Ashtanga Yoga School Charlotte teaches traditional Ashtanga in the lineage of Sri K Pattabhi Jois
Schedule is subject to change for Moon Days, Workshops and Holidays. For the most up to date schedule, please visit Y2Yoga.com.Read more
Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of Yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passedRead more
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What does that mean? It means that I allow my yoga practice to serve my life, and not my life to serve my yoga practice.
Like all of you, I have a jam packed life. I have four kids, a husband I love, and a big hairy golden retriever. My main goal every day is to be a happy balanced person, who supports and encourages the people around me. In order to achieve that goal, I have to accept that every day is going to be different. Every day will have ups and downs. The only thing in my control is how I respond to the ebbs and flows of life.
Ashtanga yoga has given me the tools to cultivate acceptance in my spirit. I have always been a take charge, get it done sort of person. I am also a natural at self-judgment, at worrying about my weaknesses or shortcomings. When I combined having a big, busy family with my own need to be “perfect” and get everything done “right” – I was constantly battling my own thoughts and questioning myself. For me, “acceptance” does not mean just letting everything happen to me – acceptance means actively appreciating the situations I find myself in – and not allowing myself to fall into old patterns of negative thoughts. Through yoga, I practice actively accepting myself however I show up any given day. Some days I am rockin’ strong and other days I am exhausted and lost. I know that both states are temporary so the best thing I can do for myself is accept them as they are – breath and move through them and keep moving forward.
In addition to strength and flexibility – yoga gives me the space to find that inner peace. I was drawn to Ashtanga because once I learned the practice, I could do it anywhere, with any amount of time. It is the perfect householder form of yoga for that reason. My teacher, Larry Hobbs, instilled in me early on – it’s not how long you practice or how many postures you do – just come and do whatever you can do in the time you have available – and do it well. So if I only have 30 minutes – I will get on my mat, do sun salutes and the finishing series. If I have 2 hours – I will do everything I have been taught. Either way, I will put my best effort into each breath. Every day in my life is different so my practice will also have to be different.
I go into the studio whenever I can – to surround myself with our community and my teachers. I get in whatever I have time for – and I accept whatever that practice was that day. When I travel to my in-law’s log cabin in the summer, I go practice on the dock before everyone wakes up. When I take my kids on sports tournament weekends, I always take my mat and practice in my room or by the field. My family knows – I take my mat everywhere and I may very well be “that” person in the airport lounge. Some days my mat stays rolled up and I don’t get to it at all – and that’s OK too. There’s no judgment – only effort AND acceptance.
We talk about yogi sleep patterns and diet sometimes. Some yogis are vegans, some vegetarians, and some eat beef jerky right before class. Ashtangis often eat light meals early in the day so their stomachs are empty the next day for practice. Sometimes I can achieve that – and my practice always feels better when I do. But by nature of my erratic, full family life – sometimes I find myself up super late eating potato chips and ice cream. Life is meant to be lived – and enjoyed. My practice helps me find peace, self-acceptance, perspective and so much more. I try not to ever let lack of sleep, travel, injury, emotions, exhaustion, or even ice cream, keep me from practicing. But when I do – that’s OK too – because there is always tomorrow.
This photo is me practicing during my son’s baseball lesson. I have to keep one ear on the lesson so I can help him remember all of the awesome tips he learns from his teacher.
By Shanna Small
“The practice of Yoga must reduce both physical and mental impurities. It must develop our capacity for self examination and help us to understand that we are not the masters of everything we do.”-TKV Desikachar
Making shapes, without self reflection on the internal space, results in a practice that gives unsustainable results. The high right after Yoga is short term. Equanimity is long term. The ability to execute a Yoga pose is short term and subject to factors such as health, age and the absence of hardship. The internal fortitude, gained while working on these poses, is long term.
The focus of Yoga is usually on the parts that are not sustainable. These are the easiest to see and to acquire so it makes sense that we start there. The benefits that are sustainable are the hardest to acquire and the ones least likely to be worked on. However, these are the benefits that keep people on their mat for 10, 20, 30 years. These are the ones that get people up in the morning.
The deep internal benefits are the ones that make us into good people, not just when everything is going our way, but also when everything is falling apart.
This only happens when our Yoga practice is allowed to change us. For many, Yoga just shifts their aggression, anger, angst, shame,fear, worthlessness and unhappiness for a little while. It must be allowed to go so deep that all the path ways to our suffering are eradicated.
For this to occur, we have to let go of our excuses and reasons for why we are angry, fearful or unhappy. Yoga asks that we accept how we feel, let go of the story and embark on a new way to live. It asks us to accept that we are not the masters of everything we do. That our pain and suffering is guiding us and it is a hideous master and we must refuse to be its willing servant.
In Mysore, I asked Sharath what he meant by perfection in asana. He answered, and I paraphrase, that perfection was being able to dissolve yourself in the asana. Being one with it. He said that sometimes, “he” is just gone. He doesn’t know where “he” is.
When we practice, we are not looking for a certain look to an asana. We are looking for a certain quality. As Claire Pip Cullipher spoke of so beautifully today, the quality is ease. It is in that ease that we can dissolve the self created story of “I” and just be.
Ease does not mean that each pose looks like a Yoga Journal photograph. It doesn’t even mean that the pose is easy!! Ease is seen in the full complete breath. It is in the serene look on the face. It is seen in the soft but steady gaze towards the drishti. It is seen in the compassionate receptive energy.
On the mat, Ashtanga automatically silences the voices of negativity in our minds. When practice is correct, meaning your eyes are on a drishti, your breath is full and resonant, your focusing on an asana,and the Vinyasa is on count, you don’t have space to think!!! All of this activity keeps you rooted in the present. if the voices come, I guarantee you that either the pose, the breath, the gaze or the Vinyasa count is incorrect.
The same is true for your life. If the voices come, you have taken your focus from the present moment. Connect back to life in the present moment and they will start to recede. Hug your children. Read a good book. Eat something delicious. Tell the voices to shut up by reconnecting with life.
What Students Say
It's a daily practice, a life long journey, and, although this is just the beginning, I can already see, and feel the changes it's making in my life. I have a tendency of trying to protect my heart by staying guarded, which keeps me in the past. I've learned that in trying to protect my heart, I have kept myself from, truly, giving and showing love, as well as receiving love. I am beyond thankful to my teachers for pushing me, believing in me, and being such an inspiration.........and for showing me that what I fear the most, is exactly what I need! This practice makes me emotional, in a wonderful way........it's in my soul, and my heart! Ashtanga is a way of life on and off your mat, and this is only the beginning!
Thank you Mara for a great practice today. You are my magical unicorn. Ha. I can't say enough about Ashtanga yoga and the group of teachers we have Y2Yoga. For people who need a little motivation...I've lost 9 pounds in just 11 days and my chronic joint pain is going away off the mat. All I'm doing different is adding Ashtanga to my yoga practice. Ashtanga chages you on a cellular level. It just makes other yoga classes more powerful. It is freedom. I am so blessed and grateful.