Via elephant journal
on Apr 30, 2012
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I originally started with Ashtanga yoga.

I diligently practiced out of David Swenson’s book until I knew the basics, and then went on a 200 hour TTC that was solely Ashtanga. When I got there, I had no idea that you did five of Sun A, and five of Sun B, or that you did vinyasas between sets and sides. Despite being thoroughly convinced I was ripping muscles away from my bones for the entire month, I was completely hooked and spent a year practicing the primary series six days a week, sometimes twice a day.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I dabbled in other types of yoga as time went on, going to an assortment of Kundalini, Power, Bikram, Anusara, Yin, Flow, you name it. It was then that I realized what had really drawn me to Ashtanga.

Now, I know there are some hardcore Ashtangis out there who believe it to be the only true way to practice, and I do not buy into that. For me, it was the fact that you practice alone, that it encourages you to establish a dedicated self-practice. And why is this good for me personally? Not because of anything cool or super-fantastically yogic, no, but because I am uber-competitive—or at least I used to beI am learning to take it out of my practice and keep it on the running track. You see, I used to be a competitive marathon runner and triathlete. In the past, being competitive was vital to being successful. People may disagree, but in my opinion, if you are playing a sport where there are winners and losers or positions such as first, second, third, etc., then competitiveness is necessary.

Yoga…not so much.

When I started, there was no one to tell me how much I suckednot that anyone would, but if you have ever been a beginner in a class full of advanced yogis, then your mind seems to do that for you. When I started classes, I could not seem to stop flicking my eyes around as we were led into more advanced postureswho was better than me? Who was worse? Was she able to do splits/forearm stand/firefly, and so on and so forth.

Anyway, a woman at the studio I had been practicing at has a beautiful practice, and as I watched her, I felt that familiar glimmer of competitiveness. I stopped going to classes and got my behind on to my mat each day and did the primary series. I reminded myself of how I got started, and why I fell in love with yoga. I had wanted a break from the aggression of intensive running training, but even more, because I had wanted to stop comparing myself to others, their times, their gait, their ranking, their medals.

Yoga gave me freedom from competition.

And so, I shall remain in my little self-practice bubble until that little devil on my shoulder learns to keep his mouth shut about anyone in the Yoga class (including me)—unless he is reminding me of my ujjayi breath!

Rose Wyatt is an avid runner, mountain biker, skier, swimmer…basically anything sporting, so yoga was not something that she was initially drawn to. However, Ashtanga resonated with her, and since she started a little over a year ago, she has made it her mission to learn how to integrate yoga into all her other sporting endeavours. She is a 500 hour RYT and teaching is something that she is passionate about, hoping that her dynamic classes will resonate with athletes and help bring more of them into the world of yoga. Along with yoga and sports, travel, writing, cooking, reading and music are all things that she loves to do. Being 24, and having only discovered yoga about 18 months ago, she knows that she still has a lot to learn, but fortunately that just makes her happy!


Prepared by Soumyajeet Chattaraj/Edited by Tanya L. Markul

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8 Responses to “Self-practice.”

  1. thirtydaysofyoga says:

    Nice post. :O)

  2. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Two types of studios from the vantage point of me, a primarily home practitioner:

    It is so disingenuous-sounding when I would go to an All Levels yoga class in the New York City area (I am only intellectually "competitive", and after 5 years of regular practice certainly not "accomplished" beyond average), and a newly-minted teacher or a current teacher trainee on the mat right next to me, would go into {insert name of challenging arm-strength-intensive inversion/arm balance here} before class as a "warm up" facing the wall, and then huffily proclaim to me when I remark to someone else, that "I can't do that", that yoga is not a competitive practice. I would then tell her, "fall sideways on me, and I'll sue …" Upon which case, she would, dumbfounded, meekly say, "I won't" …

    The same scenario at another studio, would at least get me, something like, "whereever it is in your journey, that's where you are …"

    Now, I know I can do nothing about attitudes fostered in the first scenario, except not give them my business anymore. At all. Because I know firsthand (and after giving them many chances) that the lip-service kind of posturing/bullshit comes top-down from the teacher to the teacher.

  3. Thaddeus1 says:

    Some nice reflections…personally, I wish I was a better self-practitioner and it seems that circumstances in my life are affording me the opportunity to develop this aspect…for the next several months I will be embarking on this journey.

    Posting to Elephant Ashtanga. Be sure to Like Elephant Ashtanga on Facebook.

  4. Jody says:

    Congrats on the difficult work of maintaining a home practice.

    Personally, though, the experience of studentship is crucial to my yoga path, attested to by generations of practitioners. So though I have a home practice, and have had one for years, I can't imagine withdrawing from the experience of practicing with a teacher–someone other than myself. I'm not so concerned about what's happening with other students in the yoga classes I attend, but developing a relationship with a teacher over many years has been of inestimable value to me. Yoga is a practice of dissolving the ego, and there's nothing like being in studentship to cut through my personal crap. I know "the self is the guru" is all the rage, but I feel as though the lineage actually has a chance to hold and reshape me when I trust my teachers and offer myself to them to be transformed. Yes, I still have to do the practice, but without their eyes on me, I have less of a chance to wake up.

  5. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  6. Bonnie says:

    It's a balance of both I think. If you can't get to class and have the will to practice at home then awesome. It's not about how good you are on the mat….we've all heard this. I too have been really competitive and injured myself in the process. So two things I want to add to this interesting conversation: Without the guidance of my teacher Jude Hynes and the other amazing teachers in Auckland, NZ, my practice would be way less and my injuries way more and secondly, go to any acrobatic circus and you will see them doing asanas only seen in the 3-4-5th series…it's not about that….but if you can also practice at home then you are doing brilliantly as this takes real self discipline…oh and the shit you have to go thought in the class…well….what better way is there to face you own demons 🙂