Check out Jayne’s progress with her practice, with her “before” photo here and “after” photo at the bottom of the interview:
What attracted you to try ashtanga yoga? My husband bought me some Ashtanga yoga private sessions – I’d never heard of this form of yoga before then! What I liked straight away was the logical structure of the sequence, which makes it easy to repeat even when you can’t get to a class.
When did you first start and how regularly do you practice? I have loved practising yoga since 2000 and was introduced to Ashtanga in 2011. I love the Mysore practice as I can work at my own pace at the speed of my own breath and it allows me an ability to be introspective whilst also enjoying the energy of those practising around me in the room.
What were you expecting from it? I had no expectations whatsoever, which make the results I have attained from the practice all the more exciting!
What were the actual benefits?
Physical: flexibility and core strength, balance (on and off the mat)
Mental: I’m calmer, more courageous and independent.
When you started what were the challenges and how did you begin to overcome them? Although I was much younger when I started yoga, I was stiff and had no core strength, and I was quite fearful about hurting myself. I also lacked focus – Cathy would often remind me gently to bring my focus back what I was doing on my mat rather than on what was happening on the High Street! The fact that the practice follows the same series of postures each session means that you are able to quickly see glimmers of increased flexibility and strength that come with commitment to practice. The wonderful adjustments that come during the practice act as cues to the body as to which tissues can open up and which need to work in each posture, having such individual attention means that along with the release of tension comes a release of other emotions and tensions which are often stored in the body.
What do you specifically love about BAYoga studio? Sensitive adjustments and support of personal practice by Cathy, Caroline and Debbie. There are also relevant workshops available which complement my ashtanga yoga practice. I love that classes are year round and not just term time, and it’s all right in the centre of Berkhamsted.
What encouragement/advice would you give to a newbie to yoga?
Don’t compare yourself to others in the class- what one person can find straightforward, others can find challenging!
Don’t feel self conscious, everyone else is pleased that you are there practising and are far too busy themselves to notice what you are doing.
Enjoy the group energy but stay focused on your own breath.
Don’t worry if you forget the sequence, it will come with practice and the help of your teacher- everyone else in the room started the same way.
Be consistent in your practice and try to combine classes in the studio with home practice even if home practice is only a few sun salutations and savasana.
What do you think people get wrong about ashtanga yoga – what assumptions do people make that aren’t necessarily correct?
Myth 1: ‘Ashtanga is too serious’. Not true – so much laughter comes with this practice.
Myth 2: ‘Ashtanga is too competitive and dangerous’ – genuine Ashtanga practice has no room for ego and comparison with anyone other than your self. If you stick with your breath it is a safe, gentle and rewarding practice.
Myth 3: ‘You get more out of a led class.’ In actual fact the individual attention you receive from a Mysore style practice meets you on your mat each day with individual adjustments from your teacher to allow steady development at a pace that is right for your body.
Myth 4: ‘Its boring to do the same thing over and over again’- The Ashtanga sequence has been created as a logical flow to open each body system and muscle to ease the way into the next asana or posture. Following this system 6 days a week allows you to treat the practice as a meditation, your body and mind know what to expect and you can settle into whatever you meet on the mat each day. Following a sequence means that you are able to take responsibility for your own practice, it becomes second nature and easy to incorporate in your life even when working away or on holiday.
How does your practice help you in every day life? I’m far more patient and compassionate with others and myself; I’m much less in a rush than when I started. I love the feeling of lightness and energy that the practice gives me and the fact that my body enjoys back-bending and headstands which I didn’t even contemplate as a child! It’s not about having a perfect practice its about exploring the possibilities of my body and mind at each moment, maintaining a sense of humour and reminding myself of how much can be gained by connecting with the breath.
Inspired to give Berkhamsted yoga a try? Join us at the studio and book your taster class for just £5.