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I've never taken an Ashtanga class, but I've wanted to for a long time. I’ve been practicing yoga consistently for over two years now, and even completed my first 200-hour teacher training in December.
And yet I can’t push myself through the doors of an Ashtanga class.
Ashtanga yoga is described as including “several increasingly difficult series of postures” and “a particularly athletic and demanding style.” It’s great if you “are looking to challenge your stamina.”
Well, I’m interested in all of that. And I know most of the basic postures in the primary series. So what am I afraid of?
For one, I’m interested in Mysore style Ashtanga, which is a self-practice. A what?! Yes. There’s a teacher in the room with you, but you practice at your own pace. The teacher helps you with each posture as they come, and he or she is the one to tell you when you can move on. You can’t just start the secondary series on your own. The classes are usually VERY early in the morning, and are cancelled on full moon days because a full moon usually means an increase in energy, which can be too much for something as vigorous as Ashtanga.
So what am I afraid of? I am very goal-oriented when it comes to most things in life, especially yoga. I put my mind to it and make it happen. And sometimes, I slack off, even for an entire week. Ashtanga is perfect for someone with my personality because it will hold me accountable – just what I need right now. I want to get stronger. I want more confidence. I want the teacher to tell me that yes, I can finally move on to Bhujapidasana. (Huh? Exactly.)
Last week I picked up a set of Ashtanga flashcards and I’ve been studying them. I’m going to my regular Vinyasa class all week, and by Friday I'll be up at dawn and in the Ashtanga room. Maybe I’ll only be there for 30 minutes before the teacher tells me I’m done for the day. But I’m ok with that. It’s all about baby steps and small goals. And staying safe — knowing my body and what it’s capable of.
Being scared is, well, scary. But when you push yourself through those doors, it can actually sometimes be fun.