Ashtangi Guilt

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

I was looking through my notes on my phone today and found an entry from 13th July 2019 - the same day these photos were taken. I'm not sure if I wrote it with the intention of posting on Instagram and then chickened out, or if I was just writing it to get my thoughts and feelings down. Either way, it was so interesting for me to read - and to reflect on how much has changed since then, but also how very much the same everything is.

It felt like a pivotal point in my yoga and teaching practice where I acknowledged the guilt I felt around daily practice and started to let go (but for real this time) of my physical practice. I was always sure that I wasn’t attached to the physical practice because I didn’t practise every day and I didn't plan my life around it, but the mass amount of guilt I felt surrounding this clearly suggested otherwise.

13th July 2019

I don’t practise yoga every day. I don’t practise the 6 days a week that ashtangis are supposed to. If I’m being honest, I probably only average 3 times a week at the moment. 
There are all sorts of guilt, inadequacy and conflict I have felt about this for a long time, but more so in the last year since I’ve been teaching. 
I would say I haven’t had time to do a daily practice but I know everyone can make time to do things if they really want to. And for a long time I did make the time. But over the last year or so, I mustn’t have wanted to make the time. I’ve wanted to rest. I’ve wanted to run. I’ve wanted to spend time with friends and family. I've wanted to cook. I’ve wanted to go away without having to work out possible practice times and places. Most of all I’ve just wanted to be free to make up my own mind and not chained to a daily routine.
I was in denial about this for a very long time and used to beat myself up for not practising, feel like a terrible ashtanga teacher and actually cause myself a lot of stress. Ironically, my yoga practice was causing me more stress than most other parts of my life. 
Since accepting that I don’t practise every day, a weight has been lifted. I have got my mojo back for the practice. Some weeks I do practise 6 days. Some weeks I don’t and I don’t really care anymore.
My ashtanga practice hasn’t really suffered from my point of view. Actually now when I practise I am up for it and more focused and my body isn’t in agony or exhausted from over-practising. It feels right.
I am enjoying my yoga practice more, but what I’m enjoying most is having time and energy to enjoy other parts of life.
I love being outside in nature and some days a run through the park is exactly what my body and mind need. Other days my soul is screaming for the sea and lots of the time I just want to rest. 
I probably teach lots of people who practise more often than me. 
Yes, I know that a daily practice doesn’t have to be physical, and there are many other limbs to practise. And I like to think I practise many of the limbs most days.
There is more to life than ashtanga.
I still consider myself an ashtangi and I still love ashtanga. But I don’t want to have to practise it ‘every damn day’.

Today I practised in the same space, in the same yoga pants, but it's no longer my bedroom - it is now my 'Zoom yoga studio'. This weekend I'll be teaching a surf and yoga workshop at the same surf school - but we'll have to follow social distancing rules, and there definitely won't be any partner poses. I'm teaching the same number of classes as I was this time last year, but now they're all online in my flat. And last year I was doing it with a full time job on top (hence the references to being tired and just wanting some freedom in my life!)

I'm practising much more regularly than this time last year (perhaps even as much as a 'real' ashtangi...), but I no longer practise full second series. And I still have daily inner conflicts about when to practise, how much to do, and whether I'm being lazy or being kind to myself when I skip a practice. And I'm still trying to let go of the guilt that sometimes surfaces when I don't practise.

But I'm still here, still practising, and still grateful for my ashtanga practice as a constant source of awareness and reflection in my life, no matter how often I get on my mat.

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