August 2011 versus August 2012: Ashtanga and Transformation

4 Sep

Smile, you’re on Candid Ashtanga Camera!

I had to backtrack and look at my old blog to review something that I did last year. Right around this time in 2011, I went to a Baptiste Power Yoga class that nearly killed me. I almost threw up like five times. I had to get up and go sit in the corner and take a break. No one else took a break. It was either take a break or throw up or pass out or all of the above. My normal MO would have been to leave the class and be pissed off and humiliated. Instead, I stayed and finished. And didn’t go to another class for almost a year! I stayed at home and practiced alone with DVD’s until I started the Ashtanga experiment at the end of March 2012.

Fast forward to August 26th, 2012—I went to my very first yoga workshop ever. It also happened to be my first official Ashtanga class with a teacher. I just have to jump into the fire! It was me and three other women (two of whom were Ashtanga teachers!) and it was two and a half hours long. My home practices just recently increased to 45 minutes.

The yoga studio holding the workshop is called Blue Sky. The owner is a former showgirl who is a Jivamukti instructor. The space is in the Arts Factory in downtown Las Vegas, and all of the walls are covered in art from local artists. There’s also a bar next door to the studio and they happened to have a bluegrass band playing for the duration of the entire workshop. Hearing banjos while I was sweating and cursing and crying was at the very least amusing. It made me feel instantly at home, like I was back in Austin, TX.

Me, after two and a half hours of Primary Series

Wall at Blue Sky Yoga

My first thought after I stopped ooooing and aaahing all of the Catholic-themed art and giggling about the banjos was: I am going down in flames. Tapas barbeque. There is no way that I am going to be able to do this. My second thought: of course, I am the fattest person in the room, goddammit. Luckily, there was not much time to think about my fatness once Jen Knox got rolling. I plunged into Primary Series and just tried to stay alive. I’ve never even truly looked at the entire Primary series, never mind tried to actually do it. It seems so daunting that I just focus on one asana at a time and don’t look at any of the ones beyond that unless I am forced to (like while watching Kino MacGregor youtube videos or something).  I used to watch just the beginning of the Richard Freeman Primary Series VHS back in the day and then I would panic and turn it off.

Well, I did every asana in the entire freaking Primary Series, albeit severely modified. There was no begging off and no backing out. There were straps and bricks and bolsters going on like crazy. Jen was amazingly kind and made me feel like I was where I belonged. By the end of it, I was wrung out/high/delusional/severely dehydrated from sweating like a beast. I’m not even sure how I got home. For the next three days, I felt like I got run over by the Ashtanga truck. However, now I am hooked. I want more. I can do this.  Even though on a daily basis I frequently feel like an Ashtanga failure, this workshop made me see how far I have come in a year.

Pattabhi Jois was right, Ashtanga is for everyone, even old, fat, busted up desk jockeys. On Labor Day I am going back to Blue Sky for their beginning Ashtanga class, since I looove to do things backwards. Different teacher, so wish me luck!

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2 Responses to “August 2011 versus August 2012: Ashtanga and Transformation”

  1. Roger September 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    I’ve been doing my practice for a couple of years now, not everyday but I try to get in a few good practices during the week. Everytime I go to a workshop I have puddles of sweat all over the mat and floor and feel like I’m going to die. I’m not sure if that feeling ever goes away but it does get easier to deal with time.
    I hope Paolo took care of you on Monday.

    • hellbentforpleather September 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      No Paolo on Monday! I was very sad. I showed up & waited, but apparently they had changed the schedule for September & he’s no longer teaching the Beginners class on Mondays.

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