Ashtanga

Ashtanga

Deborah KayBy Deborah KayJune 25, 20226 Minutes

My Ashtanga Journey

My journey with Ashtanga began a long time ago but has been sporadic at best. It was only after the pandemic that I was able to establish a regular practice.

My first experience with Ashtanga began in London in 2001, when I was living in Chalcot Crescent in Primrose Hill. Round the corner was a yoga studio called Triyoga and it was there that I tried my first Ashtanga class. Having danced all through JC and University, I was drawn to the fluidity of the vinyasas which felt like a form of dance.

I started practicing regularly during my MBA days at Wharton between 2003-2005 doing led primary classes at a small yoga shala on Walnut Street in Philadelphia.

When I moved back to London in 2006-7, I started doing lunchtime half primary led classes with Iiling Loo three times a week, then started doing mysore at Astanga Yoga London with Hamish Hendry.

In 2010, I spent two weeks at Yoga Plus in Crete with Radha & Pierre and before I moved back to Singapore in 2012, I did my RYT 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training with Michel Besnard in Koh Samui.

Back in Singapore, I practiced with Celeste for a few months while living in Tiong Bahru, but the long hours and frequent travel at Bain made it hard for me to maintain a regular practice.

I restarted my Ashtanga practice in 2019, taking a few mysore classes using Classpass credits at Align Yoga with Marta, then got serious and started practicing 3-4 times a week with James at the Yoga Shala through 2019-2020. However, when the COVID restrictions hit and we went into lockdown in April 2020, I switched doing Mysore via Zoom with Denise Chew.

Over the last four years, I have maintained a consistent practice (three times a week). Not having to commute to an office, being able to schedule my own work time and no business travel has definitely helped me keep up a regular practice.

Currently, I am practicing the Intermediate series up to Supta Vajrasana.

Why I Like Ashtanga

  1. The slow, steady ujjayi breathing always puts me in a state of calm. I find the practice very grounding
  2. The fixed sequence of the Mysore practice lets me go into auto-pilot mode, allowing me to clear my thoughts and focus on the breath. It is the closest I come to experiencing a state of “flow”
  3. The stretching a nice counter balance to the weightlifting
  4. There is progression – once you have mastered one pose, there is a harder one for you to work on
  5. It pushes me outside my comfort zone. Even today, after doing it hundreds of times, I get scared doing certain poses like dropbacks and I like that Ashtanga forces myself to face my fears and to trust my body
  6. The practice is very detoxing – While my heart rate does not get elevated (seldom goes above 100bpm), the heat generated from the ujjayi breathing and the asanas causes me to sweat profusely which I find very detoxing. I can lose up to 1kg in sweat each session
  7. Once you know the sequence, you’re not dependant on a class or a teacher and can practice anytime, anywhere

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