Its good to be back. I haven’t wrote a blog post since end of last year. As previous blogs have stated if you have followed my journey. I was very frustrated at my Ashtanga/ Mysore practice. Being a beginner at anything can be tough and especially when you don’t allow yourself to ‘enjoy’ being a beginner. I also didn’t want to accept that starting anything new you are not going to be good or even half decent immediately or even for quite sometime. After a particularly rough day with Marichyasana D I gave up. That was last November. I broke down in tears and said to myself I do not have what it takes right now to keep doing this practice. So I left, I knew I’d be back I just wasn’t sure when.
Fast forward to May this year and I had dabbled with other yoga classes but nothing fitted and my extreme nature needs an extreme practice. Its just who I am. I had thoughts about returning to Ashtanga. I just wasn’t sure if I could sustain what it takes. That means actually truly committing 100% to early mornings, 6 days a week no excuses.
A lady I knew through social media and friends was opening a summer Mysore pop up here in Toronto on The Danforth very close to me and I figured it would be great to support someone starting their own studio/shala and also go back even if I could only just look at the summer. Sometimes its easier than thinking forever.
I returned a month ago and Im happy to say that I have committed and made it in the mornings. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I could wake up at 5:30am but I am and I actually like it a lot. As for my practice, I am letting myself be a beginner and enjoying it and not comparing myself to others and just enjoying my practice where ever I am that day. I have had a neck injury that I’ve battled this month and I still went and practiced (obviously we modified it and some poses were a no go) but I still practiced.
I am grateful for a wonderful encouraging teacher, my fellow ashtangis who I practice along side every morning and just being able to move and do this practice of Ashtanga.
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That familiar feeling that had been gone for a long time returned this morning. It was that same feeling I had in the first three months of sobriety. I’ll describe it like this….It’s the feeling of being broken, like really broken and also that of anguish, pure frustration and heartache. I had just been assisted into Marichyasana D (my nemesis) I don’t think I’ve ever disliked anything in all my years as much as I despise MarichyD!! I’m sure there are many people out there that can relate. I’ve googled this asana, watched YouTube vids and basically investigated every nook and crevice of this, my arch enemy. As my teacher was assisting me into it yet again the waves of resistance and pure fear came forth. But today was different, my shoulder felt a pain getting into it and before I knew it the tears sprang into my eyes and I felt an imminent breakdown coming on. I feel as though I haven’t made a scrap of progress in this one asana since I began four months ago. To be honest I have felt over the last couple of months that my practice has been at a stand still. I have heard this is normal and happens to all ashtangis but I’m like “C’mon this has gone on WAY too long”. Anyways, the rest of my practice was filled with tears. I know this is also normal and happens but I was shocked by the intensity of it. Then I’m left with this….Do I quit or just work harder? Ashtanga is not for the faint of heart, only the strong survive it and keep coming back. I think I will too.
Hi I’m back……Its been awhile since my last entry. I had been having quite the battle with that monster FEAR. Its funny how it starts out quiet in the back of my mind a niggle here and a whisper there then within a few days transforms into yelling and screaming masses of doubt. Fear is the one thing that can stop us moving forward and getting want we want, fulfilling our hearts desires and dreams. I was crippled by it for a good solid month. It followed me like the grim reaper everywhere – work, my recovery meetings and particularly to the Ashatnga Shala to my Mysore practice. I was so wrought with it that I had anxiety on the way there every day. Once on the mat my paranoia took over, a side effect of my fear. I wanted to quit not because I didn’t love Ashtanga but because my fear was so gripping that I didn’t think I could move through it.
How did I get through this month? How did the fear leave me? I pushed through. I meditated and I asked the universe to please help me and remove it. I begged, I pleaded, I just kept going and I dug deep because as tough as Ashtanga is. And it is a tough, extreme practice I knew giving up was not an option and I feel it transforming my life and bringing a light to me like nothing Ive ever seen.
Anything that’s worthwhile requires a strong mind, discipline, sacrifice, focus and hardcore determination. Ashtanga is the toughest most physical thing Ive ever done but I love it and I’m on month four…Its getting easier, I think I’ll just keep going…
Yesterday I returned to Mysore practice after a two week break. I was on my travels in Arizona and also came home with an injured neck that I had to wait to get better. Who needs to be out longer by going back to soon and making it worse?
Upon entering the Mysore room that familiar feeling came over me of being back in this concubine of ritual and internal focus. For the next hour and a half or so, this is all I have to think about. Call me strange but I love the sweatiness, loud sound of Ujjayi breathing, the bodily smells and dim natural light. It really is like nothing else.
Once I got on my mat and started to move through the postures I realized that my strength and balance had taken a huge hit but my flexibility was still there. I wouldn’t say I was back to step 1 but I could say perhaps step 2 or 3.
