Why I Practice Ashtanga Yoga.
Two people came by accident to the Ashtanga class I was about to teach.
They thought it would be a different type of Yoga, as the schedule hadn’t been updated on the Yoga studio webpage. They were really scared when they heard what class they had come to. It is incredible what kind of wild stories exist about Ashtanga.
But actually it is no wonder. So many teachers given perfect flexible bodies are teaching Ashtanga. A lot of those teachers don’t understand those bodies that have some problems. I recall how many times I was close to stop practicing Ashtanga, even not so long time ago, due to the fact that my body is anything but flexible and perfect.
It was quite frustrating practicing with teachers who were helping mostly those who had good bodies, calling them gifted and amazing. Well, if somebody is born with a flexible body, what is so amazing when he/she quickly does difficult and complicated asanas without much effort?
Amazing is when somebody with some problems continues and does not give up. Additionally, people with over-flexible bodies must be even more careful than the stiff ones, as they can have serious injuries quicker by doing complicated asanas too soon, prior to developing enough muscles to protect them.
I have been riding horses since I was 10, and I had many accidents. I started practicing Yoga some years ago, during a time when I was waking up in the middle of the night out of pain and had to take painkillers to go back to sleep. Still I practice Ashtanga and it helps and heals my body, as long as I practice in a good way and listen to my body.
Ashtanga really doesn’t kill. I am convinced that everybody can practice it, unless you’re being lazy and don’t want to try. But as long as many teachers and practitioners promote Ashtanga workshops on the internet with pictures of crazy asanas, a lot of people will think that Ashtanga Yoga is only for the chosen ones.
The majority of mortal people don’t have over-flexible bodies and even those not very spectacular easy and boring asanas are very difficult for them at the beginning. What’s wrong with pictures of Downward Dog or Trikonasana?
Why do I choose Ashtanga?
I am talking only about my case. Everybody is different, so I am not trying to convince anybody. I have tried most kinds of Yoga, I think, and couldn’t stick to any of them until I experienced Ashtanga. Why? Personally I can’t remove stress from my body only by sitting and relaxation; I need something more.
Ashtanga is based on both breath and movement. Sometimes when I have a difficult time and I am tired, it is difficult to get up in the morning and get on the mat. First sun salutations and standing postures are a fight sometimes; we start with standing postures in Ashtanga, though it is difficult for a lot of people because they are very grounding.
But usually with every breath, every posture, the stress and tiredness leave my body and mind. Then only I am ready to relax at the end of my practice
I start to believe again and have so much energy at the end that I can go on to my daily tasks and move on. But it is a demanding practice. If you come once or twice a week to classes, it will be always difficult. That’s why a daily practice is necessary.
People love finding excuses. I have no time, I am tired, etc. If you do just few sun salutations at the beginning, but every day, because you are not able for different reasons to do more, it is already a daily practice.
You can hear from many people that Ashtanga is dangerous and causes injuries. Not true. I have healed a lot of injuries with Ashtanga. Human ego and wrong practice cause injuries, not Ashtanga itself.
Ashtanga is important to me, but not because of the more and more difficult asanas you can do if you practice on a regular basis and which almost everybody loves putting up on the internet. It just helps me to see everything from a distance and move on, even in the very difficult moments in life.
To get up and to continue and to leave the fear behind, regardless of how difficult the path may be, and full of stones.
Justyna Mitka is from Poland and considers horses to be her first great passion. She started to ride when she was 10 years old. She has been working for years with young and difficult (destroyed by people and the wrong treatment) horses and had many accidents because of it. She couldn’t sleep at night without painkillers, and that is when her Yoga journey began. She saw that you could change a lot with a regular Yoga practice and hat you can heal not only your body, but your soul. You are in better balance, both inside and outside, and yoga helps you live in a better way. Additionally, it helped her become a better horsewoman. Now she tries to teach both horsemanship and Yoga (separate or together during classes and workshops). She first wanted to help horses as they changed her life and the world to become a little bit better place for them. She was escaping from the human world to the equine world many times in her life. Now, thanks to Yoga, she is not escaping anymore and would like to help people as well, by sharing her Yoga passion with them. She practices Ashtanga Yoga but is open to learning different approaches, as everybody is different and needs something different.