One of the original intentions for Ashtanga yoga was to help teenage boys blow off steam. What about this practice drew you so strongly (at an age slightly beyond your teens)?
Hey – did you just call me old?
(I’ll now move on from third person, if you don’t mind.)
I love the physicality of an Ashtanga practice. Is that wrong to admit? Do you think less of me now? There’s more, but it’s important to recognize that this type of yoga is a very physical practice and those that are drawn here find the benefit of a strong and supple body.
But like I said, there is more …
Ashtanga challenges me, inspires me, and keeps me grounded. It is a practice that encourages - actually demands - commitment and dedication. Much of my day is spent in a creative capacity (I’m a writer) with little to no structure – I need and crave the steadiness and discipline from my yoga to keep my world in balance.
If you HAD to choose…Ashtanga or Rocket?
You did not just ask me this, did you? That’s like asking which child I love better? I have one child who is disciplined, reliable, and a real go-getter. The other is a whimsical, easy going, and will never die of a heart attack - according to his second grade teacher. And I love them both with all that I am, for each makes my life better and happier and more fulfilled.
Ashtanga is that disciplined, reliable, and high achieving practice. Its daily practice is structured in a way where each posture is introduced as the student is ready to receive. It is a practice of mastery and dedication and not for the faint-hearted.
Rocket is based on the Ashtanga sequences but offers students variations and the opportunity to experience the more advanced postures they may not necessarily be proficient in yet. It is more creative and fun and gives the student room to play with their edge.
Ashtanga is very much about working from the place you are now – and Rocket is more about working from a place of possibility.
I need them both so, nuh-uh, I’m not choosing.
When you’re in DC, what do you miss most about MT? When you’re in MT, what do you miss most about DC?
I remember driving down the Boulder road one summer morning with a view framed by the mountains, river, and intensely blue sky. My husband said, “Enjoy this view for soon it will be replaced by a jammed interstate, tall buildings, and grayer skies.”
I miss that beauty and majesty right now. When I’m in Montana, I can slow down, relax, and truly just be. It’s like a long and luxurious exhale. I miss the great outdoors, the hiking, and even the fly fishing (my husband’s form of yoga). But most of all, I miss my girl, who is currently a sophomore at MSU. I’d have to say, I miss her the most.
DC has an energy that’s palpable. I enjoy the frenetic hustle and bustle of the city. I love the excitement, the diversity, and if I were to be honest – the shopping! I practice and teach at the Ashtanga Yoga Center in DC where we offer both traditional Ashtanga and now Rocket Yoga. So more than anything, when I’m in Montana, I miss my teachers, my students, and my morning Mysore practice.
Because I just have to know: what is your fave pose in the Ashtanga primary series, and what lessons has it taught you? your least fave pose, and its lessons…?
I love all of primary series. Yep, even kurmasana, supta kurmasana, and marichyasana D. Crazy, right? (editor's note: yes. especially if you love supta kurmasana. I'm just sayin'...) But the primary series focuses mostly on the parasympathetic nervous system, a lot of forward folding, hip opening, etc. Kind of like that long exhale of Montana living.
I’m not so cracked up about second series, however. So much stimulation with it’s backward bending - gets my heart racing till I want to put on the brakes.
But perhaps there is something more...I require less assistance in primary series, but in second, I have to have help all over the place. There are at least three postures that to really get, I need to be “put” into them. And the worst is supta vajrasana. No one can do this posture without assistance – though I’ve seen many creatively try. It entails lotusing up your legs, binding your hands behind your back, a teacher pretty much sits on your legs and drops you back on your head 5 times. (I can’t make this shit up!)
We learn most from the postures we hate than the ones we love. And yes, you guessed it. Most of all, I hate to need help – I hate to surrender. Surrender to rest, surrender to a teacher, surrender to a higher power. This continues to be my lesson – on and off the mat.
Labels: Interviews, Montana, Yoga