Article by Shanna Small of Wellness From Inside and Ashtanga Picture Project
I always tell my students to listen to their bodies and adjust their practices accordingly and I pride myself on practicing what I preach,but lately, my body has been straight up bi polar. I never know when my 30 something self is going to show up or when Grandma is going to take over. One day I can put my legs behind my head, sit in full lotus and do handstand. The next day, I fall out of every arm balance and can barely touch my toes. One day I feel like I could audition for the circus and the next day I feel like I am ready for the nursing home. I know yoga is not about Asana but I am not ready to give in to my geriatric body and let go of my more athletic practice.
One of my yoga teacher buddies, Nadine, told me it was old age. I am not that old, but man, maybe she has a point. Until a few years ago, I could demo any pose cold. I could jump out of bed and do backbends and forward folds. I practiced two days ago, and after an hour and a half, I still could barely touch my toes.
For ashtanga practitioners, early morning practices are traditional. Honestly, I am almost at the point of outlawing anything earlier then 10AM for my body. The only thing my body can tolerate before 10AM is hot Vinyasa. The heat takes a few years off and besides, it is all standing poses so It really doesn’t require me to go that deep into my flexibility which grandma really likes. No exaggeration. I sit in front of my TV, at night, with no warm up, and do stretches where I am way more flexible then I am after an hour of practice in the morning.
Many Ashtanga practitioners aspire to go to Mysore India to practice at the source, but I am terrified of an early morning practice. I would be devastated to travel that far to only have the 80 year old grandma show up every morning. I can stay in Charlotte and do sun salutes. I don’t need to go to India to have Sharath stop me at Sun B.
I notice the 80 year old grandma tends to show up when:
- I drink alcohol
- I eat too much sugar
- I practice early in the morning
- In Non heated rooms
- Around my period
So I try to control these variables but geez, I want to live a little. Is anyone else dealing with the 80 year old grandma? Any words of wisdom?
Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.