One of the big differences Ashtanga Yoga can make in your life is giving you some really helpful discipline. Let’s start with an example of the ordinary not-so-so-disciplined people. Like me. If you ask my friends they’ll probably tell you that I’m organized, working on a lot of projects at the same time and getting all of them done. But that is definitely only the superficial half of the story. I maybe get the things done that have to be done – but I’m leaving on the road some dream projects and crazy ideas. Because there is not enough time left for them.
I started with Ashtanga yoga two years from now. I was working at that time as a full time journalist for a newspaper – and there was just no chance taking any yoga class after work – which was my preferred time to practice yoga. After work, getting rid of everything I took with me from my job in a yoga class. But in that town I was living two years ago there simply were no yoga classes after 8 pm. And I couldn’t leave work earlier.
But… I had some time in the morning, as I had to be at work only by 10 am. The only studio that was offering classes before 10 am – I know you already got it – was an Ashtanga studio in that town. And yeah, really, it’s the first step of getting things done: practicing early in the morning.
Honestly: That was no fun in the beginning, as I like to say about myself I’m a night owl, I love getting my writings done in the evening/night. I have the feeling as “nightier” the time as more magical my texts are. I get some ideas I don’t get during the day. Ok, but now: I had to change my plan, stop insisting in things I like or am or want. I heard myself say, now we get over that what we think we are. Sounds cool, hmm?
I went to the Ashtanga place. I didn’t like it. Not the time nor the primary series. I hated the first Utanasana in Sun salutations. My legs were so stiff in the morning, my spine just wouldn’t be flexible enough to bend. And more than all that: I didn’t like me. I thought of myself as an advanced practitioner (whatever that should be…) just finding out I couldn’t bend over my knees before 8 am.
But fortunately there was no other way. Ashtanga yoga or no yoga – as I knew I wouldn’t be able to practice before work on my own. So I stayed. I liked my teacher which was a big pro. And it got better. First I struggled every morning lying still in my bed asking me again and again should I go or should I stay in bed for just one and a half hour more? Then I struggled once a week. There was this one day per week I just didn’t want to get up. Sometimes I just stayed in bed. And then, maybe after a year I reached the state I just got up without questioning. I just went. I just did the practice.
And in my practice I got more and more into the meditative state of doing the primary series. My progress – if you can name it like that – was continuously.
Guess what happened in my non-yoga-life? At my newspaper job I didn’t like some of the works I had to do. I had that moments before, I questioned myself, I questioned the job, I questioned the whole media system in Germany – and worldwide. But in that last month of my work contract just did my job. I just went. I knew what I couldn’t change and I just accepted it. I just got things done. Wohooo, there I was, coming home after work having everything done – and I even had some free time in the evening in which I could plan my dream projects and grow crazy ideas!
When I moved to Cologne one year ago I sticked to my Ashtanga practice. I just went to a studio, got on my mat doing the series. Last March I went to study with Sharath Jois in Mysore, India, for one month. It just goes on.
It always impresses me meeting ashtanga teachers who have emerged themselves in the practice for many, many years. Because you can see their clarity and there one pointedness in what they do. That inspires me and gives me the discipline to get more things done by myself.
Seriously, David Swenson would be enough reason for me to come to BYC this year. Having a full day of practice with him can give you a speed way into Ashtanga yoga. Swenson is practicing Ashtanga since 1973. I don’t know if he ever questioned Ashtanga. But who cares now if he ever did?
PS: I started this text at 6 am sitting in a train to Berlin. I can do it though I labled myself being a night owl. Surprise yourself – be what you think you’re not.