I have taught Ashtanga for years now and have trained in it extensively. I know the practice beyond the postures just because of the practice itself. That is what I’m teaching.
I know some “Ashtanga” teachers who do not practice it and therefore do not know the practice as a practice. They do not know the intricacies of it.
These teachers bow to the pressures of students’ to add postures which do not belong in the series, make it harder or easier by changing the posture rather than the intensity of the original posture itself, and let go of the rhythm of the class to appease those who just want to give up or make it easier so the ego can feel better. This is to the detriment of the practice, Ashtanga.
I have had great difficulty teaching Ashtanga after these teachers because students are not being educated in it.
It is the nature of the ego to make things easier – to stay in the status quo, to not push boundaries or get out of our comfort zone. But what is practice if it is not doing that – it is just exercise. It isn’t yoga if it isn’t challenging you to observe your need for: comfort, perfection, placating.
Yoga doesn’t placate – the teacher decides to do that and then it is just exercise. And don’t be fooled, just because you’re in a class that kicks your ass because it’s fast and you do every difficult posture in the yoga spectrum, doesn’t mean that it is challenging your ego – in fact that feeds your ego as well. The minute you say – oh look at that shiny thing – that’s when the ego is engaged.
I challenge you to get really bored in your practice – to strive for something else besides a good ego fix. Yoga is about personal, spiritual growth. It is to stretch you in a different way. The way that is most beneficial. Flexibility in every aspect does not necessarily manifest only in the body. Just because someone can bend over backwards, doesn’t mean that they have cracked the code of yoga. If it comes easily to you, I challenge you to find a place where you have to work for it.
Most of the time when I search for yoga sites for someone to follow because there is a resonance with their approach to the yoga practice: that, it is true and unencumbered, I can’t find any. Pages upon pages are full of people doing ‘stunt’ yoga like that’s where it’s at or all about.
I’m getting really tired of it. You’re just a bunch of showoffs. Really. Big deal, you can bend over backward and kiss your own ass. Big deal that you can put your leg behind your head. Big deal that you can do a handstand! Any circus freak can do what you are constantly bombarding us with on your websites and your blogs. And I don’t think they’re (the circus freaks) doing “yoga”. They’re creating a spectacle that is the circus.
Yes, I can do most of it. There are still things I struggle with daily. But that’s what teaches me.
Yes – it looks pretty. BIG DEAL. Do you even know what yoga is? I don’t think you get it. Yeah yeah, you’re so impressive, that you can do that. Whoop! But that’s what it’s really all about for you isn’t it? You crave for attention. For people out in the world to look at you and say, oh, I want to follow you. You’re gorgeous or remarkable (because they are saying to themselves, I can’t do that – so you must be great.) And stop blogging the perfect beautiful photo of yoga. Take a picture of yourself doing a pose. Yeah! That’s part of the teaching. Would you dare to show yourself in a not so perfect pretty pose? Would you? The real learning of yoga is to get over that…as a individual, as a business, and as a culture.
Show me you’re not perfect. If you want to keep showing those pristine shots on your website, then that’s fine just don’t call it YOGA! It’s not yoga. For crying out loud. Enough already! It’s fooling around with what looks like yoga postures. And please don’t write me about how a yogini wouldn’t get mad. I am channeling ‘Kali”. You know Kali – the hindu goddess of creation and destruction! Sometimes things must be destroyed to create something new. And it’s about time!
Please send me your not-so-perfect-yoga-asana-pic, I’d love to see it!
I have been reading and hearing a lot about the good and bad of practicing yoga asana…the physical aspect of yoga, Hatha yoga, let’s make this clear. I been hearing a lot about what it’s good for, health-wise. what it’s bad for, health-wise… What it can do for you in the way of making you feel better…about yourself?…about the human race?…about your body? Yoga postures can do a lot of things for you – more than you’ll ever know probably, and the pursuit of this knowledge is alive and well in all of us – students and teachers alike. I see it in the faces of my students, and other students in other classes. Eager to learn. But…some of them, somehow are less eager to work for this knowledge. Some think they already know and I sense a kind of deadness in these people. One girl in a class at a gym…she’s doing trikonasana (triangle)…one hand in the air…limp…falling almost. The attitude of her body, arched and a bit contorted. Her head heavy. Her eyebrow cocked and mouth slightly open. I can’t tell if she’s breathing. Maybe this one’s jaded…has been doing yoga asana for-e-ver, but somehow, now, is just going through the motions. No one stops to adjust her…Encourage her to go deeper. It is not considered good yoga etiquette to be directive…any more. Used to be that yoga was about deepening your experience and accepting instruction. Maybe she doesn’t like adjustments for just that reason. It’s insulting, she thinks. She’s been practicing in the corner of the room. Without realizing, she has isolated herself and has become passive aggressive and withdrawn in her own practice. So this is it. This is what yoga can teach you. Today when I start my own class, I begin by saying, “…if you do any yoga posture – any at all, it will do something for you. You will get that stretch you’re looking for. You will achieve that posture (in your body) with practice. You will get something out of doing it. But…that is only the beginning of your yoga practice. Now it’s time to change things around…to give something back. Change your notion of always getting and taking something from yoga: what it’s good for, what it’s bad for… Turn your mind from expectations. Rather, Bring something to Yoga. Your yoga practice. Ask yourself what can you give to your practice on your mat right now? During the ninety minutes we’re here. What do you bring?”
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