I love Ashtanga then the next moment, I hate Ashtanga…..
Same as in any kind of relationships, I have a love and hate relationship with Ashtanga Yoga.
I’ve always wanted waking up at dawn to practice to be easy but it’s been a struggle. More often than not, practice just doesn’t feel like a peaceful moving meditation. On such days every time I step on the mat, a storm courses through my mind. My heart pounds furiously against my chest, my knees hurt, and so does my hips, back, and legs. And I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” when I should be catching up on my sleep just like everyone else. But even so, I still practice, because I know that the painful sensations that I’m feeling through all of my being would eventually go away after five (5) breaths. Just like everything else, it will all come to pass. And before I know it, ninety minutes has gone by and I’m still alive at savasana and I’m so much lighter than before.
There was once when I completely stopped practicing the asanas for about six (6) months. But after a friend urged me to teach Ashtanga again for the first time in a long time, it made me realize that I veered away too long from the practice that I love the most. Sometimes I’d regret the lost time when I could have worked on it hard enough, and maybe I would have been more proficient in at least the primary series. Yet looking back on my other struggles in life, if I had not left it at that time, I would not have appreciated the practice as much as I do now.
Yes, I’ve been practicing for over three (3) years, on and off, but I haven’t mastered the Primary series yet. There are still about ten (10) poses that I could not get in and out to yet physically; poses that I could perform but could not find the calmness in my breath while in it; and poses that my bodily sensations could not understand at all.
We get stuck somewhere sometimes, don’t we all? And in my case, seeing past through my ego, I’m humbled by the fact that the more I experience myself through Ashtanga, the more I realize that there’s so much more about the practice than meets the eye.
I’m broken apart and I just had to let go. Let go of the results, let go of any tangible goals, let go of any expectations. Because just showing up on the mat every day, despite of all the struggles, you’ll find so much more and know that what you realize about yourself in the process is far greater than any pose that you’ve been dying to perform.
Practicing Ashtanga for me is like an uphill climb and the summit is nowhere in sight. And I’m not even sure that the years I have left in my life would be enough to tap into all the other five (5) series.
A friend once asked me, “Why are you so dedicated to Ashtanga when you could explore other styles of yoga that’s more exciting out there, or heck make a brand of yoga for yourself.” With that look in his face as if he’s talking to a cultish Ashtangi. I understand that there are people who worship Ashtanga as if it’s the only one and be all. Like how they cannot live without the practice, and has become their life. But I’m past that stage in my journey. I look at Ashtanga now as a tool that I use to experience myself in a whole new level, and it’s just what I need right now. And if for some sick twisted joke of the universe that I won’t be able to practice it anymore or that it may be lost forever, then my life would just go on and I’d be just fine. And this is because of what I learned in the practice as well. That everything changes.
The practice has ripped me open, and has made me whole, molding me more to be a better version of myself again and again.
Ashtanga is not everything that I am, but its role in my life could never be quantified. I can only be grateful. It has not only earned me a living but it has taught me how to live a more balanced life. Had I not taken this risk, I would not have had the chance to go to amazing places, all expenses paid, and I would not have met wonderful people who warm my heart into pieces all the time.
The photos above are credited to Julie Corrales Yoga, Augnes Ela Obedoza, and Ching Lau. These were taken during my weekend stay in Camiguin courtesy of THE YOGA HOME. For the rest of the photos, check out this LINK.