Friday, 5 November 2010

Ashtanga Yoga


I began practicing yoga when i was studying for my GCSE exams in secondary school. I told myself it was a way to calm my nerves, but really it was something that i had been interested in for a long time. I was always fascinated by the odd picture or text you saw in the papers, celebrating this wonderful practice for all its merits and healthy looking lifestyle.

I wanted that.

I  know i was only like 16, but i wanted to find something to challenge me, physically and in the end now i understand also mentally.

So i went to my local library and found a book called something like, Introduction to Yoga, a basic, teach yourself book.
So that's how i started. I slowly read the book, studying the pictures and trying to twist and sit into all the positions. I liked my (grown-up) regime of getting up early, practicing and trying to feel the benefits of it. Of course at this young and naive age, i think what i was after was the toned and flexible body from these pictures.

So each month i'd keep renewing my library book, lock myself away in my mum and dad's sitting room and practice this 'yoga'.
After a while i was eager to speak to other people who practiced, wondered what they did, i was also very interested in the whole lifestyle choices of a yogi too, the hippy-esque foods and healthy glow.

So i went to my first class, and it was everything that anyone who doesn't do yoga, thinks yoga is all about...

... Lots of women (a few brave men), in a after school hall room, slowly arriving and laying out their mats, and basically looking like they were having their weekly catch up.

Not the dynamic, sweat dripping experience i was craving for.

But i stuck it out, and i enjoyed it. Sure it wasn't that challenging, it was more typically sitting cross legged, looking at a candle kind of thing. But i was introduced to breathing techniques and it was a glimpse into a lifestyle i secretly felt at home in.

When i moved away to university i found a local class near my halls of residence. And this was getting there.. it was more challenging, but it didnt have the discipline that i now realise is what i enjoy most from Ashtanga yoga.



It was when i had finished university and moved back home for the year that i finally had my first Ashtanga Yoga class.

I had signed up for classes at a local dance studio, in the hope that this could give me what i was looking for. I was introduced to a more physical practice definitely, but being only once a week in the evenings, i soon practiced at home myself again to try and reach this self practice i was looking for.

The year after i was offered a place to study and work towards my Ph.D. in Portugal.
And along with it i was eager to look for places to practice my new Ashtanga style.

Unbeknowingly, in an apartment in central Lisbon i discovered my self practice. The tradition and discipline of this wonderful yoga, the sweating, the physical challenges and the mental steadiness that is foundation to this practice.

It is everything... and so much more than i was hoping and longing for.

I wont write in detail here about Ashtanga yoga, not yet. But this was a post i wanted to write at the beginning of this blog as it is something so fundamental to my life now. I have the daily regime of waking up, practicing and my yogi food, and it is helping me develop into who i hoped to become.

I am asking for the blessing from our beloved Guruji, pictured above, to help me share here the wonderment of Ashtanga yoga. And to bless me in my writings and thoughts and emotions, to bring only the true and traditional aspects of Ashtanga here, to share.

His most famous saying,

'Practice, practice, and all is coming.'

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