Joining an Ashtanga yoga class for the first time can be a bit intimidating. Especially so, if you choose to start with a Mysore session. Here’s what it was like for me, my first time at Ashtanga Yoga Phoenix, and why I'm hooked! Along with some tips on what to expect during your first visit.
Lately I've been distracted. I think I am really just stressed out. I have a lot to do for work and I keep falling behind. In fact, instead of grading the 63 essays that have been waiting for me for over a week, I'm writing this blog. I know I am doing it to myself, but I can't stop putting it off. I will be at parent/teacher conferences for many hours today, so my goal is to get started on the pile, and as soon as I am done writing this I think I officially run out of things I can do to avoid the grading.
One this I don't procrastinate over is my practice. I come every day, pretty much without fail. I am glad I am unwilling to put it off, but lately, I've been very distracted. I keep forgetting poses in 1st series which I have been doing for over 5 years. I will get to a point and realize that I skipped over some pose, and sometimes it is one I love. I first noticed this the day I forgot garbha pidasana. I love that pose, but I got to the very end, and did my jump back out of padmasana and realized it was the first time I had done that. I had simply forgotten the pose and since then, I feel like I have forgotten a pose each and every day. Sometimes I remember the poses, but I find myself sucked into someone else's adjustment or feedback. The other day I was saying the closing chant and the teacher said something quietly and I forgot where I was. It is getting pretty ridiculous.
I have this voice inside my head. Sometimes it tells me the truth, but sometimes it lies to me. Sometimes, this voice tells me that I am doing a good job, that I am learning new things, that I am doing life right, but other times, it tricks me. It whispers all my old doubts in my ear and makes me believe I can’t do things. I try to ignore it, but sometimes it wins, even though I wish it didn’t.
I hate mornings. I loathe them. I am not a morning person. When I get to work (after my practice) I’m often still cranky. However, I get up at roughly 4 am each weekday so that I can practice before I go to work, and I’ll start getting up earlier if I get more poses and my practice takes longer than it is currently. But I don’t like it. I set many alarms. I have a sunrise alarm clock that goes off at 4am, and a back up on my cell phone set for 4:05, and sometimes I still hit snooze. I get up and come every day, but that first 10 minutes is the worst. I hate it, but I do it, because I hate how I feel when I don’t practice more.
I'll admit it, I love poses that most people hate. I get some kind of weird pleasure from these poses. One of my absolute favorites is janu sirsasana C. I have always been able to do some approximation of the pose, but it has really developed over time.
When I first learned the pose a little over six years ago, my foot felt a sharp pain in the toes and my knee wouldn't go to the ground. I remember the first time Scott Page looked over at me and told me my knee should go to the ground; I couldn't wrap my head around how that was even possible. As time passed, I started to figure out some tricks to the pose and it is those tricks that have made it one of my favorites.
Numerous positive health benefits come from having a daily Yoga routine. Initial noticeable improvements from the practice involve physical, mental and psychological aspects in everyday living. Starting the day with a wholesome Yoga routine will also result in making healthier choices throughout the day, including; better eating habits, increased vitality and how to respond more positively in unpredictable circumstances. But, by far, one of the greatest gifts anyone will ever encounter from Yoga is the unavoidable dealing with pain.
Moderation. You hear about this a lot.... But what is moderation? To me, moderation means making (fairly) healthy meals that are packed with nutrients and still being able to eat pizza or cupcakes if I want to. Moderation means not depriving myself of the foods I love but balancing these more decadent meals with delicious homemade healthy meals.
In short, moderation means eating healthy.....ish.
I started living a healthy ish lifestyle a little over 5 years ago. I had just graduated from grad school and was transitioning to my true adult life. I was overweight from eating almost exclusively at restaurants and drinking lattes daily over 6 years of college. I considered myself to be a ‘foodie’ (and still do), but I knew I had to make a change. I already did some exercise (the occasional hot yoga, piyo, treadmill, stuff like that), but that wasn’t doing much for me. I had cooked in the past but never in a mindful way. I always cooked way too much and would therefore eat WAY too much. So here's what I did:
I have been practicing Mysore for quite some time now, after trying all kinds of yoga. I like Mysore because I can practice as early as 4:30 am. My practice means so much to me. I started doing yoga as merely exercise and little by little it has transformed into an emotional, physical, and spiritual practice.
My practice has really challenged me, especially when it comes to Marichyasana D. It has taken me what it feels like a lifetime to figure it out. Practice paid off and finally one day I got it, thanks to the encouragement of my instructors, tips from my yoga mates, my daily practice, and changes in my daily life (I have to confess that losing a pound here and there really helps). I am so proud of myself for showing up everyday on my mat.
At AYP we are a community of yoga practitioners who are dedicated to the ashtanga yoga method. Our hope with this blog is that we, as a community, can share who we are and what we are passionate about. Whether it be our favorite recipes, our trials and tribulations (or growth) with the practice, a favorite pose or two, or our thoughts on life, we will share it here. We can't wait to share our worlds with you and grow both in the yoga room and in our practice off our mat. We hope you enjoy the journey, and if you are a member of AYP and would like to contribute to our blog, please reach out to Cindy, Lissa or Jen, or drop us a message here on our website and we will contact you to set up your contribution to this community endeavor. We look forward to seeing you in the Mysore room and be on the look out for our first official blog!
We are a community of Ashtanga yoga practitioners who blog about the things we love.