September 10, 2011

5 Reasons to Not Practice Ashanga Yoga ~ Peg Mulqueen


Ya know, as I was leaving my yoga practice this morning, feeling extra sore, I thought to myself … sometimes this sucks.

Sure, you’ll hear me telling you all the ways that I love ashtanga and how it’s  changed my life …blah blah blah. But what you don’t know is, some of those changes are really sucky (yes, that’s a word!).
Like these things, for example. 
My top 5 sucky things about ashtanga yoga:
             1. It’s expensive.  do you realize how much money I had to spend on a new wardrobe after the first six months of practicing?  My shoulders broadened while my waist and hips slimmed down.  All of a sudden I found myself looking to buy jeans and shirts that showed my shoulders. When my husband opened up the visa bill, I rightfully blamed it on ashtanga.
            2. There’s no cheating.  In a led yoga class, I know exactly what to do when the teacher calls  Vasisthasana (hoping like hell you’re not reading this, Mike Graglia …). I fix my ponytail, straighten my mat, get a drink of water, wipe the sweat from my forehead, etc. Next thing you know, it’s over. And that’s the idea. Now, in ashtanga, I can still do all that – but the freaking posture is still there waiting for me, and will be until i do it.  And that just sucks.
            3. No one coddles.  I’ve been practicing ashtanga for almost five years now and never, ever, not even once has a teacher said to me, “if you get tired, take child’s pose.”  I complain and say it’s hard.  I tell them I’m tired.  And I  wait…but all that comes back with the same rote advice. Something about, “practice and it all comes.” 
           4. Where’s the entertainment?  No music.  No readings. No inspirational talks or uplifting message from the teacher. Apparently these folks think all you need is the practice itself and anything else just gets in the way. As if supta kurmasana could be entertaining enough.
           5. You have to stay sober.  Not like I’d ever come to my mat after throwing back a few, but when you practice like ashtangis do beginning around 5 am, the last thing you want is to have a second coming of anything from the night before. So not only do you turn down that glass of wine, but late night Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip ice-cream (which I was always much more likely to indulge in) has become a thing of the past. *sigh*
So the next time you see an ashtangi, be sympathetic and kind.  You see, they’ve had a rough morning already, with a hard sober practice, often done in basements without windows. And don’t forget to tell them how good they look in their new clothes!

Peg Mulqueen is a writer, teacher, counselor, mother, sister, daughter, lover, friend, and eternal optimist…but above all – abundantly happy!


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