Ashtanga’s Biggest Problem*
June 26, 2012 § 2 Comments
Are the Ashtangis.
You know, the ones who say that “Ashtanga is the Ferrari of yoga”. Who proudly wear the badges of injuries and joint dislocations as necessary collateral in the pursuit of asana advancement. Who draw and maintain a strict boundary between “Us” – the ones who change diets, lives and sleeping patterns in the name of samadhi – and “Them”, those who are not committed enough to change their lives for a 6-day practice.
They view the world through the narrow lens of asana, judging the worth of others by their ability (or lack of) to put their legs behind the head while balancing on their hands.
They don’t understand that the goal of the practice is to enhance our life off the mat, but instead insist that it’s the other way around.
They talk about asana all. the. time.
I could go on, but I won’t. Lest you think that I’m turning into a variant of a yoga hipster keen on dissing everything that’s wrong with the world – I’m not. I’m just trying to be real about the illusions around the practice and the stories we tell ourselves about this identity of being an “Ashtangi”. Those traits I listed above? I see them in myself, particularly in the first year of practice when I was swept up with the intensity of it all, and was plotting my way to Second Series nine months in.
How fabulously shallow it is. And how contrary it runs to the eight limbs of this lineage that we’re supposedly working towards by contorting ourselves into a ridiculous amount of poses on a sticky mat.
I’m currently in the midst of a 10-day workshop with Chuck Miller and if you’ve practiced with him in the past couple of years, you’ll understand why I’m writing this post right now. His views on yoga, the Ashtanga practice and how its a privilege and tool for change in our lives (and by extension, the world) is an inspiring and much-needed cleanse of the mind and its illusions that accumulate through our conditioned existence. Mind-blowing.
*Substitute “Ashtanga” with your social group of choice: Christianity, Iyengar, the Tea Party, Politicians….
“If you want to see a miracle, look into the mirror.” ~Chuck Miller