best for me. It keeps my energy levels in check. And since my full practice is around 2 hours on days where my energy is low or I have time constraints I will adapt it to fit into my day.

Why I do it

I have practiced Ashtanga Yoga for around 10 years. There have been many ups and downs. Times of strength and working through injury (always the most informative and challenging times). I have changed my approach to my practice many times…from full power to soft and everything in between.

The pressure and guilt that she reports feeling I’m sure is common…I have felt it myself, its not unique to yoga…us humans are impatient to get somewhere fast and personally thats one of the things that I love about the practice..the mental challange. But, if now I begin to find that I feel depleted from my practice rather than feeling that it supports me (which it does especially in the tough times).  Then I can adapt. Its the beauty of being responsible for ourselves as adults!

I do not see myself leaving my Ashtanga practice behind AND I would never say never! Who knows what the future will bring. All I know is that for now I feel thankful every time I step onto my mat for having the time, physical ability, and inclination to do this at all!

It comes down to respect

What really bothers me about this blog is the tone that she takes. The condemnation of those students and teachers who do choose to practice regularly, passionately, week in week out. Giving up their time and income to travel and study in Mysore annually. Mysore program teachers who rise super early every day to go and support their students. It does sound like the author did have a regular teacher and I for one would be very sad if one of my students had written a blog such as this.

Us Ashtanga practitioners may be crazy on some level and its certainly an unusual lifestyle choice…but it is our choice to make…so perhaps it would have been more gracious to let us get on with it.

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6 thoughts on “Why I practice Ashtanga Yoga – A Response to ‘Why I gave up Ashtanga Yoga’

  1. Well said Sophie. I can’t imagine life without Ashtanga, even after the last two years of surgery and having to start practice from zero twice over hasn’t put me off.
    As Eddie told us last month as the years go by we may have to omit postures and may no longer be able to do certain postures, but we can still get on our mats.
    Ashtanga isn’t for everyone and I think it was pretty unusual for someone to practice so long before deciding it wasn’t for them.

  2. Life is practice, ashtanga just helps keep you in check with how you are dealing with it. It is always so much easier to find comfort in pleasurable things, to blame or judge another way of life if it does not suit you or it is too hard. Expectation will always kill any practice. Thanks for writing something positive in response to that article that was not really thought out. There are so many better things in life to complain about.

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