Been so lax with the blog this week and sooo tired tonight, so all I'm prepared to write is a summary of my last 4 days' practices. 4 Days! I feel bad! Well, now I cannot feel bad about not practicing 5 days a week I need something else to feel guilty about right?! So there it is.. I feel guilty about the blog! Aaargh!! *angst*.
What I've been thinking about a lot lately is when did Ashtanga begin to feel like a competition? Who am I competing with? Is it time I'm competing with? Is it my fellow ashtangis? Is it the people I see in DVDs and on youtube? Who the hell am I trying to impress here?! I think I'm having a losing 'the power of now' episode at the moment. Maybe it is because I've been attending quite a bit of hot yoga which has a completely different vibe to ashtanga.
In the hot yoga class I attend the teachers are there to guide you through the practice. Their little talk throughs are soooo sweet, soooo heartfelt and soo believable that I cannot help but love them for it. D and I joke about them because they love to 'thank us for our energy' at the end of class and reel off other predictable yoga type sayings, but it's cool, whether or not they actually mean it, I believe it, I feel their love and it's cool. :o) So what I'm saying is that the hot yoga is different, not just because it's in a stupidly hot room, but because it's conducted differently. There's no emphasis in this class on how you look, how good your jump back is, whether you can jump through to sit with your legs straight or whether you can hold handstand before 'flying' through the air to break your toes in chaturanga.. (joke)
I guess what I'm saying is that this yoga class does not feel like a competition. There are so many standards of practitioners that it is nice to go whether or not you feel you have the energy for the class in hand. You can lie down if you feel like you're about to faint; I would never dream of just lying down in savasana mid-flow in any of my ashtanga classes, because I had a sudden rush of blood to the head or such like... That sun-power yoga class I go to from time to time is similar, a broad range of practitioners but all able to attempt the asanas given to them. Maybe it's the fact that Ashtanga has a 'series'? or 5 or 6? And that its practitioners want to be seen to finish the first series and move on to the next and if you don't then well... you're a failure... I mean, at the moment I'd love to feel as if I had the capacity to be 'given' some intermediate postures, but the 'rules' say you're not allowed until you can do the entire primary series with drop backs, jump through, LBH etc etc. I'm ranting. Apologies. 'They' say it's set out like that for a reason, but hey, as much as I love the series, the practice, that's bollocks. Some's back may never be open enough to drop back. But who are 'they' to say that they are not 'allowed' to attempt ustansana for example?!
You don't get so much of a competative air if you don't know the sequence ahead of you. I feel equal to everyone else in the room as I look up and try to work out which posture is being described. It gives me more of a sense of being at one with everyone else in the room, rather than just concentrating on myself, my own being, which in ashtanga and especially Mysore style ashtanga focuses on.
Hot yoga is more of a battle too which unites us all, its like everyone in the room is after the same goal.....to come out without fainting :o)