Wednesday, September 14, 2005

document: student correspondence

I've censored this a bit, but wanted to document and possibly get feedback on this little rant that emerged in an email correspondence with a gentleman who came to one of my recent classes.

>What do you think of Iyengar? How do you think it'd work with Vinyasa/Ashtanga? Any >conflicts? I might give his class a try.

I would highly recommend trying out any of *****'s classes. He has an incredible energy and is very amiable!

Personally, I'm a bit conflicted when asked about mixing Ashtanga with anything. The orthodox Ashtangi will practice nothing but the primary sequence six days a week. I've even heard of certain ashtangis who will limit any other non-yogic physical activity (even walking up stairs) so that it does not influence the chikitsa or therapeutic effects of the primary series. This is a bit too heavy handed for me, but I can understand their perspective. Though I'm a dedicated ashtangi I lean towards being a heathen as I stay far away from orthodoxy and dogma in any part of my life. Though I crawl to my mat every morning and work through the primary series I don't see Ashtanga as being more "true" than any other form.

Though I have not practiced Iyengar I have a great deal of respect for those who do. The discipline and patience required to "perfect" asana is a noble undertaking. That being said, based on my own psychological makeup at the moment, I think that I would obsess on finding the perfect seat of the asana and distract myself from the numerous benefits of the practice. For me, at this point in time, Ashatanga is the perfect cocktail of martial discipline (I came to yoga from an Aikido background) and moving (one breath one movement) meditation. I remain challenged and mentally disciplined while learning to flow through the series and open up mental and physical space.

My perception has led me to believe that the way presents itself to the walker and that movement and experience are prerequisites to following any path. Though many would disagree with me, I have yet to find a style of yoga that conflicts with any other style. I have approached numerous styles and have found value in them all. Through exploration of various yogic manifestations I have found life altering resonance with a few (ashtanga, jivamukti, and kundalini) and pursue them each as I'm able and as I'm inclined. One of the most empowering aspects of yoga for me was forging my own path through the many styles and teachers that I encountered. The realization that yoga was whatever I deemed it to be at any given moment was invaluable and still fills me with awe.

I recommend exploring all aspects of yoga that present themselves to you. Try out different teachers and studios and follow your own instincts and that resonance that I mention above.

********, let me close with a little disclaimer to the above. I didn't intend to respond to your simple inquiry with a diatribe on huge generalized concepts like "the path" and "life altering resonance." Apparently your question got me thinking and struck a vein that needed to bleed a bit! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share some of my thoughts!

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