Ashtanga

I’ve been very busy the past few days so I’ve been struggling to keep up with my August Blogging Challenge but I’m trying my best!

My yoga practice has been generic vinyasa since I started 4 and a half years ago. I use the cues and needs of my body to tailor a skillfully appropriate sequence each time I come to the mat, bearing in mind that the needs of my body and mind change depending on circumstances. Basically it means I do whats I feels like. This has led me to have a highly personal practice which I depend on and has always given me a lot of joy and opportunity for excitement and growth. But I’ve always felt inferior to Ashtanga people. Especially since I started reading yoga blogs. I fear that many of the blogs I read would view my practice as weak, non-committal, not serious, shallow… etc.

I had no desire to practice the Primary Series but I had many desires to work on poses that are included in the primary series: the half lotus, kurmasana, the extensive surya namaskars, dropping back into urdhva dhanurasana and of course the oft-repeated jump throughs and jump backs. I played with these in my general practice but I was not committed enough to make any kind of dent. Then my yoga studio advertised an Introductory Ashtanga course and I was kind of interested so I committed to practicing 3 times a week.

By the first week my right leg felt strange- stiff and achy around the knee and hamstring. I found myself unable to even practice half lotus which was part of the reason I wanted to practice the Primary Series in the first place. In the second week I hurt my wrist jumping through so was unable to practice those, or the surya namaskars. In the third week my inner thighs and hip flexors tightened up so much my outer hip rotators got a bit strained. I was unable to practice anything with much external rotation. Today during practice hip flexors got very tight and sore and I was unable to practice half lotus, janu sirsasana, navasana and I just generally felt like my comfy yoga pants were a tight pair of just-washed jeans, restricting my every movement.

At first I thought it was just bad luck, and some of it is but the thing is, when I felt a bit off before I would change the practice to heal. I am beginning to realise why my practice has been very injury free since I started yoga: I do things that are appropriate for my body. Over the years I have gravitated to deep lunges, pigeon poses, anything which stretches the inner thighs, and backbends. These poses were most beneficial for my body, I practice them for a reason. And I’m beginning to think that the Primary Series, with all its forward bending and hip flexor contracting, is just not suitable for my body. So as much as I was looking forward to investigating the Primary Series unadulterated, I think I might just have to modify it and practice it in parts.

I’m just such a rebel, I don’t like anyone telling me what to do. Especially in yoga.

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