Introducing Ashtanga...introducing control without force...introducing discipline without yelling...introducing challenge without threat...introducing self-reflection without judgement. The boys in yesterday's class took to the Ashtanga practice like I've never seen before. Ashtanga, founded by K. Pattabhi Jois, is a set of 26 poses based on "99% practice and 1% theory." Improvement is shown in the body and the mind as you move through the same series week after week. It even becomes very meditative once the body's muscle memory kicks in and you know where to go. We started by watching a demo video of Ashtanga master David Swenson, doing some pretty extreme poses. The boys mouths were all agape and eyes were wide. We talked about how yes, some people are naturally flexible and can throw themselves into a pose with ease. But while they're there, their minds may start to lose focus and their minds may start to wander...what's for dinner? They need to stay centered and keep working to go even further. Then we talked about how the majority of the yoga world has to work towards achieving these poses, even David Swenson! They have to practice week after week to gain flexibility and strength. They have to remain focused in the pose to check in with their bodies to see if they can go further or if they need to ease up. They remain engaged in what they are doing to stay in the present moment. This is the practice of yoga.
After a couple rounds of Sun Salutations and a modified Ashtanga practice, the boys settled into a deep Savasana (final rest). No squirming, no giggling, no poking their neighbors. Just rest. I was so proud of them. They all stayed so focus, figuring out how to get into each pose, following breath instruction, not getting frustrated, but accepting where they were and challenging themselves to go further. This yoga is a practice. We don't know unless we try and we'll never get there unless we keep trying. Way to go, boys!!! Best class ever!!!
BONUS!: For the rest of the month, I will be covering the adult Ashtanga class.
Come practice with me Tuesdays from 6-7:15pm!