I have been practicing yoga for 3 years now. I absolutely love being on the mat and looking inwards. Recently, I started practicing Ashtanga Yoga. I was truly inspired by the dedication and discipline of Ashtanga. I naturally gravitated towards the structure of each series. So I began my journey through the Primary Series. Here is what I learned:
1. Practice, practice, practice: The obvious one. It must be done at least 3 times a week. With practice comes improvement – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Practice is key!
2. Perseverance: Ashtanga Yoga requires a lot of patience. I expected to go into class and learn crazy handstands and lifts. I had a “superficial” view of Yoga. Don’t get me wrong, handstands are amazing and takes time to learn. However, Yoga isn’t just about handstands. Its a deeper and a personal journey.
When I completed the Primary Series for the first time, my view on yoga shattered. Even though I have been practicing I almost felt like I was starting from scratch. I was truly humbled, I slowly started letting go of expectations and ego. And I tried to simply be. Our bodies are precious and it is so important to be thankful for all that it allows us to do each and everyday. Through Ashtanga Yoga I’ve learned to appreciate the simple things and have patience to learn and continuously improve.
3. Frustration is part of the process: Yes, it was the most frustrating beginning. There is a lot of movement and a lot of stillness involved in Ashtanga Yoga. When holding the poses for 5 full breaths my mind wandered, I couldn’t focus nor enjoy the moment. I wanted to just be in the moment without worrying about the past or future, but being present was difficult. My body became restless and fidgety and I became so frustrated. I hated being there, I hated myself and I hated thinking.
My thoughts were so rude, filled with doubt and animosity. I tried my best to push past all the frustration, but I broke down. I cried and yelled at myself for “sucking.” I stopped my practice because I couldn’t deal with myself. I didn’t know how to handle my negative thoughts, I didn’t know how to focus or be still, so I decided to give up. And it didn’t get easier. I would start and stop and quit and get back into it.
I’m still facing myself and it’s a challenge. I didn’t have a magical moment where everything clicked and worked out. However, I am able to understand that wandering is part of the process. Rather than label it as negativity or become frustrated, I’ve learned to go through it in a more calmer manner. Some days are better than others, but I get on the mat everyday. Whether it be for 5 minutes or hours. I am constantly learning to just be.
What I want you to know is, this is normal. Don’t give up on this path. It will be long, tiring, and frustrating. But it will also be beautiful and worth it. You will slowly but surely learn to love yourself, your body and your life.