'Why' by Ryan
I was introduced to Ashtanga yoga about a year ago. I had previously practiced mostly Bikram yoga and Baptiste Power Vinyasa before I attended my first Mysore class. I was initially intimidated and afraid to try Mysore since it's not led with dialogue from an instructor. I was nervous that I wouldn't remember what to do and I'd just sit on my mat staring blankly, or I'd be a bother to the teacher who'd have to remind me what to do next. I don't like to step out of my comfort zone, so it took a lot of research and encouragement to give Ashtanga yoga a shot, and I'm so grateful that I started on this journey.
There’s really no simple way to explain what draws me to this practice. I know how it makes me feel, physically and mentally, but there's much more to it. During my first Chai & Chat, Taylor spoke about finding your 'why'. Since then I've been trying to gain a better understanding of my 'why'. This is my attempt at an explanation.
I’m a person who craves routine, sometimes to a point where I'm too guarded. My practice is part of my routine, but it pushes my boundaries, and helps me discover more about my myself. Each day I am able to realize my potential through practicing asana. With the repetition of the series I'm able to experience my breath, body, and mind, all in unison. The physical practice uncovers where I hold tension, and how I may default to poor posture. It corrects years of imbalance and overuse that caused stress on my body. Through awareness it helps to guide me in the direction to correct those patterns. The repetition also helps calm the chaos of my overactive mind and brings clarity. I gain insight to what it feels like to be in the moment, which ultimately leads to a better understanding of who I am.
I have a tendency to stress over frivolous thoughts, but my practice helps me realize when I'm striving for an abstract idea of perfection. It brings to light what is truly important. It's my time away from the constant stimulation of everyday life. The silence allows me to cope with my feelings. It breaks up my thought patterns and allows me to be in the present moment. It helps to reveal what is important and encourages me to let go of what isn’t. It's liberating to express my emotions rather than holding them in. The silence uncovers habits, moods, and thoughts. It brings perspective and balance to my life. The reflection that happens allows me to be more confident and conscious.
I was a very shy child, and I've always been introverted. I'm not usually comfortable in group settings, but I feel at home at AYC. There's something genuinely special about AYC that is hard to describe. There's a beauty to the collection of humans all practicing together, during their own unique explorations, but as a devoted community. It's a powerful space to be in. It's a space where I feel a connection, and that draws me back every day. It's really grounding to embrace that connection and feel at peace in a room with no judgement. During my practice there is no need to prove myself, it is what it is. It brings a feeling of contentment when I can let go of any pressures, embrace the unknown, and surrender to my practice.
Within the last few years I’ve lost a few loved ones, while others have been diagnosed with illnesses. It’s been a reminder to me how futile our existence is, and how important it is to treasure life and live in the moment. I’m thankful I found Ashtanga yoga as it has been a refuge for me. I know I have so much more to learn, but through all of this I understand that yoga doesn’t change me, rather it makes me a better version of myself. We all go thorough struggles and successes on our own journeys. If you haven't tried Ashtanga yoga, I encourage you to give it a shot. It just might help you gain clarity and bring more awareness to your life as well.