Lovin’ a Practice that Doesn’t Love Me. ~ Kimberly Lo
My name is Kimberly and I love Ashtanga yoga.
It’s been my primary practice for nearly a dozen years. Over the years, I have tried to quit or at least take a break from it, but I always come back. I know I am not alone.
A lot of people on elephant journal and other sites have written about their love of Asthanga. However, I am a little different for you see, Ashtanga does not love me; I do not have the “right” body for it.
I am actually not very good at it either.
It was helpful, though somewhat embarrassing. Then came the question: “How long had I been doing this?”
“Almost 12 years,” was the reply.
“Oh,” the look of shock on her face was evident.
“Yeah,” I said. “I am not progressing.”
Ever the kind and gentle teacher, she informed me that my practice was fine. However, I thought about that experience throughout the day.
It was true; I had not actually made any progress in years. Unlike many other practitioners, ones who had been practicing far less than I had, I never got a single Second Series pose. My body had known what my mind had been denying for a long time: I probably will never master the Primary Series, let alone advance onto the Second.
The revelation was hard to swallow and I experienced the classic stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining and depression.
I haven’t yet gotten to acceptance, but I think it will come in time.
All joking aside, I do love Ashtanga. I am sometimes frustrated by it and upset at myself. (And I sometimes think that if only I had the diligence and practiced six days a week, I would be making progress. However, life—having a preschooler, my job, etc.—get in the way of sticking to this schedule.)
The founder of Ashtanga, Pattabhi Jois, famously said that Ashtanga “is for all people: old people, young people, fat people, skinny people—only not lazy people.” He was right. It is.
Ironically, coming to terms with my limitations has made me more accepting of my body and my practice—it has also made me come to love my practice more than I thought possible.
Years ago, an ex-boyfriend shared that his father, a doctor, loved golf even though he was not good at it. Per him, golf and sex were two things you didn’t have not be good at to enjoy.
In my case, I would add Ashtanga to that as well.
Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor based in Charlottesville, VA. When not she is not on the mat, she can be found at her other job which is teaching children how to do needlework. In her spare time she enjoys photography.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise