Monday, December 14, 2009

Congrats to Our Ashtanga Graduates

Sunday saw the graduation of the latest class of Quad Cities Ashtangis from our Intro to Ashtanga Yoga course. In six weeks we've learned approximately the first 40 minutes of the Primary Series. Speaking quantitatively, that's about half (the full Primary Series usually takes between 75 and 90 minutes to complete).

In truth, however, our newly minted Ashtangis are well over the halfway point, as we've thoroughly explored the repetitive elements, the fundamentals, of Ashtanga practice: how to breathe, how to link movement with breath, how to address difficulties, when/where/why/how to practice, jumping techniques, and much more. With these fundamentals in place, continuing to learn the next pose, and the next pose, and the next pose is not as daunting as it might once have been. We'd like to think that by the end of six weeks of regular practice, the paradox is readily apparent: however much of the sequence you are doing with full intention, it is a complete practice; and yet, it can also be added to. To paraphrase a favorite Upanishad: whether adding to or drawing from Fullness, Fullness remains, like carrying water to or from the river.

These Intro courses hold a special place for us, as this practice is so dear to us and we are so excited to introduce it to others and welcome them to the community, one jumpback at a time. As usual at the end of , it was a combination of blood, sweat, and tears as we said…"See you next week."
Usually, a graduation ends with a goodbye, but that is not the case—nor the intention—for this course. The idea of the
Intro course is not to master the curriculum over the course of six weeks, but to get your bearings within a remarkable system of practice. There isn't any end and, usually by the end of the six weeks students realize that they don't WANT there to be an end. Like a martial arts form, each week we learn a little more. In this way the practice expands "horizontally." But the real joy in the increased depth, the "vertical" growth. Our Intro students have been coming to one Mysore (guided self-practice) class each week throughout this course, in addition to practicing at home.
This is the ideal practice format, and at the end of the course it is already in place. Intro students continue to come to Mysore class and gradually learn the next posture, and the next posture, and the next…

Our next Intro course will begin January 2nd. This will be the last Intro to Ashtanga session until late spring (late April or early May), so if you've been thinking about it, now is the time. This session will meet on Saturdays, 10-11a instead of Sundays. We're hoping this gives some folks with full Sunday schedules a chance to come.