If I Can Do It, You Can. By: Butler Raines
If I Can Do It, You Can.
I don’t belong in a yoga class.
People often say they can’t do yoga because they can’t “touch their toes.” I was 240lbs, an alcoholic and definitely couldn’t touch my toes. I only knew about yoga because I dated this Buddhist girl in graduate school 15 years ago. I signed up anyway. I typed “basic yoga Atlanta” in the search engine and this fat Southern boy wound up in my first Ashtanga class.
I can’t do Mysore style.
A few weeks into my 8 weeks of Basics of Ashtanga yoga class my teacher began to encourage us to come the mysore class at 6am. No fucking way. I am terrible at yoga.. I can’t practice in the same room with advanced students. They will laugh at me. You aren’t going to lead me through it. I only know like 8 poses and can’t even remember the order they go in.
I was wrong. Mysore is my favorite way to practice. You establish your practice. Your teachers know your practice and encourage and teach you. They know you and hold you accountable. They help you.
I love it.
I can’t do a yoga workshop.
For 3 years, I skipped every workshop at my shala. I was afraid to practice with a visiting teacher. I actually considered it a nuisance that the shala was invaded. I was comfortable with my teachers. My practice wasn’t good enough.
I did not know Taylor. I had purchased his book, A Way from Darkness, at Balance right before I left for St John. I spent my mornings reading and highlighting passages his book that resonated with my experience with addiction. See I entered recovery in 2013 for substance abuse, but I continued to drink, a lot. At this point I was 60 days into 120 days of “not drinking.”
Then one day as I was walking down the beach, I said “fuck it” and entered the Trini foundation challenge.
I “won” a Taylor Hunt workshop. Fuck now I had to go to a workshop. It all seemed so serendipitous, and top of that there is no way I was going to start back drinking before I met Taylor Hunt.
I did my first yoga workshop that October.
I can’t do an Ashtanga yoga intensive
For three years I was stuck at half primary. I was always injured. After four months of not drinking my body started to heal enough for me to begin making progress. By the workshop in October, I have finally built enough strength to practice all the postures in first series.
I still can’t bind by myself in marichyasana c or marichyasana d. I can’t bind at all in supta kurmasana. Drop backs, not a chance, maybe a good (almost) straight arm backbend if I’m lucky.
I need a week off from work. What the hell am I thinking? I should go back to St John like last year.
I decide to go. What am I doing going to a week long Ashtanga yoga intensive in Columbus Ohio?
We can do Ashtanga yoga.
Taylor Hunt’s week long Ashtanga yoga intensive was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. In may ways simply getting there seemed like part of the practice itself. I met some of the most amazing, kind, loving and hard-working people I’ve ever encountered. Taylor somehow knew how to guide each of us to our personal edge. It was physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. Day in and day out the focus and energy of the group carried us. We bonded over commitment to our practice and our unique paths that led us to this moment.
Ashtanga requires nothing more than to show up and practice. We showed up. We practiced. We did it together. We can do Ashtanga.