Learning to Enjoy Routine (Yoga Challenge: Day 25)

The Ashtanga style of yoga didn’t used to be my favourite style, but it is quickly taking over.

Doing yoga six days a week has been a lot to process. Aside from the constant learning and dealing with ‘where I’m at’ each day as I come to the mat, some

David Swenson's "Ashtanga Yoga"

classes require even more thought. In a Flow class, for instance, as the practitioner you don’t ever quite know where it’s going. The sequence is really up to the creative mind of your instructor. It’s actually quite ironic that it’s called a “flow” because in many ways it flows a lot less than other styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga.

The past two weeks, however, I have grown to really love the Ashtanga classes and the routine of flowing from posture to posture in sequence. This really allows you to focus on your breath, as our instructor pointed out at our 8am practise today. He mentioned that the asanas provide a challenge to your breath. Your work is to keep it consistent. It’s quite difficult to do that, though, when you don’t know what posture you are moving into. But, if you know where you are going next, as you do in Ashtanga, you can really stay focused and still challenge yourself to go deeper in each asana.

Lesson from Day 25

I love all  styles and mixing things up from day to day. But, I think my next challenge after this 30 day yoga challenge may be to do a six day/week Primary Series Ashtanga practise, even if it’s just at home. Even just for a short while. Thankfully, I have David Swenson’s Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual to guide me.

I’m not usually a creature of habit and routine, but I go through phases where I enjoy it, if even in one aspect of my life. The moment that becomes ‘stale’ for me, I’ll begin to mix it up again or find a new way of approaching it so that it can be fresh again.

One of my favourite quotes is by an author named Donald Miller.

“Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.” (Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts)

Keep changing. Keep things fresh. Life is boring if you’re reading the same page recurrently.

A six day/week Ashtanga Practise might be might next challenge.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

The Gift of Yoga (Yoga Challenge: Day 11)

One thing I never considered before going into this yoga challenge is that I wouldn’t always be able to choose my classes.

When I go 2-3 times a week, I can generally choose which class I want to go to based on how I feel and what mood I’m in. Each instructor offers a different kind of class, even if the “style” is the same. For instance, a Flow class can be slow and meditative, fast-paced, playful or physically challenging.

But when you are going 30 days in a row, you can’t always choose which class you want to go to. I’m trying to fit these classes into my work week and some days there’s only one I can go to. This removes an element of control I have over my mental state going into my yoga practise each day and it has been a rather strange experience.

Lesson from Day 11

I say “strange experience” because this has taught me something new about the yoga practise that I didn’t expect to learn. Many people, including myself, can be real consumers when it comes to practising yoga. I’m not talking about the competing yoga apparel brands (though that definitely plays a role here). What I’m talking about is this: Sometimes I go to a class because I feel like it and I need it. I like that instructor and their style suits me today.

See the problem here?

It’s too much about me. Simply going every day to whatever class is available to me has taught me to go in with an open mind and ready to gratefully receive whatever my practise will bring me that day.

In that way, yoga is an incredible gift. It’s not something that we should be consuming like a chocolate bar. But I deserve to be eating this chocolate bar after the hard day I’ve had. It just tastes so good! Yes, it does. But receive it like a gift that you didn’t expect and didn’t deserve.

It will be that much sweeter.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.