Morning! Can you believe it is Thursday already? Time is flying by but I won’t complain! Life is filled with lots of goodness lately and I don’t mind being busy with good things! One good thing in my life is definitely yoga. In a little over a month I start yoga teacher training. Crazy, right? I’d wanted to spend May, June and July really focusing on my strength and getting in to some more advanced poses but I’ll be honest that hasn’t really happened. I do take yoga 3 times a week on my lunch break but the classes aren’t “creative” and don’t have a ton of challenging poses. They tend to stick to your standard Warrior poses, Sun Salutations, and standing balance poses with some abs. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good workout and I enjoy every second of it and it’s definitely better than nothing. We just aren’t getting into lifts, headstands, handstands and advanced backbends and binds like I want to be.
I started looking into yoga studios by the new house and found a few recommended by the staff at the local Lululemon store. Michael actually has been taking classes regularly at one studio but they start at 5:30 or 5:45 and with my commute and work schedule I just can’t get there in time. Then I started reading about Ashtanga and realized this might solve all my problems!
Ashtanga is a 90 minute practice and follows the same flow every time. Each posture is taught with its own Vinyasa and connection with the breath is of utmost importance. Each movement is connected with either an inhale or an exhale.
Ashtanga is meant to be practiced everyday except on moon days.
We don’t practice on full moon or new moon days in the Ashtanga tradition because these are days to rest from asana practice and observe how mother nature has both obvious and subtle effects on all living things. Humans are about 70% water and therefore the gravitational forces exerted on us by the relation of the Earth, Sun and Moon create shifts in our energy. Full moon and new moon represent the peaks of such shifts with the full moon building a strong and not so grounded energy while the new moon fosters a very grounded but heavy energy within us.
The other beautiful part about Ashtanga is that it can be practiced anywhere once memorized. I’m hoping once I take more classes and become more familiar with the series I can begin to practice at home in the mornings before work.
On Tuesday I went to my first led Ashtanga class and was fortunate to have an amazing instructor who helped me to understand the poses and transitions. Let me tell you, Ashtanga is not easy. When they say that it is an athletic practice they are not kidding. With all of the jump backs and vinyasas your arms and body are warm and burning. I was sweating like crazy and on Wednesday my whole body was sore. Ashtanga was definitely a humbling experience. Here’s some thoughts:
- If you want to build strength and endurance this practice will definitely help you do that. I learned that my arms and shoulders are much weaker than I thought and getting through all the vinyasas was hard.
- The transitions can be complicated but certainly give you something to work towards.
- The asanas combine a level of strength and flexibility that I haven’t seen in other practices.
- When you get to savasana you’ll be thankful to be done and have a few minutes to relax your body and muscles.
- It is a measurable practice. Since the poses and sequence never change you are able to measure your strength and progression.
- Connecting your breath to your movement comes naturally in this practice.
I personally loved the practice. It was challenging for sure but I learned that I tend to be very comfortable in twists and binds. They seem to come naturally to me. What does not come naturally to me is anything that involves being upside down. Headstands, handstands, fish, etc. all challenge me to trust my body and strength and go out of my comfort zone. I plan to continue with this practice and will definitely try to attend this class every Tuesday night in hopes to build my strength and find comfort in the poses I struggle with. Michael and I are taking another Ashtanga class on Saturday morning but at a different studio and I hope the experience is just as good! I hope to memorize the practice this summer and be able to practice on my own. Time will tell but this is my newest challenge and I am really excited about it!