Im OK with this, and of course it will return. I realize that Ashtanga and Mysore are a lifelong journey and practice. There is no destination.
One last thing, I really missed the endorphins that are to me are one of the best feelings I’ve ever known. Pure natural high.
This is not a blog post about Ashtanga but I thought it was worthy of being included here because it’s something that I did that was very meaningful to me. I have just come back from a spirit quest to Sedona Arizona last week.
It was a trip I had meticulously planned and had felt a calling to Sedona for a very long time. I think it was a combination of the desert, the Sedona vortex and it being a home to the metaphysical world. As a person who is always on a quest to grow spiritually I knew I had to go there.
I had already found a guide a few months ago in a very synchronistic way and we had been corresponding for those months and I felt a kinship with him and I loved the way he spoke about the land. So he was my choice to take me on a 3 tours one on one.
Getting there was another story…as you know I had everything perfectly planned. But the airport and airplanes and universe had a different plan for me. My travels were delayed two days and a trip that would normally take 6 hrs flight and drive time from Toronto took two days. I was beyond frustrated and asked why, when Ive never had travel problems before and Ive travelled a lot, did this have to happen on the trip that meant the most to me. Then I realized and some friends pointed out also that this was part of the “spirit quest” I had to earn this trip emotionally and spiritually.
Once settled in Enchantment Resort and waking up surrounded by beautiful red rock in the middle of Boynton Canyon I knew in my heart it was going to be the experience Id hoped for.
I had the most incredible time on those tours and overcame many fears. I climbed to the top of Cathedral Rock which is one of the scariest but most rewarding things Ive ever done. At the top we were circled by ravens the entire time. My tour guide played the flute and I realized that this is what living is all about. It was such a surreal experience and one I will take with me for the rest of my life.
Through yoga and particularly Ashtanga I have found a deeper meaning to my life and have pushed through things I have deemed impossible to achieve. It has made me more tenacious and I am able to sit through pain now and its the norm whether it be physical or emotional pain. Ashtanga has shown me that I will get through it and come out so much stronger and even ready for me….because pain is growth and thats so damn rewarding!
(Im dedicating this post to my friend Ed Piotrowski, he is such a supporter of me and my new journey into Mysore and is a fellow Ashtangi)
Have been looking forward to writing this blog entry all week. Its amazing what a transformation and how much your practice can grow in just a the span of 5-6 days.
Here are a few amusing highlights from this week that I’d love to share with you guys –
Sunday – Went into the Mysore room to practice at the Shala and after being distracted emotionally from something which was bothering me from Saturday evening. Promptly forgot every pose and order after Padottanasana. It didn’t matter how many times I was told and reminded I still could not keep them in my memory. Also every single pose hurt, and more than usual. Its incredible how emotional pain can translate to physical pain and difficulty on the mat. I almost cried 3 times out of pure frustration at the state of my practice ( like actually really was about to cry) and I almost burst out laughing twice at the craziness I was feeling and how my practice was a shambles this day. Got through the practice and hastily left the shala shaking my head.
Wednesday – Woke up an hour later than usual and thought that I would do a ‘home practice’ using my Ashtanga book and trying to copy the poses to my memory so when I go back to the next I will not forget anything and feel awkward. It went ok but lets be real here- there is no way I push myself as hard at home as I do at the shala under the watchful eyes of my teacher and his teaching assistants. On top of that, 45 minutes into practice and as I started the seated poses one of my cats thought it was a delightful party and would not leave me alone. Moral of the story….get my butt to the shala, no excuses.
Sunday (Today) – Had memorized poses, got to practice and I can honestly say had one of the best practices ever!! My vinyasas flowed smoothly. I can jump back into Chaturanga properly and felt more flexible than I have ever felt in my life. On top of that remembered almost everything and felt such a joy and connection to the poses I walked out of there beaming.
Ashtanga and Mysore you are seducing my heart, mind, body and soul and for that I thank you!
After the first two weeks practicing Mysore every other day or even taking a few days to recover from the soreness. I realized that it is a 6 days a week practice (having read up on it and also asking a friend how much she practiced). Sunday- Friday you practice with rest Saturdays and of course Moon days. I knew sore or not, I had to do it the way its meant to be done.
As with recovery half measures avail nothing. I feel that this is transferrable to Mysore. It takes a full daily commitment. The thought of this did not bother me because I know this feeling well. Over the last four years I have thrived under structure and self discipline. I love it!
Upon returning with a new mindset and fully embracing the practice as 6 days a week, I went sore and completed my practice with a few more poses added, this time standing ones. I know now to show up on the mat no matter what and see what Mysore has in store for me and that every day will be different and you know what? Thats ok. Its part of the charm of this beautiful life changing practice.
Love and light
I took this picture Monday after Mysore practice. My face red and sweaty paired with a feeling of exhilaration. Natural highs are the best.
