My Comment to Jason Stein’s The Indifferent Ashtangi
I shared the link to Jason Stein’s well-written blog post, The Indifferent Ashtangi. I thought I would also share the comment I left.
I am so glad to see Jason’s insights being shared with the greater Ashtanga community. They are too astute to be buried amongst the comments of my blog.
I couldn’t agree more that students need to be taught that practice is not just about asanas, adjustments and the myths of progress and completion. Students cannot be blamed if they get caught up in the physical dynamism of Ashtanga yoga and wrongly confuse the ends with the means. This is particularly true if instructors are not sharing the deeper elements of the practice.
Ultimately, the onus is on teachers to take the time and instill proper values in students. It is more work and more tedious than simply walking the room and giving adjustments.
There are many reasons why a teacher might over-emphasize the asanas – to be popular, to run a successful business, to pad their egos by having “advanced” students or just because they don’t have the depth of understanding themselves.
I differ with you on one point. I have observed the honeymoon or romance phase of practice to occur before the obsessive phase. When students are first leaning and they are being given new asanas regularly, they are quite content to go with the flow and just enjoy the positive experience of getting in touch with their bodies, focussing their minds, etc.
It is the experience of negative sensations – pain, frustration, judgement, fatigue – that first challenges students. It is the first time they have to ask why they are practicing. It is at this moment that students leave the honeymoon/romance phase of practice. Once the initial shine of practice is gone, once they realize that the asanas, in and of themselves, are not an express train to samadhi, the student may start obsessing in the ways I described.
I look forward to more posts from you. I value your opinions and think they are a much needed service to the community.