I’ll admit it: I’m not one to enjoy a lot of structure. Sure, I’ve had jobs that require me to follow systems, project manage things, get things done in a certain order etc…But for the most part – I’m a creative being. An art major, musician at heart – not really wanting to know what comes next, one who enjoys flying by the seat of my pants – that’s me.
That’s also how I like my yoga! I like the creative process, the sequences that are familiar enough, but not so much that I know exactly what is coming next. So, my studies have always been leading me down this path – towards teachers and styles that allow the teacher to be creative in a very logical, mindful way. Just like art!
I remember my first introduction to Ashtanga many years ago; it was exhilarating! I loved the physical challenge, the creative asanas I had never seen before and the fact I couldn’t do half of it – that was the best part of all. But could I? Would I do it every single day, six days a week? No way! Not a chance. I dated Ashtanga: two times a week to be exact.
Fast forward to February 2012. My appreciation for Ashtanga has grown, quite a bit since then. But even still, until February, I only played with it. Two times per week, not even the entire sequence – I mean, how boring to do the same thing over and over again?
But in February, that all changed. In an Ashtanga intensive, out went my back. Not because of the practice, but because I (little did I know at the time) have osteoarthritis in my spine and hips, my right foot is flat to the floor and my right leg is shorter than the left. So, with this great big back injury, I did not practice for one month. Moving was hard enough.
Finally in mid March – I sheepishly rolled out my mat at home and began to do some sun salutations… I could get through three. Two day’s later, I was able to get through five and a few Surya B’s. Several days later, I moved on to add in the standing sequence… Wait, what was happening? Pade, Pade, (step by step) Slowly, Slowly is what the Ashtangi’s say. And slowly, slowly my limitations began to decrease, my pain began to go away and my body once again began to flow.
“Only go as far as you can, then stop” – that’s what the Ashtangi’s say. And for the first time ever, I really followed this rule. Before I knew it, I was twisting again, Jumping through and back and now, here I sit in the beginning of May with a healed spine, a body that is back to where it was pre-injury (probably stronger) and all due to this system of Ashtanga Yoga.
I talk about it all the time in class – but for the first time ever, I REALLY have come to understand and love this step by step, slowly, slowly process of what is called Yoga Chikitsa – Yoga Therapy – which is what the Primary Series of Ashtanga is all about. Its masterful sequence flows you, bends you and moves you in ways that are healing to your entire body by detoxifying and realigning you from head to toe.
Will I ever get back to my creative flow? You better believe it, but it’s going to be some time before I’m ready – For now, I’m committed to Ashtanga, holding its hand, wrapping my arms around it and not letting it go… Oh Ashtanga, how I love thee!
Namaste – Marcia