I walked into the Ashtanga Yoga Centre Friday 6th June 14 to try a morning Mysore class with David Robson. I was told to leave my water bottle behind the counter at the front desk as water will not be needed in class. This was new for me because my water was always like a security for me during yoga practice. If anything got super difficult, I always went for a drink of water. The reason for not bringing it in is in Ashtanga we are meant to build ‘internal heat’. I forgot about the water immediately when I walked into the Mysore room.
Carrying only a towel and my mat I slid the door open and entered the room, what I laid my eyes on initially stunned me (in a good culture shock kind of way). I saw a crowded, almost foggy with sweat space, yoga mats tightly squeezed together and about thirty or so people in a plethora of yoga poses most of which I had not seen before. They were people of all ages and backgrounds labouring and sweating profusely completely focused on their own practice. David then came over and introduced himself and said hi, my first impression was that he was friendly and I seen a light in his eyes a clear kind of focused twinkle that Ive noticed yogis that have practiced many years possess. I felt instantly at ease, there were also a couple of other instructors helping out in the Mysore room.
I took my mat to a slither of space by a wall and was instructed to start with Surya Namaskara A and B (sun salutations). A quick glance around at the other yogis before I began and I saw people in the most phenomenal poses some falling out of postures but getting back in immediately and some being aided by the other teachers into binds and poses. So this is what Mysore is about…you are on your own, independent (which I love) but are given one on one guidance and help when needed or if your poses need correcting.
Through the sweat and smell of body odour I began A and B. I struggled, the reason being, even though I had practiced Ashtanga once a week every Sunday for about 18 months I wasn’t strong and a week later still aren’t. i repeated both sequences 5 times and then closed with Baddha Padmasana/ Yoga Mudra which is a full lotus. I left feeling exhilarated and shocked as to what I just witnessed and was a part of. I bought a membership that day.
The rest of my first week. I went 2 more times was just as intense and to be honest really rewarding as i felt I learnt so much in just those few classes and was given a few more poses. I am now up to Parsvottanasana (side stretch pose). With Mysore you are not able to move on to the next pose until you have done the one before successfully.
In between classes at home I was pretty sore so a magnesium supplement and epsom salt baths became the new normal. I also added in a l-glutamine supplement for sore muscles which helped incredibly. At night i have been reading through Kino MacGregor’s ‘The Power of Ashtanga Yoga’ which is a book I highly recommend. As well as practicing Ashtanga or any style of yoga for that matter I really have benefited from reading about the practice and explaining the yogic lifestyle. I don’t know about you but for me if I’m passionate about something I want to know everything about it.
Emotionally and spiritually Ive felt a big shift and felt happy and peaceful almost light. With less judgemental thoughts and a lot more focus.
I have always wanted to start a blog but wasn’t sure about subject. I decided that as I am at the very beginning of my Ashtanga and Mysore journey this would be a great subject to blog about. Oh, and also because I am very passionate about yoga and how it has already transformed my life.
I am an Australian lady that moved to Toronto 16 years ago (time really flies doesn’t it?) the last four years however I have transformed my life and reinvented myself. You see I am a recovering alcoholic, I got sober September 25 2010. It has been quite the journey and one which has propelled me into deeply examining my spirituality and everything I have ever known. As well as being part of and a active member of a 12 step program I have been on a search and quest to find who I am now as a person in sobriety. Facing my life no matter how hard it gets with a clear mind unobstructed by mind altering substances.
It has been an incredible journey. I have found who I am and have tried many different paths this past while. A big part of recovery is spirituality. I started to pray and then got back into meditation which I practiced many years ago. I found myself in meditation and also in running. When a yoga studio opened right in my building a couple of years ago I knew I had to join. I had tried two yoga classes about 15 years before but never picked up the practice. I was looking for both a physical and spiritual outlet so I joined. How could I not with it being an elevator ride away and winter on its way?
At this studio over the next eighteen months I tried every kind of class they had – Hatha, Yin, Power Vinyasa, Restorative and my favourite Ashtanga. The Ashtanga class was only once a week on a Sunday morning but I made sure I was there EVERY Sunday. When I wasn’t at Ashtanga it was on my mind a lot. So I knew it was my love, my heart, my soul. I was challenged by the difficulty and at the same time loved and sought comfort in the ritual and poses of the primary series.
When I moved uptown I was distraught over leaving my yoga studio where I had made friends with a few of the instructors and other yogis and felt like it was my second home or (shala). I tried a few classes in a couple of different studios but nothing felt right. Then one of my instructors from my old studio who knew of my love for Ashtanga and said I had to come to Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto and practice with David Robson and try Mysore. I was there the next day. So this is where my journey begins.
I sincerely hope you enjoy my coming posts about my journey on a physical, emotional and spiritual into Ashtanga and Mysore!