Breath – First day at the Ashtanga studio

So I’ve decided to go down the Ashtanga route. There are a couple of reasons for this. First it feels a little bit like “coming home”. There is some familiarity with the poses, the structure of sequences and the rigidness of the practice. Maybe it’s because I used to practice Bikram yoga that I can find myself in these patterns. Although different, in Bikram you work more with the heat and to calm the mind.


In Ashtanga, I think it’s more about the postures and from within. Also, I find it harder. More postures, more things to think of and you can do the same posture over and over but still improve it. Some poses will even take years to master, and some maybe never. But it’s ok. It’s not so much about what you can do or not, but more about the journey there.
My teacher recommended me to go to this Red Door Yoga in Shanghai which apparently is THE Ashtanga place. It’s the place where teachers go to practice. I started with a beginner led Ashtanga session. I’m happy I’ve built some strength over the past 3 months, otherwise it would have been very difficult.
I was happy to see some progress in poses I thought were impossible just 3 months ago. What I liked the most though was the feeling of breath. A small studio filled with 12 people just breathing. A cold winter day in Shanghai with 3 degrees C, a sense of calm, stillness before the class started.
Half way through the windows were completely steamed! My mat was wet and I sighed out after that last Vinyasa. I still remember last year when I could hardly do the warm up vinyasas. Now I’m fine doing 10 for the warm up. In a class there is 60 though, my arms will become so strong!
There is something animal with yoga. We are standing there, struggling, sweating, breathing, some make some noise. It’s like coming back to the basics, pure, no distraction, just this internal and external work with ourselves.
I went farther than ever in some of the poses with some help of the teacher. I realised that I can do much more than I thought. With some help, she helped me to relax in the right places and I could go down 10 cm more with my elbows towards the ground. My mind was really surprised and it what makes me understand it’s really a mind over matter thing. The body, of course, have some limitations but not as much as we think.
So I’ve decided that once I’m back from Thailand, I’ll sign up for a 3-month unlimited membership and really get into this Ashtanga practice. Ideally, I’ll practice 6 days a week as the tradition suggests. I’d love to go to the morning Mysore classes. I think I’ll have to learn the sequence first though. Maybe the first week I can start with the evening ones and the beginners Mysore.
I felt so good that week when I did yoga in the morning. That would leave my evenings free for something else.

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