Long Time Gone

It’s been over four years since I’ve posted anything to this blog, but I’m still practicing. Other than the chair yoga I make my creative writing students do in the first five minutes of class, I’m not teaching any yoga, and that’s probably for the best. My calling lies elsewhere. Standing in the front of a shala and making the call for samasthiti isn’t meant for me.

In the years between my last post and this one, practice has remained a near-constant. In the fall of 2016, I took three months off from Ashtanga to explore other styles of yoga and pursue different fitness activities. HIIT classes, pole, and slow flow were fun, but Ashtanga eventually called me home, and I rebuilt my practice from Surya A onward.

Today, Ashtanga is still part of my life. My husband even practices with me. But it isn’t the focal point, and it probably never will be again. While I used to think real Ashtangis had to practice six days a week, now I’m thrilled if I get to my mat three or four times a week. Instead of forcing myself through my entire sequence every time I practice, I’m okay with (gasp) skipping poses on days I need to shorten my practice. That used to sound like sacrilege, but really, it’s a reasonable method that lets me get to the rest of my day on time and still work on my “struggle pose.”

Rather than building my life around practice, I now build practice into my life.

Perhaps the largest shift involves teaching. I’m no longer attempting to teach yoga (I probably wasn’t ready), and I’m no longer running from teacher to teacher like an Ashtangi version of that little bird from Dr. Seuss’ Are You My Mother? Ultimately, the practice is my teacher, and although I’m grateful to every single teacher who’s worked with me along the way, I’m not willing to travel just to get regular input on my practice.

Other things are more important. Ben and I are hoping to start a family soon. I’m working on a PhD in creative writing. Horses, the beings that nurtured me through childhood and adolescence, have reentered my life, and I’m blessed enough to have a little mare of my own. My mom just moved back to town, putting us in the same city for the first time in sixteen years. My brother and sister-in-law just had their first baby. I’m gardening again. Ashtanga complements these aspects of my life. Before, it eclipsed them.

I’m writing this during the Coronavirus pandemic, and COVID has made me grateful for my Ashtanga background. I knew how to do self-practice before the shala closed. Regular practice is helping to shape days that can otherwise feel a little shapeless with all the blending of work and home and Zoom. The grace I’ve learned to give myself around practice has been especially useful, because I had to apply that grace to nearly every other area of my life. Usually, my tendency is to complete all things at 100% energy, and that stopped being possible in those early weeks of March and April 2020, when COVID-19 dominated the news cycle and no one knew what to expect.

It might be another four years before I post here again–or maybe I never will–but I hope I’m still practicing in 2024 and beyond.

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