The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Curious Cat dropped me a note to ask if I have exchanged hatha yoga for ashtanga and why. I thought I'd answer that in a blog post - saves me the brain power of thinking up another topic! ;)

First things first; no, I have not traded one for the other. I still practice hatha on a regular basis. If I am doing an ashtanga practice, then I wind down with a hatha sequence. And if my body is on strike, then I pamper it with a pure hatha practice. Sometimes - and the ashtanga purists will clutch their hearts in horror at this! - I turn the ashtanga series into a hatha/Iyengar practice by holding the asanas for eight breaths instead of five.

Funny thing is, I had resisted ashtanga for the longest time because it was too high powered. Then, sometime last year, I began yearning for a more strength and stamina-based practice. One night, I attended PDN's dance performance and marvelled at how he didn't look the slightest bit breathless in all the 75 minutes. Backstage, I asked him where his endurance came from and he replied with a smile, "Ashtanga". I was sold even before I did my first chaturanga leap.

For a solid two months, I had a daily Ashtanga practice. And I loved it. It gave me strength, stamina and a meditative practice. It showed me how grace exists within strength. But it is demanding. And after a while, I missed the gentleness of hatha and the unforgiving precision of Iyengar. So I allowed myself to romp freely among all these different styles.

Personally, I don't think it is necessary to commit yourself to a certain style. Yoga is a personal journey and you can't build fences around your practice. The jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none rule doesn't apply here, because you can never truly master your practice. No matter how many years you've been practicing, each time you step on the mat, you learn something new. And you have to be open to receiving that.

So don't feel you have to forsake one style for another. Your journey will only be richer if you explore, discover and understand without struggling to honour boundaries that should never have existed in the first place.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Starlight, thank you so much for the reply. I have been fighting a battle of yearning to try out ashtanga vs the fact that i am clumsy etc. and basically frightened of my 'failings'. Time to get over the block :-). Any suggestions as to where i should go? - curious cat.

4:15 AM  
Blogger starlight said...

Hi Curious Cat. Thank you for your question! Please please don't be afraid of 'failing'. There are no standards or finishing lines in yoga, so you 'failing' is impossible. And your clumsiness is just in your mind, your body knows better so let it lead you on your journey. :) just go in with no expectatations and you'll be fine. remember, you are exactly where you need to be right now and your practice will meet you there.

Manasa Yoga in SS2 (i'm assuming you're from KL!) is a good place to start. Give it a shot and let me know what you think. I was told that there aren't many good ashtanga teachers around, but I'll dig a little deeper and let you know. Good luck and have a great time!!!

7:47 AM  

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