Why I Quit Ashtanga Yoga

By on Nov 21, 2014 in The Unruly Ascetic

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I quit Ashtanga for so many reasons.

It’s really hard. It’s inconvenient and makes me socially awkward. It causes me to suffer and experience failure perpetually.

Ashtanga is so hard. I mean, physically. Hard.
I’ve gotten reasonably good at the basics of it and it’s still hard. It never really gets easier, I just keep upping my expectations (or my teachers keep upping their expectations).
It’s exhausting.
Kapotasana was so hard the other day that I quit. I thought about Dwi Pada and Nakrasana and the utter ridiculousness of tic tocs and it all seemed silly. So I quit.

I quit Ashtanga because the only real good time to practice is first thing in the morning.
If I put it off I will be lazier or busy (time busy and mind busy) and distracted, I won’t have other people to inspire and encourage me, and it wont even be as affective. If I don’t do it consistently then it isn’t as useful as a gauge of physical, mental, or emotional progress.
and that’s just annoying.
I don’t want to get up early, or pass on drinks with friends, or eat light, simple food that keeps my body capable of the practice. I’d rather be normal and get to sleep until breakfast and go out dancing after dinner without a second thought.
But I can’t when I practice. So I quit.

I live in a perpetual state of vague, intangible suffering.
I started practice in a subconscious attempt to relieve some of this suffering. I went through periods where I continued with practice (or even relished it) because my suffering became more tangible and bearable.
I quit because the practice creates its own suffering.
Physical suffering from pain in the body. Emotional suffering from my mind’s striving and my ego’s comparing nature (and the fact that I will always have something I can NOT do). Deep rooted mental suffering around my role as a student and my desire to be genuine and truly surrender to my teacher.
Without practice my vague suffering becomes intangible again because the acute suffering of the practice is no longer there to clarify it. So I quit.

…but the suffering doesn’t go away.

Just because I look away from it and distract myself with late sleep and frivolous friendships and food or booze, the suffering is still there. It’s still there building and getting more and more confusing.
or I am pretty sure it would, if I quit for long.
Because I quit for a few breaths. for a few beats of my heart. for a single round of the snooze button.
and then I take it up again.
I quit this morning mid practice. I quit yesterday just thinking about the work I’d have to do this morning. I quit in the middle of a 12 hour catering shift required to support my next trip to mysore.

but then I took it back up again.