Ashtanga Yoga from Scratch

There is a common misconception that in order to start to practice ashtanga yoga, one must already be something other than longing for freedom. Don’t you need to already know the asanas, the sequence, and those fancy jumps? Don’t you need to have maybe even a few years of studio classes, workshops, perhaps a teacher training, just to start ashtanga?

No. How do I know?  Because I started ashtanga mysore style from scratch. For many years I awaited the fine moment when I would be ready to commit myself to the practice of yoga. Throughout my previous life mountain climbing, traveling, and adventuring, I always hoped to someday be ready for yoga.

It wasn’t until I was about 30, that I found myself in San Francisco with the clear and long-awaited message:  now begins the teaching of yoga. I had lived the traveling student life, the urban professional life, the mountain climbing bum life, and more. I had walked (literally) thousands of miles, climbed countless rock walls and snowy peaks, and was finally ready to surrender my wandering ways and established thinking patterns to try something totally different – the inward journey of yoga.

It took me all of about a dozen formal yoga classes of various kinds to know that ashtanga was to be my practice.  And after only about a month in San Francisco, I took my local yoga teacher’s suggestion to learn from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India.

I set out for Mysore knowing and expecting very little of ashtanga yoga, but with all the hope in the world. What I did have was an undeniable feeling that in my 30 years of life, the ways I had been striving for happiness always left me wanting more. I carried in me ways of thinking and feeling that I was ready to overcome.

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