I heard this phrase so many times: “Ashtanga yoga is not for everyone. You need to be strong and flexible and bla bla bla” I remember when someone who did a 200hours Yoga Alliance TTC once said: “I did this TTC but soon realized I need to start teaching something else, because you cannot teach ashtanga yoga to everyone. It’s not for every body.”
My deeper journey of yoga also started with an idea, a commercial TTC, a yoga trip to India, a dream, a wish to improve and discover myself, a wish to share something authentic from my heart. If it wasn’t for the encouragement of Manisha with whom I practiced Primary Series every morning for one month in Rishikesh or the inspiration from Yogi Mahesh to approach this practice with curiosity and keep on learning, I do not think I would have been here today. Or Charlotte who first told me about how ashtanga is being practiced in Mysore and Mysore style 🙂 These people sparked my curiosity and contributed to my first baby steps into this practice. At that time I knew nothing. But having my curiosity sparked, the rest was just putting in the work and staying open. Piece of cake 😛
However the deeper understanding of this methodology came only later when I started practicing Mysore style (self practice) under the guidance of a teacher who walks the path himself. Yoga cannot be taught in a TTC setting. That’s for sure! A TTC however could have an extraordinary potential to dig more into this method and the starting point for a more meaningful yoga practice integrated into every day life. At least this is what it was for me. A teacher training does not teach you how to be a teacher, but if you find the right teachers and have the willingness to keep researching it could take you to places you’ve never imagined before.
However now I’m done with Yoga Alliance stuff. I’ve been done with that since 2 years ago. What the regular ashtanga yoga practice on my mat and studying with real ashtanga yoga teachers has taught me cannot be compared or described into words. In just one year and a half of daily ashtanga under a guidance of a qualified teacher, I feel I’ve learned much more than all modern style, asana only oriented stuff I’ve done before.
In the silence of the Mysore room, whether you wanted, intended to or did not even think about that, when you first step into the class, sooner or later you are going to meet yourself. You don’t understand what that means? No worries, come to class and let’s find out 🙂
I am upset when I hear people being afraid of ashtanga yoga. There is so much judgement and shaming in this yoga industry. Sometimes I get nauseous from reading and hearing unnecessary stuff. Most often when people say these things, it is based on their very limited beliefs, wrong perception, practice under the wrong guides or non-experience. Just because you are bendy and strong does not make you a great teacher. Just because you’ve been an athlete does not mean you can teach yoga. Just because you had a very hard life, emotional and mental ups and downs, does not mean you are better than others, understand everything about life or can be a coach. Just because you like yoga, does not mean you are a yogi or a teacher. If people say ashtanga yoga is hard, it is because it really is hard. But if they say “it’s not for everyone”, it’s because they actually know nothing about it. It is my humble opinion. You are of course entitled to have your own and I respect that.
Ashtanga yoga is a long time process. It is a tool for you to discover yourself. It is not a posture, not a series, not a vinyasa – it is a tool, a method of researching into human consciousness 🙂 No good ashtanga teacher will teach you the full primary from your first class. Primary series is usually taught and practiced under a few years in the traditional manner.
If you want to discover the practice, practice under a qualified teacher that walks the path, knows the struggles, understands the method and teaches from the heart not from the ego. Ashtanga yoga looks so physical, but it’s actually a mental training and a journey of self-discovery. It is also the most gentle yoga method you can possibly practice. If you are a beginner, you are not going to be asked to do headstand or crazy pretzel postures at your first class. In self-practice classes, you will be building your practice together with your teacher in your own learning pace. It will depend very much on your commitment, how much time you invest in it and how open and patient and trusting you are. What can be more high quality and meaningful yoga experience than being taught one on one, learning responsibility for your own practice and life next to other people that walk a similar path?
If people talk badly about ashtanga might also mean they don’t have the patience to discover it. They might want it all in a day. But folks…the world hasn’t been built in a day. Changing the internal alignment of your body, transforming unhealthy movement patterns into healthy ones and changing your mental patterns does not looks like something you could do in a day, or?
So why the rush? Why so many high expectations from yourself and others or yoga itself?! Why?Why? Why? Relax, breathe, smile – enjoy the process! That might be the most amazing thing you could possibly do to have a great life. Who knows?
Please please please remain open, find a good teacher that first of all is a student of this method himself/herself, a teacher that has a teacher who can keep her/his ego under control and do regular check-ups haha A good teacher is not necessarily the perfect handstander or the most famous “yoga teacher” in town or instagram. A good teacher walks the path of yoga, knows how to translate the lessons of the mat into improving every aspect of life, not just the postures. A good teacher is honest, hard working and has good understanding of his/her own mind patterns first of all. There it all starts, folks. If you don’t know yourself, I don’t think you can teach more than just “posing”. A good teacher is supportive, but also strict when it has to be. That’s how it is.
A good teacher does not tell you all the time how amazing you are or call you “duktig” and cuddle your ego. And this doesn’t make him/her a bad teacher either. Ok? being supporting is not about cuddling your ego, but it is about being there even when you think you are all alone 🙂 A good teacher will do the right and honest thing even if you won’t maybe understand and maybe never come back to his/her class. Because a good teacher wants to guide you so that you can discover how strong and beautiful you are. It is your decision to be there and take responsibility over your own life, not just putting everything on the world out there.
A good teacher remains truthful first of all to himself/herself and the authentic message he/she wants to share. Because honesty, folks…that’s good old fashion yoga 😛 not just inversions. Aaaaa and nude yoga on instagram is not yoga. There I said it! It might be pretty art, but not yoga.
Yes, doing the right thing, get your a** kicked sometimes, being silently taught how to believe in yourself, being pushed on the edge of your physical or mental edge sometimes, being left alone to fight your own demons, learning how to be strong and rise above your self imposed limitations and past mental imprints. That’s what a real yoga teacher does: reshaping another human being not cuddling their ego and caring only to take your money. And that is a lifetime practice and work. It’s not happening in a day!
So please find a real teacher and discover the full story of this practice. Before you say something is too hard, dangerous, unhealthy, extreme or whatever else your mind or other people tell you to think, please do your own research. Practice at least 3-6 months on a regular weekly basis, then write me or leave a reply to this article and tell me how you feel about it.
Ashtanga yoga is indeed NOT for everyone. It is for the willing 🙂 If you don’t have that, then yes, it’s not for you.
Keep practicing! The easiest thing you can do is to give up when things get tough 🙂
© Unfold Your Mat 2018