My whole life has been about getting it — getting the grade, getting the job, getting the pose, getting the tumbling trick. I’ve been “doing” yoga for years, but more as a fitness outlet. I didn’t like slow styles; I thought they were a waste of time if they weren’t burning major calories. The mind-body connection, mindfulness and spirituality side were not something that inherently came to me, at least not at first. A Yoga Nidra class finally changed my outlook and after that day, I was dedicated to trying as many styles of yoga as I could until I found my absolute favorites. While I love a good Hatha flow as much as the next gal, it was Ashtanga that really changed my personal practice and outlook on life.
About a year ago, I went through a really heartbreaking career letdown. I threw my heart, soul and happiness into something that I wanted so badly, and had it basically self-destruct in front of me. I let this desire consume me so fully that nothing else was important. I had constant stress and anxiety about getting it, (it being this promotion) and let this worry and self-doubt consume my thoughts, affect my relationship and even my performance at work — ironically while trying to perform for the job I was so badly trying to obtain. Meanwhile I had been (and frankly still am) considering a yoga teacher training, mainly to deepen my personal practice, but perhaps to teach one day as a side hustle. I toyed with the idea for the past year, but I think the universe wanted to nudge me away from doing this, at least for the time being, because that’s when Ashtanga came into my life.
I always heard chatter around my studio about Ashtanga being really difficult or even scary, but I really didn’t know the first thing about it. Always up for a challenge, the first chance I got, I attended a class at my studio. It was my lucky day when I arrived because the instructor had just returned that week from studying Ashtanga in Mysore, India.
The instructor went through the history of Ashtanga and described how it’s meant to be taught. (It’s not your typical studio-style class!) Then we began the practice and something just clicked in my brain. I had never really been great about connecting my movement to my breath, but with that first primary series, I suddenly felt like my body knew what to do and everything just flowed. It was as if I had been doing this practice for years — though my flexibility and stamina would have said otherwise.
I continued to attend Ashtanga classes whenever my schedule would allow, but I wanted more. My instructor had often spoken about the way Ashtanga was supposed to be taught — Mysore — and I was ready to take the leap. I joined his early-morning home Mysore program, and was excited, but worried about waking up at 4 a.m. to come to my mat by 5 a.m. and make it to work by 8 a.m., seeing as I am not really a morning person.
Nonetheless, I pushed through my fears and doubts. My first day I came in knowing next to nothing, outside of what I had learned in my handful of led classes. Now after only a little more than a month, I am already feeling stronger, more confident and comfortable in my Ashtanga practice. Every day the series gets a little easier, smoother and feels more natural for my body.
As much as I love doing the full led practice and am always eager to add new poses during Mysore, this yoga style has opened my eyes to the fact that my body may not be ready for all of primary series to be thrown at me at once and that’s okay — I’m absolutely loving the process and enjoying where I’m at. This realization has also been applicable to my career, goals, and all other areas of my life as well.
Respecting this process has provided me mental clarity, and a sense of presence that I never imagined possible. Looking back to my career downfalls last year, I know I was living in the future, and worrying myself to the point where I was becoming physically and mentally ill. While these were not the first struggles I’ve faced, nor will they be the last, I can look back on them now with a new perspective and understanding to see that these trials were necessary stepping stones along my path. Now I’m trusting in divine timing, focusing on my personal healing, working toward my goals, and enjoying the process along the way.