First, thank you Aurore for allowing us to share your inspiring work! In these essays she explains what Ashtanga is from her personal experience and how the practice (and the teacher training) have helped her grow.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a practice that can help one link one’s body and one’s mind, bound oneself and the other people, oneself and the surrounding world.
It is most of all a practice that could do wonders to heal the body and the mind: Through moving the body and learning how to breathe, you can gain strength, flexibility and balance - which will help you be fitter and stronger in your everyday life. After some time of practice, it also can help with healing
some pains, some “emotional issues” you have. To me, Ashtanga yoga helps one to live a kinder life and to be more aware of one’s body, one’s soul and the surrounding world.
It is also an open-eyed meditation and a philosophy of life (i.e. a way of living). Indeed, through the theory, we learn more about the meaning of Ashtanga: the 8 limbs of yoga. These 8 limbs are also some ethical rules to live in a more moral manner. The principles of non-harming (ahimsa), integrity (satya), non-stealing (asteya), control of the sexual instinct (brahmacharya) and avoiding greed (aparigraha) are disciplines we have to work towards to tend to be morally better people.
Learning Ashtanga yoga is a process to try and heal your body and your mind through practice and patience (Abhyasa and Vairagya) and a way to connect with your breath and with your inner self. While learning this, one should be eager to practice to get better in what one is doing, without being attached to a specific destination or goal. This is the greatest thing ever.
To me this discipline taught me how to be consistent, to develop endurance and willpower as well as to practice without expecting anything. I understood thanks to the concept of Vairagya that I should not be waiting for extraordinary end-results. I should not be waiting for anything. I should only enjoy the process of practicing with my body and spirit. The practice of Ashtanga is then also a way to let go of the ego and to fully be present.
The Ashtanga practice is not only a sequence of several poses that you have to master to heal your body and your mind, but it is also a step by step process that teaches one patience and determination. Why? Because before going further in the practice you have to master the first poses, i.e. the core basis. It is also similar for the more advanced levels: before being able to practice the
second series, you have to master the first one. This step-by-step process teaches humility, patience and gives you the drive to learn.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is also a way to connect with your surroundings while trusting your inner feelings, your guts, your intuition. As it is a way to connect with your inner self, it may help one learn how to acknowledge one's deepest feelings, observe one's fears and overcome them to see the world differently from what society wants us to see. And, by the way, thanks to Ashtanga yoga a shift of perspective did occur to me: I strive to listen more to my inner feelings rather than to society.
While re-reading my self-inspection notes, I dwelt on my personal intentions for this training. When it came to the notion of practice, I wanted to commit myself to practice at least 4 times a week while taking the time to meditate. This I did, during the last four months, I was practicing around 5 to 6 times a week. Right now, I’m practicing a little bit less but that is only because I am trying to reassess my schedule as a lot of changes occurred in my personal life. Starting, Monday, 12th I will go back to practicing 4 times a week at the studio.
Well, thanks to this practice I gained in flexibility, strength and balance. I also have a calmer practice:my breath is quieter now than before.
Even if I’m not good at meditating, I noticed a change in my attention span and ability to focus when I manage to calm my mind, close my eyes and breathe for some time. I’m working towards being able to meditate fully.
I also managed to better understand and apply the concept of detachment with action. Thanks to learning how to practice while being detached, I also learnt how to let things / people / relationships go. Now I try not to get stuck in a "this is the end of the world" mindset. When my boyfriend and I broke up last November, I was sad, but I managed to put things into perspective, to remain calm, kind and loving. Even if we are again back together now, this event showed me that I was able to react to bad news without drama (ok this might depend on the events and the kind of losses that are happening, but anyway, this can be a good start).
In my practice, I keep on being committed and striving to get further in the practice. But I am also more patient. I stick indeed to a discipline without being attached to a particular goal. It gave me a discipline and set somehow a routine into my life. This routine help me to feel more grounded.
This practice and the patience I acquired also taught me how to move with ease, how try an asana without violence or pushing my body. I also learnt how to be kinder to my body and soul. I try to have more forgiving and accepting words towards myself, my abilities and my body. Now, when I’m getting too obsessed with my need of being active or eating healthy, I take notice, I observe my behaviour and mindset … and I sense that I have to calm down.