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Ashtanga and Me

This is just a short introduction about my journey into Ashtanga. As a lot of my blog is likely to be about yoga, I wanted to give my readers a little background.

I spent years thinking yoga was rubbish and slow and that it definitely was not for me. I preferred running and high impact disciplines such as kick boxing, swimming, dance and even gymnastics. I liked stuff that pushed me and got me out of breath.

Then I found out there was a physically challenging branch of yoga (there are many kinds) and it was called, Ashtanga. Developed by the late Sri K Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India, ashtanga is a Sanskrit word that simply means, eight-limbs. This refers to Patanjali’s 8-limbed path to ‘Samadhi’ or enlightenment or union with God. I did not know all this in the beginning and what began as a ‘workout’ became a transformation of body, mind and spirit. I can’t really explain how that happened but I can say that I didn’t expect it and also that I certainly wasn’t consciously looking for it. Yoga, it seems, is not just a work out but a comprehensive, holistic philosophy and way of life.

At university, having recently just covered a branch of philosophy called ‘projectivism’ I can see that this could be a good analogy and example to illuminate my relationship with yoga. I began (and still do) by projecting ideas, desires, expectations and demands on my body and from my practice. Every time, the practice gives me something back, which in turn changes my perception and so with it, my projections. It is like a mirror or a reflection, letting me know where I am at. Giving me the truth, even when I do not want it, but never before I’m ready for it. The mat is a safe place to do this, to evolve perceptions of yourself and the world but it inevitably begins to shape your perceptions off the mat too. And this, it may be said, is where the real yoga begins.

“Before you've practiced, the theory is useless. After you've practiced, the theory is obvious.” - David Williams

Pattabhi Jois, affectionately known by his students as Guruji, is known for saying - '99% practice, 1% theory'. Alluding to the fact that no words I can write can properly impart what yoga truly gives you, unless you practice and come to understand for yourself.

It has unexpectedly become something that I seem to want to devote more of my life to and also a passion I wish to share - through this blog and maybe one day, as a teacher. A simple desire to share the gift that has been given to me.

Thank you for reading.

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