Photo: Tom Rosenthal
I am very traditional about my yoga. I’m an ashtangi after all. We do the poses in a specific order, on specific days, in specific ways, staying true to the lineage that has gone before us. I often liken ashtanga yoga to Bach, or scales in music. It’s classical, steeped in tradition. Orderly. But even though I deeply believe in the system, even though I honor all the little details of the ashtanga yoga, I find there needs to be a little wiggle room, just like with my diet, just a tiny bit of rebellion to keep me going.
I am a modern woman splitting my time between office jobs and self-styled career, between NYC and the Hudson Valley, between husband and family and wandering yogi leanings. And not only that, I’m growing and changing all the time. My yoga has to have enough flexibility (pun intended) to bend with all that life throws at me. So sometimes (gasp!) I do 2nd series in the middle of the week. Or I take a Saturday practice so I can go into the office for an early Friday meeting. And, lately, my practice has required a little exploration outside of the vinyasa, a few props to help my body heal and adapt to new factors. I’ve used the internet (via facetime) and other technology to help inspire me to step on my mat on the hard days. And you know what? I feel more passion and devotion for my practice than ever!
You see, as one of my teachers says, you actually have to be a little bit of a rebel to commit to yoga in general and ashtanga specifically. I mean, who gets up and goes to bed that early without being a little bit of an outlier? Who would organize their rituals and meals and habits so carefully around such a demanding endeavor? You need a little bit of the rebel to walk such a strict path. And on the other hand, as I’ve said, you need to find the wiggle room in the tradition that allows the yoga to enhance your life, rather than having your life fit into the yoga.
For me, I needed the incredibly structured foundation for quite a few years to bring me to a point where I could explore what those rebellious boundaries are and how they can help me. My early demanding teachers were an amazing gift. And even now, or especially now, when things in my life or practice are feeling a little windy, a little off, I return to the hard and fast rules. But in the middle I find ways to make the whole lifestyle sustainable and enjoyable and still transformational in the way I crave, in all its blissful, tiring, sweaty, spiritual glory.
Intrigued? Join me at Yoga Works in Soho any Tuesday, Thursday or Friday at 7 AM, and look for some special offerings in the Hudson Valley, including an interesting and slightly rebellious partnership with a musician, coming soon. Space will be limited, so sign up for newsletter and blog updates on the right of this page to be among the first to know.