Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hello Ashtanga... Do you still like me?

A few years ago Ashtanga and I broke up. Not for good, but perhaps more like a: "I need some space". Deleted him(her?) from my facebook, didn't answer phone calls or emails... you know. Some breathing room. (Me watching the ocean in front of the studio)

I've read several places how yogi/nis go through this evolution in their practice, exploring new styles, absorbing and embracing asanas and instructors which ultimately creates a practice perfectly unique.

When I first started my yoga practice, I gravitated towards Ashtanga. Weird since I couldn't even touch my toes and had the arms of rubbery string beans, but my mind was TOTALLY Ashtanga. No stopping, always worrying, thinking go go go. I couldn't stop and slower practices which force the body to stop just created a space for anxiety and stress to fester. I wasn't ready. If I beat my body into exhaustion then MAYBE I could lay still for savasana (it took two years to feel comfortable closing my eyes).

In any case, once I left Montreal and began my personal practice in BC I
began to notice that the quick in-out of postures and rigidity of sequence in Ashtanga just wasn't making me or my body happy. I wanted to slow down
and practice each posture safely- which I wasn't able to do yet with the quick movements in Ashtanga. So I stopped attending or considering all
Ashtanga yoga. For three years. (The side of the studio's rustic balcony)

Tonight was my first facebook message "Hey, it's been a while... so.. how're ya?" with Ashtanga Primary Series. I was nervous, ready to be defensive and storm off in my righteous, "Ashtanga sucks!" attitude... and was completely, pleasantly surprised. I could actually move through the sequence without gasping for air. I felt strong and happy. The repetitiveness of the Sun Salutations was a nice break for my mind to quiet and focus on my movements. I almost PEED MY PANTS when the strong yogini next to me went from plow to upward dog- that's possible??? I wanted to clap, but thought that would be rude...I was so excited to be chanting and the Ohms, so long neglected in such a large setting, felt beautiful. The vibrations surrounded my body and lifted my spirit. "Hello Ashtanga!!"

Despite this temporary meeting, I still believe that Ashtanga and I are not well-suited... and just aren't that good for each other.... But at least we're now friends.

I suppose the fact that it was at the Sail Loft Yoga studio helped my
feelings of giddyness. After months of being in the cement city, smelling the salty ocean air, hearing the surf and the gulls just felt overwhelming. Right, THIS is what home feels like. All that drama of trying to find the silly studio (with no sign or civic address) was marvelously worth it. Cathy, the instructor was lovely, kind and supportive (and a kick-ass yogini twice age!!). Although a 40 minute drive just doesn't sit well with my "eco" self, I will definitely make a trip out again for a special workshop or occasion (Grace, what were you thinking about the next Ashtanga event in a few weekend?? :) ).
On our drive back J., Andrew and I ate yummy yummy cookies that she brought to share. Inviting J. to yoga is such a great idea... she always brings treats!! (The view from inside the studio and bottom picture is right in front of the studio up on the cliff).

Does anyone else have break-up and reconnect yoga stories?


This awesome article and the pictures are authored and copyright of EcoYogini.blogspot.com


  1. Whoah...that's a sweet studio space...or at least a sweet location...and they say location is everything...even if I'm not quite sure who "they" are....

    I first hooked up with yoga back in 2001...before then, she'd always seemed like one of those really out there granola chicks...a little too healthy, and way, way out there. Then, though, we met and seemed to get along...she helped me through some major depression and the 9/11 attacks...but, y'know, she was like the kinda girl your mom wants you to go out with...definitely nice, and good for me...but I can't say I enjoyed her company much. So, in time, we drifted apart, occasionally meeting up...and sometimes it was good, but never for long.

    Then, a little over two years ago, we decided to give each other another chance, spending a lot more time getting to know and understand one another, even traveling to the Berkshires and the Caribbean coast of Mexico together...and, as it turns out, I've found out she's really cool, continue discovering new things about her all the time...and can't stand being apart from her for long...

  2. funny, funny post! festering anxiety: it's what I feel when my belly makes me claustrophobic in child's pose. thanks for the laughs!

  3. How on earth does one go from plow to upward - oh wait, I just got it. Rolled over his head, I take it? Like a backwards sommersault? Wow.

    I am still trying to reconnect with yoga in general right now. I only do it 2-3 times a week, and I get SO TIRED that I have to do savasana every 10 minutes or so. Hmmm...

  4. I want to make it up to the Sail Loft Yoga Studio. I met Cathy last summer at the yoga retreat in Nova Nada, she's an awesome human being (and a great cook).

  5. Astanga and I broke up quite seriously in about 2004 when I dislocated my shoulder (again) after too many chaturangas.

    I practice and trained to teach in the Viniyoga style but always my mind comes back to the simplicity of Astanga. It's not so much the poses are simple (of course they aren't) but the same postures, time after time, in the same order, appeals to my ordered mind. I think that is why it is the yoga that beginners are drawn to -- they can remember it!

    I can't do Astanga anymore, but I do have my own version of the sequence :)

  6. Hey, about your question for me, are you talking about the one on July 25th with Jody Manley? For some reason I feel like I have plans that day. But maybe, I'll ask the hubby what's going on. Altough I;m really not familiar with Astanga.

  7. Great post! Beautiful studio!

  8. Me? I'm the kid with asthma pressing my nose against the glass watching all the cool, bendy yoga-people doin' their thang....

    ...well, I don't actually have asthma but you get the idea....

    It's on my 'no more waiting' list...my sis suggested we take a class together...not sure 'bout that..kinda wanted to go solo...

  9. Dr. Jay: what a history! it's funny how something can just become a part of your life and in a short time when you think back to it not being there life seems so weird...

    Innerspace: I'm glad I'm not the only one with clausterphobic stuff during supposedly restful poses! :)

    Greenspell: I KNOW- it looked absolutely crazy to me as well- but cool. haha. Slowly building is great, but yoga is also more about the mind and meditating then the postures :)

    Vickie: She's having a few special guests this summer- (as Grace mentioned Jodi Manley is coming up soon) as well as Guriji- although I think he's also going to Yarmouth as Kerry is the one who brought him over?

    Rachel: Viniyoga- I've never tried that! I still has so many styles I've been wanting to try :) Yesterday I was feeling my shoulder and it hurt! I think I may have done too many chaturanga's as well. While talking to Cathy I told her I couldn't be tempted back to Ashtanga- too easy to hurt myself...

    Grace: Yup! that's the one. I JUST found out last night though that the parental units are coming up the last weekend of July... and wedding dress shopping is necessary. So i'm not sure anymore :S I will keep you posted :)

    Babs: Thanks :)

    Mel: awww! I think it's important to find the right class and feeling comfortable about taking rests (like child's pose) whenever your body needs it!

  10. Okay, you might want to let me know by leaving a comment in blog otherwise I might forget to check back here!

  11. Dear Lisa, Grace, Vickie, and all of you who posted comments,
    This is my first time writing on a blog page, very exciting! Thank you for the amazing photos, Lisa, and very kind words from all of you about the studio, and about me!
    Ashtanga and I have always been the best of friends, though we've come to an agreement about no pain, and not trying too hard. I often, on my own, slow the Ashtanga down, you know, breathe deeper and longer, and sometimes I hang out in a posture for as long as I want.
    I also teach two hatha flow classes, all levels, Monday nights and Thursday mornings (Ashtanga is Tuesday night).
    For information about Yogiji's visit here, you can check out www.freewheeling.ca/yoga/summernewsletter, and get all the details.
    Yours in yoga!
    XO Cathy Guest


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