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practicing ashtanga yoga

practicing ashtanga yoga

by johnny benavente
Practice Yoga | Types | | Personal Story | | Ashtanga yoga |

early struggles and the good things happening inside
So I began this practice that is Ashtanga back in November and started a home practice around early January. I couldn't afford to become a member of a studio so in addition to my home practice I did guided led classes once or twice a week. Just that was changing my life so out of self-love I finally decided to roll the dice and have faith that the finances would work itself out and enrolled as a member which allowed me to start Mysore style Ashtanga yoga.

I think a lot of us come to this practice and are looking for transformation and the practice does indeed provide transformation in a very short period of time, at least for me it has. I now wake up at 5:30 am most days, drive to the beach to the shala, I arrive and the usually sunny and loud south beach streets are dark, quite, and very peaceful.

I enter the shala, greet the front desk lady, and grab a towel. I walk in to the Mysore room, my teacher points to my spot. I set up my mat, try not to step on anyone in the packed room. I still can’t believe how many people wake up this early to do this and I just think these people must be nuts and then realize I’m there too most days with them.

I do my opening prayers to myself, and then jump right into it, there’s always a feeling of "oh here we go again", then I just try my best not to get frustrated, sometimes a sense of unworthiness creeps in, anger and ego poke their heads in too most of the time. I also get very hard on myself and compare myself to others. These are the negative tendencies of my personality that have been expressing themselves lately in my practice. This is what gets expressed when I am going through really difficult situations in life if I’m not being conscious and aware.

I believe you can use your asana practice to help you become aware of how you react to things when you’re being tested. Then you can try and be aware of those emotions during your practice.Try your best not to get stuck in the same loop of emotions and instead of reacting to them respond with equanimity and just accept yourself.

This is all about becoming stronger inside. It’s about developing your character, integrity, and equanimity. It’s about doing the work you need to do to transcend and let go of the bad stuff in you so you can become a better person with more happiness, joy, and peace inside.
That’s why yoga is a spiritual practice, a very strong one at that. It breaks you down. I have faith that eventually it builds you back up.

Lately I've been getting stuck in all my fears though. Every single day I fall out of Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and get pissed off, I get frustrated in backbends, I hate Janu Sirasana C on the right side, and my shoulders fight with all their might to bind in anything. I do a good job at not getting distracted by all the incredibly flexible people, just looking at my drishti minding my own business, but who am I kidding it’s a distraction.

I don’t know how this works but this practice just reveals all your suffering to you. It’s really amazing and it’s really hard. I have a lot of admiration and respect for longtime ashtangi’s and I often wonder if this is easy for them or if everyone is going through their own unique struggle in their practice. Am I the only challenged one?

The strangest thing though after only a couple months of daily practice and a month of mysore I feel really good inside, like really good! My sleep schedule is better, waking up early and sitting down for breakfast after practice with my book about Guruji and fresh squeezed orange juice is insanely amazing. My diet is a lot better, my anxiety gone and I feel more alive.

I feel really happy and joyful, cracking more jokes than usual, and it really helped me to heal from a breakup in a really healthy way. My spiritual self-study time has been so much more focused and I am really loving the Yoga Sutra class being taught by my teacher and getting to hang with all the amazing people at the shala. Just being around positive people that you look up to makes you stronger and gives you something to strive for.