When discussing the “obsessive Ashtangi,” it’s also important to acknowledge the unspoken systemic values of the Mysore-style Ashtanga system or else we risk merely blaming the victim. To not unearth these values is to remain blind to their risks.
Chief among those values is that more poses is better, and more advanced series or poses are even better.
There are a host of ways this is transmitted as a value to students, such as postures ‘given’ by ‘towering’ authority figure in a public group setting, as well as the general tones of respect, admiration and awe used for those practicing complicated postures.
Beginners to the Ashtanga Mysore system also have no conception of the years of practice put in by those around them, and it is therefore very easy to assume that the floating and bending is what Ashtanga is supposed to look like.
Underneath these assumptions also lies the unspoken promise of our lives and yoga practice as a project that can be ‘completed’ or ‘finished.’
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 email@example.com.