My weekend getaway with Ashtanga

This weekend I embarked on my first mini yoga workshop. I say mini because I took 2 out of 4 classes. I am still very new in the Ashtanga practice, so I didn’t want to overwhelm my body and mind by going full force into this workshop and it was a great decision on my part.  I am half way through 6 days of fitness and feeling okay, so I would like to stay there and not completely wear my body down. Now for the gems:

Asana breakdown:

Krista Shirley was the guest instructor for our weekend of Ashtanga.  She’s a super cool chick and very intense, like her practice, but very soft and kind, just like her practice.  She was great and made sure that we were there for knowledge and I never felt intimidated or stupid.

I learned about Dristis (gaze), Bundas (breath) and something else that I can’t remember.  I learned to breathe in and squeeze my pelvic floor and on breathing out, suck that belly button to my spine.  So imagine focusing on that while doing asanas and making sure your alignment is correct.  Child, that shit is hard.

Another cool thing that was touched on was the beauty of opposition.  Pushing down with weight in the arch of the foot while also pushing down and away with the outer foot (in mountain pose).  Instant stability.  In Warrior or any lunge for that matter, pushing down and foward with the front foot, pushing down and back with the back foot.

I. KNOW. WHAT. IT. FEELS. LIKE. TO. BE. GROUNDED.

My goodness, if that is the one take away from this whole weekend, it was the most clutch.  I would feel unbalanced coming out of postures where I am in a lunge and reaching for the ground and coming up, or forward folds.

Not anymore!  Foundation solid as a ROCK and it makes my upper body feel lighter and more in line.  The fact that I’m engaging my quads and glutes more, definitely make me feel like I’m working harder, definitely make my hamstrings feel tighter than they already are, but I know I’m doing it the right way, so my ego will need to take a backseat on the flexibility progress while I’m introducing this small tweak to my body.

I did it last night in Monday Ashtanga and I felt great. Speaking of Monday Ashtanga, after going through a 2 hour flow the day before, made Monday Ashtanga feel like the best thing in the whole world. I still sweat to death and my t-shirt was soaking wet when I left, but I was engaged in my practice the entire time in a whole new way.

Primary Series Flow:

I did my first full two hour primary!  I was so freaking proud of myself for showing up, and just getting it done.  I focused on my feet (that I learned the day before) and focused on my breathing.  The asanas will come and stuff will open the more that I practice.  I told her what I was focusing on (because as a beginner, all of the cues and alignment tweaks and gazes and hand placement can be super overwhelming) and she said that I was totally right to start there.

Yay!  I finally answered the age old question for beginners!  When 600 different things are thrown at you, just pick two that resonate with you the most and focus there.  The rest will come with time and practice.

While I’m super eager to be able to do the cool, super hard poses, I am okay where I am.  I have a new focus for my practice and while it seems easy, it is difficult to stay dialed in to that at all times, so that will be a HUGE part of my practice.  When I feel proficient in that, I can move on to another challenge to tackle.

There were a couple of postures that I have never seen before, that MY Ashtanga teacher was killing.  The rest of the class just sat there and watched her…lol.

“Girl, I’m not about to do whatever Sanskrit thing you just requested, because what even is that?”  I’ll watch and register for when I’m at that point in my practice.

I appreciate the structure of Ashtanga.  It is a no bullshit style of yoga.  This is the pose, here’s a slight modification if you need it, but you basically need to struggle and fall and try again and get there. Prop?  No prop, just keep trying until you get there.  This practice pulls no punches and I like it…a lot.

This has definitely lit a fire under me to step up my Ashtanga game this summer.  This practice is so difficult and for some reason, it feeds something in me.  I feel like I have been needing a challenge and something to work towards.  I have always been that way and after completing school, bachelors, masters, landing my current job, I have been pretty content.  However boredom was creeping in, I needed a challenge.

Ashtanga heard and answered my call.

PS-  I will still be in my amazing gentle class, taking restorative classes, trying a Yin class, whatever.  I still want slow fluid flows, blocks, delicious bolsters, relaxing music and gentle stretches.  While Ashtanga is slowly becoming my main, I still want my chill side piece. 🙂  I love yoga dating…lol.

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