I came to Ashtanga yoga later in life. I had been practising other types of yoga for a number of years. It just so happened that a friend taught ashtanga and I was looking for a practice I could do on my own, without relying on class timetables or teachers staying in one place.
It came at a time when I was making changes – I was planning to take time out from working as a lawyer and to move back home from Sydney
I immediately knew that I loved the practice and I worked diligently with my teacher. It gave me a focus, grounding and a structure at a time when a lot was happening. My progress was fast and within a few months I had applied for and has been accepted for my teacher training during my sabbatical from work.
I loved my teacher training. It was physically the hardest thing I had ever done. I felt a great sense of achievement. I felt a deep sense of connection with myself and the world around me. I felt very free.
I had no aspirations to teach, just to continue to learn. Through a coincidental series of events, I returned to Sydney after some travels and started teaching at a dedicated ashtanga studio. Again, I loved it. I was challenged in a very different way to the law and I had to learn quickly to find my feet.
I decided not to return to the law, at least not for a while. I moved back to the UK and to Lewes. I continued to teach a few classes. My classes evolved into non traditional ashtanga classes with music and candles, as it just felt right for the students and for me.
My own practice continued to be ashtanga. But my enthusiasm for the practice was not there. Somewhere along the line I had started to question what I had taken as read.
I had started to see and hear things in the ashtanga world that didn’t feel right. For me, yoga in its true sense was free from agendas and all the things that were in my world before. It was free from human shortcomings.
And it made me think. I felt let down and disillusioned. For what was the point of all the hard work and dedication if it was not for something different. For a different way of doing things. Not for the same all over again dressed up in the name of yoga.
My practice started to slip away. I prioritised teaching over my own practice since I had made up my mind that I couldn’t do everything. And why would I work so very hard for something that was not all it was cracked up to be.
At the end of last year I had pretty much decided that I was done with ashtanga. It had been an interesting journey. But it was no longer making me feel good. In fact all I ever seemed to feel was guilty for not having a daily practice and often inadequate for not being able to do it. It was time, I felt, for a change as it was clearly something for others but not for me.
But there was still a glimmer of something I couldn’t shake. I decided to give it one more go, just to satisfy myself. A new space in Brighton had caught my eye.
I made a New Years resolution to practice there for a month. Just a month, to see what happened.
So I turned up early one day. And then the next day and the one after…and I just got my mat out and practiced how I knew how to. And I saw someone quite different on the mat. Someone who was enjoying the practice for whatever it was.
I found much support and guidance from the teacher. I felt very grateful for not having to do it on my own any more. Thank you Jess!
And I came to realise that maybe it had always been that simple. Just showing up, rolling out my mat and seeing what happened. And the rest really did not matter. And so I continue to turn up, roll out my mat and to see what happens…