I am pretty sure I am not the first person to be traveling through my morning Ashtanga Yoga practice and suddenly thinking to myself…
“How did they make this crazy sh*t up?”
Thanks to www.ashtangayoga.info for the photos!
Today I was coming into Pasasana, the first pose of 2nd series and a lightening bolt of marvel went through me.
I have spent a lot more time than ever before over the past 6 weeks teaching the intricacies of Marichyasana D to a student here in Costa Rica. We’ve been getting right into the nooks and crannies of this ‘head-scratch-educing’ pose.
This posture is what many Ashtanga teachers refer to as a ‘marker’ pose int he Primary Series… (i.e. if it ain’t flowing for you, you don’t go on in the series until it does!).
Physically Marichyasana D requires a very strong foundation, confident grip, deep deep twist through the entire torso area and more… too much for this short post!
Similarly, Pasasana calls for almost identical physical actions. As I came into it today I literally heared my own voice teaching Marichyasana D earlier that week!
As I applied those tools, my heels sank deep into the floor, my arms wrapped tight around my legs, my chest rose high and my breathing became freer and easier.
I stayed for 5 breaths, not focusing on my correct ‘dristhi’ (looking place), instead I was in awe of the method of Ashtanga. I almost thought I could hear Pattabhi Jois, or Krishnamacharya, or someone… calling out;
“You see, if it did not sink in before (in the primary series) we’ll make sure it does now, here, in this asana!”
I laughed and smiled to myself. Again the practice is working it’s magic at leaving no stone unturned.
This then led me on to a little mid yoga practice mind wandering day dream… oh, naughty!
I thought; The mirrors in this practice really do show themselves again and again.
This repetition not only occurs here but in so many other places…
Of course, I have heared myself tell students this before “… you see it is the same action as in x, y, z pose… Supta Kurmasana to Dwi Pada Sirsasasna, Tiryam Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana to Krounchasana”, but today it hit me the most….
I pondered to myself – was this repetitive ‘hard ball throwing’ intentional during the designing of this yoga system?
What’s more, when *they* designed it were they aware of how powerfully this would reflect in day to day life?
If you are a regular reader of my yoga blog posts you’ll know I see this physical practice as much more than just *physical*.
Each and every breath, pose and gaze point has a meaning or relevance to me, off the mat.
(I am probably known for being so overly metaphorical it is difficult to know what the basis for my point was in the first place!)
Yes. It amazes me. Ashtanga has so many hidden gems and is so very far beyond the gymnastics it can some times come across as (and often feels like)!
Today what hit me was this; So it goes on and off the yoga mat, what you resist, persists.
I wondered about all the many students out there who want to be given the next posture in their yoga practice but are struggling with the previous, or perhaps, all of those preceding it…
I agree, there are many benefits for moving forwards even when the previous part is beyond reach right now – to help understand laws of physics better, to unlock a deeply tightened muscle or joint and so on. This, I don’t argue with and I trust your teachers discernment.
Rather, it was the image in my mind of the avid Ashtanga Yogi who so desperately wants more for the sake of completion or some kind of ‘end point’.
That is what got me thinking and made me write this today.
Oh but of course, I can hold my hands up and say I have done this too!
I have moved forwards without fully allowing a posture* (*lesson) to sink in to the memory of my muscles* (*mind/spirit/soul).
As a result, the same lesson has come around again, and again…
As if it wasn’t clear enough the first time, it comes back with fierce demands! If you don’t listen this time someone is going to get hurt!
There are millions upon millions of postures you can do.
There are an equal many adventures you can go on in this life.
But sometimes, the adventure you are on right now has enough juicy information in it to keep you busy for a lifetime.
If you don’t get them all right away – it is okay!
If you do, if they really sink in and your metaphorical ‘heels’ are firmly on the ground, then go for it shoot ahead, you’ve got nothing to loose!
At the end of the day* (*practice) even if you did shoot too far, the lesson will come around again later anyway!
Primary series Ashtanga Yoga has enough to feed any wise warrior for a thousand years, but if you are hungry for more and are ready to hear the same things a bit differently, dive in to second and third and on and on.
Trust me, the dudes who designed it won’t mind at all!
I imagine they’ll be smiling back at us happily watching their magical plan unfold 😉
A HUGE THANK YOU to www.ashtangayoga.info for such an amazing resource and beautiful photographs sharing the Ashtanga method so graciously and generously with the world!