November 25, 2012

Ashtanga: It’s About the Postures. ~ Peg Mulqueen

Photo: John Miller Photography

There, I said it.

I know I’m going to get creamed by the masses of self-righteous, enlightened ashtangis for bringing this up, but can we please talk about something important like postures for a moment?

You know, the ones teachers give (or don’t), students accept (or take) and why everyone pretends not to want, or care, all the while, secretly counting them like notches on a belt.

First, I’ll recognize that every teacher wants to share something deeper than just a bunch of gymnastics—as much as every student hopes their yoga will provide more than just a sweaty bind in their lives. Still, there are plenty of gymnastics and sweaty binds to spare.

So, let’s talk.

The postures of Ashtanga are known to bring out our best and sometimes, our worst. For example, I’ve known plenty of students to liberate, (okay, steal) the next posture in a series, even from under the watchful eye of its keeper—while others are held, (hostage) in the most inane places (say, navasana).

News Flash: Ashtanga ain’t an exact science.

Mostly because it involves people like you and me who are not only unique in our ability and needs, but who carry with us our own unique sh*t.

Are there power struggles? Sure.

Distractions? You bet.

Insecurity, ego and impatience? Check, check, and check.

Am I talking about teachers or students? Yes.

But, I have to believe that while Ashtanga isn’t absolute or exact, it’s also not random. And in a linear, progressive system such as ours Pattabhi Jois must have seen this whole posture thing coming.

So while I know it’s hard, and I feel like an asshole too when I struggle and obsess over postures, it’s time to admit that it’s how we grow—by grappling with our own issues of power, distractions, insecurity, ego and impatience.

Am I talking about teachers or students? Yes.

And that’s when the thought occurred to me:

Asana is the third limb and we talk about gateway postures, yet maybe, just maybe, postures are the gateway. Challenges meant to test our alignment and inner strength in order to lay a solid foundation before we move on.

In other words, maybe I’m not an asshole and neither are any of us.



Editor: Thaddeus Haas

Like elephant ashtanga on Facebook


Read 23 Comments and Reply

Read 23 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Peg Mulqueen  |  Contribution: 3,300