Yoga is an ever-evolving practice in my experience. The asana practice has consistently been a physical practice that I am always ready to engage in. I am always ready to go to yoga, whether it be after a long and tiring day or waking up early to make it to the Mysore room before the rest of the day ensues. This is a completely different feeling and mindset from me thinking of a different activity or exercise and having to psyche myself up to go for the activity. Of course, I thoroughly enjoy myself once there and it always feels great after a workout, but that initial motivation and reaction to perform the activity in the first place is so different when it comes to yoga. This was my very first indicator that I wanted to spend more time and energy deepening my practice. Of course, as anyone who has done yoga even as a purely physical practice soon comes to realize, the practice very quickly becomes more than physical, even if we don’t realize it. When it came to deepening my practice, I was equally intrigued about the workings of the physical body during the asana practice as I was of learning more about yoga and the many aspects of our lives that it touches.
Upon moving to Boston in the summer of 2015, I began a regular practice at Down Under. I tried all the different drop-in classes available and all different styles and found that the Vinyasa practice deeply resonated. One of the reasons for this was the idea of using breath to connect movements and transition. Also, it was a more physically demanding practice and definitely made me feel better the more I did it. I varied my schedule by going to a different class every day with a different teacher. This allowed me to learn different styles, variations, sequencing and even feelings that each teacher brought to their class. Moreover, as I took the next step by signing up for the 200-hour teacher training, going to different teachers’ classes allowed me to closely observe and examine their teaching styles and how the classes evolved and progressed. Through this process, I started picking out the aspects that appealed the most to me.
During the teacher training, we had an introduction to Ashtanga during one of our weekends. I loved the intensity and strong focus that were inherent in the practice and left me feeling physically worn yet energized and cleansed. I was very keen to try the Mysore practice and see the impact that it had on my practice and my life. However, I thought that I needed to build my asana practice as a whole before I could be ready to take on a regular Ashtanga practice. At that time, I also wasn’t sure how to alter my schedule to do the early morning Mysore practice. I had gotten into a regular routine with my Vinyasa classes but began to feel like I was hitting a wall and wasn’t learning or progressing the way I wanted to. Classes that seemed to present variety that I welcomed now seemed like they were random and didn’t quite connect or provide what I needed. As this was happening, I had a drastic change in my routine as I took a new job that completely changed my schedule. As a result, I was not able to take the same classes that I had been for more than a year and had to find other classes that worked with my new schedule. Of course, I found some amazing classes that matched my new availability but found that I was tired and spent by the time I got to these late evening classes. Moreover, I found that these classes altered my other routines of eating and sleeping so quickly found that I was reluctant to make it to the class as it always felt like I was choosing between having a regular routine and being able to do my regular asana practice.
After much thought, I took a month’s break from yoga and spent time with family and doing other activities. Through this month, I thought about where I saw myself heading on my yoga journey that had now become deeply intertwined with the rest of my life. The most obvious were the physical aches and pains that came with not practicing yoga for some time. I decided that it was time to start a regular Ashtanga practice. Though a little apprehensive at first, I took the step to go in and observe the room. The rhythm and ebb and flow of breath in the room made it inviting. The music and other distractions that I constantly used to distract myself were no longer factors and the focus in the room was palpable. Within the first week of being in the Mysore room, I found a rhythm, strength and focus in my practice that I had not felt before. At the end of each practice, I was spent yet felt limber and ready to take on the day. Most importantly, it has started to give me the tools to be able to practice on my own anywhere and at any time. With a fair amount of travel on the horizon for the next few months, I am confident of being able to really practice my yoga anywhere and to take it with me wherever I go.