Saturday, October 8, 2011


When I first started practicing Ashtanga Yoga, I wanted to be able to do all the best poses right then and there. I did not care about the learning process in getting to them, I just wanted to be able to do a handstand with my legs crossed in lotus and then swing my legs through my arms. Seems like a pretty reasonable goal to reach in just a couple months huh? I grew easily frustrated as my body only became more and more sore over time and I could not understand why everything was only getting harder? I spoke to Kino MacGregor and told her I thought something was wrong with me because everything that was easy when I started was killing my body! Kino explained to me that this was the point, this was my turning point where I am building strength and the practice will only get harder but not to give up! If this came from anyone else I probably would've given up right there. What do you mean it's only going to get harder?! Shouldn't my body get used to this?! Yoga was supposed to be easy, why was I going through so much pain? But considering it was coming from the wise Kino MacGregor, I had no other option but to listen and keep on going. Everyday was difficult. I continued going to intro classes and still just wanted to be the best of the best and do everything Kino could do. As time went on I slowly moved up to half primary guided classes then moved on to full primary, then eventually Mysore. In half primary I thought I was doing amazing. I felt strong and saw I could do some things others couldn't. Then when I faced full primary, it was a lot harder but it was fun so why not? Lastly, I approached Mysore, which is a very deep and intense practice. My first Mysore class was at 6am with Julia Loftsford. I wanted to die. The whole practice I kept thinking "what the helllllll did I get myself into!?" I was way in over my head. People in the class were doing a second and third series practice while I was not even on half! The biggest problem that arose with me was headstand. Something that seemed so easy to everyone else was the scariest thing in the world to me. I thought about it before every practice and feared it before I even got close to it. I started attending 6pm Mysore classes with Patrick Nolan which seemed to fit me much better. Patrick was laid back and very helpful. 6pm was also much better than 6am. Most of the people in the class were on full primary rather than second series which wasn't as intimidating. But still every class I would look around and wish I could do what they could do. I was first stopped in Mysore at Marichyasana D. (In Mysore you practice up to the asana you can do on your own then once you get stuck you continue to practice up to that pose until that is also accomplished, then you move on). Marichyasana D made me feel like my lung was going to pop! I saw people in full primary still struggling with it and lost all hope that I would ever move on. I continued to go everyday and my spine became more and more flexible and sooner or later all I needed was on little pull from Patrick and I was in Marichyasana D! Finally, I was able to move on! The worse part, I was leaving for Costa Rica for a month the following week. I thought I was going to lose everything I learned. So I told myself to make sure I practiced all the time in Costa. Which I did. I would wake up at 5am somedays and practice, just me and the silence of the rainforest. It was beautiful. It also taught me that I was taking my practice WAY too seriously. I should practice what I know and just go with it, just like the great Guruji said, "practice and all is coming". So I followed his words of advice and practiced at my best. It was once I got back to Miami from Costa that I no longer wanted to practice. A few issues had arose in my head and I was feeling brainwashed by everyone. I no longer believed in Ashtanga Yoga and thought everything they did was too rough and not good for the body. I laid around and did nothing but work and go to school for almost a month. Then one day it hit me, I was being foolish and I had to get the hell back on my mat! I had forgotten how great yoga made me feel. So slowly I started going back to guided classes and then finally back to Mysore. Still, my number one problem was a headstand. I read an article written by Kino one day that she explained it took her 8 months to do a headstand! Kino MacGregor, struggled to do a headstand! Seems impossible. But it gave me faith that everyone has their own personal struggle in their practice and just like Guruji said, all is coming. I continued going to Mysore and received 3 more poses. But every time I came to my finishing asanas I wanted to cry! Patrick had to help me everyday get into a headstand. I still felt in over my head and was wondering when I will ever be able to do it. It had almost been 8 months for me and I was losing hope. Finally, one day, I stopped thinking about my practice. I stopped looking at everyone else in the class and how advanced they were. I just wanted my body to feel good and to just breathe and relax (really what the whole Ashtanga practice is about!) It is easy to say these things, but for once I was actually doing it. And imagine that, by letting all my fear and personal issues go, I popped myself right up into a headstand! And I stayed up for the whole 15 breaths. I almost fell because I was ecstatic and was smiling from ear to ear. It felt so good! It still feels good today when I look back on it. I will never forget that day. This struggle has taught me a lot. It has taught me the importance of patience. Everyone always says you need to have patience in life but who ever really listens? We're Americans. We want everything right now, today, at this second! But that isn't how life works. It isn't how the Ashtanga practice works. Everything takes time. The reason we are having so many problems in our world today is because no one has patience anymore and it is such an important virtue. This goes for all aspects of my life. Everyday I struggle as an almost college grad with the question of what next? But in my heart I know I am strong and determined and I am smart. I need to have patience that with my hard work, opportunities will arise and everything will be okay. Just like my Ashtanga practice, all is coming. With the recent passing of Steve Jobs I only find it appropriate to end this piece with a wonderful and inspiring quote from one of my favorite speeches, his Stanford Commencement speech. 
"Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference" (Steve Jobs).

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