Day 09

Style: Ashtanga
Teacher: Michael Dynie
Studio: Rama Lotus

I love Ashtanga. After this Yin-tensive week, it's good to be home. I think I'm slowly becoming that strange green dude from my childhood as my connective tissue turns to molasses. It feels good to step back into the ring and go pound for pound with an Ashtanga sequence.

The yogic apple of my eye is an ancient system popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois. The word Ashtanga means "eight limbs" in Sanskrit, which refers to the eight limbs described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The style is characterized by a focus on Vinyasa, or a linking of breath. Essentially the breath dictates the movement and the length of time held in the postures. Ashtanga differs from some other yoga styles in that attention is placed on the journey between the postures and not just the postures themselves. Like the Bikram method, there is a set order of poses. However, they differ in two ways (at least); first of all, the teacher isn't bound to the sequence slavishly. There is a freedom to play with the order to some degree. Second is the complexity. Where Bikram consists of 26 poses, the primary series of Ashtanga consists of 75 and takes an hour and a half to two hours to complete. It starts with sun salutations and moves to standing poses, seated poses, inversions and backbends before relaxation. Due to time constraints, teachers usually have to pick and choose certain moves to leave out, but the overall structure always remains the same.

As we twist and bend in this late-night yoga class, passing through Warrior poses and binds, back-bends and headstands, it suddenly dawns on me. I'm happy. Even with my turning the practice of yoga into a 90-day marathon, I still absolutely love it. After all the Yin of the last few days, and the infinity-of-forever that are it's poses, I feel like the Ashtanga sequence is flying by me. Flowing from posture to posture, time blurs past and before I know it I'm sinking into final Savasana. Relaxation taking over, I close my eyes. This final pose is like a one way ticket for a flight off-planet, and I climb aboard my spacecraft. The countdown begins, and I levitate through the ceiling of the Sky room, passing through the clouds and the eye of the moon.


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