Ashtanga Yoga has taught me about love—how to truly love myself, those around me and to love life in general. I can’t imagine my life without it.
Ashtanga Yoga has the reputation of being a physical, difficult and sometimes elitist practice. I always secretly envied those who practiced Ashtanga yoga—the “Ashtangis” who I would admire from afar—those who just completed their Ashtanga practice.
Their red faces and sweat drenched clothes proved how hard they worked, but they all seemed so happy and energized. I wanted to have a practice like that, to work that hard, to be that happy. I was like a freshman in high school wanting to be as cool and popular as the seniors.
I finally built up the courage to try an Ashtanga Yoga beginner class. It was fucking hard. I remember feeling weak, out of shape and having to stop and rest during some points. The teacher never made me feel inadequate or like I didn’t belong. In fact, I was completely inspired by her passion for the practice, which was evident as she described it as a “healing” practice and her supportive and confident teaching approach.
I left the class feeling completely spent, face flushed, clothes drenched but energized at the same time. I was hooked.
Attending class two to three days a week, I was feeling somewhat confident as an “Ashtangi.” I then had to build up a whole new level of courage when I took the step to join my local studio’s Morning Mysore Club, a group of dedicated students who practiced between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.
I was excited at the thought of practicing yoga in the early mornings since it is so energizing, but I was nervous and apprehensive about my first class. It required me to wake up at 4 a.m. (rather than go to bed at 4 a.m). It required me to walk into a room of unknown students and an unknown teacher who had a reputation of being “hard.” But the hardest part was taking that first step.
The Mysore room soon felt like home. I was transforming on the deepest levels possible. Practicing Mysore-style Ashtanga Yoga 6 days a week (as traditionally prescribed) requires the cultivation of dedication, determination, devotion, discipline and patience—all qualities my life was generally missing.
Developing these qualities through a consistent practice guided me to a place of love. I leave practice every day loving myself and who I am becoming.
Author: Brandi Braun
Editor; Renee Jahnke
Image: Author’s Own
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