Alignment and Injuries,  Ashtanga Adaptability,  Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

The Reo Speedwagon of Ashtanga Practices

This may be the cheesiest post on Ashtanga that you will ever read. I swear to God the last few weeks of my practice have had me saying,

Oh I can’t fight this feeling any longer
And yet I’m still afraid to let it flow
What started out as friendship,
Has grown stronger
I only wish I had the strength to let it show

Reo Speedwagon,Can’t Fight This Feeling


I have no clue what it is but there definitely has been some energetic shifting and it is scary as sh%$. Hell, I even bought some Mala beads this week because I was like, woah Nelly, lets balance this ish out!!  I am reminded of a quote by spiritual teacher Adyashanti.


“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It
has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the
crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing
through the facade of pretense. It’s the
complete eradication of everything we
imagined to be true.”


Not that I am enlightened or anything or going through that or anything. Geez. The point of this post (I bet you were starting to think there really wasn’t one) is that letting go is freaking scary. The last few weeks have asked me to let go and to do it quickly.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

The quote above is actually my e-mail signature. I need the reminder. As I practiced today, I found a sweetness in the sequence but I fought the feeling. Like, it can’t be this easy. Right? I am not saying that all the poses felt like a walk in the park. Far from it. I was just able to keep my cool about it all. Well, until I came up against my nemesis, which is essentially any pose that requires me to do full lotus while doing something else insane at the same time, for example, Supta Vajrasana or Karandavasana, the sweetness dissipates and the struggle wants to enter. I was able to stay cool in Laghuvajrasana and Kapotasana (I know, craziness) but when I came to the place where my samskaras are the strongest, it was like, let the games begin.



Why are my are my mental ruts (samskaras) so big and crazy negative here? Well, back when Abraham Lincoln was president, I injured them. Yep, that far back but the story still runs thick through my blood.

This is why I love this practice. Even as I am vibrating and feeling this shift, the practice says, nope, you still got ish to deal with. It showed me that I am still not rooted in the present. Being rooted in the present doesn’t mean that my body won’t tighten up at the thought of doing lotus while doing some crazy drop back thing, but I am hoping that it will mean that I can maintain my cool…maybe.



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

One Comment

  • Margaret31

    Love this! Had the very same feeling and resistance now on anything which entails carrying weight on my shoulders. My miserable attempts to jump into bakhasana, I don’t even jump as my feet seems stick on glue, are justified by injuring my shoulders back in the day on my first chaturangas attempts and imaginary pain.
    oh samskaras! How much we like to sleep with the enemy?

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