When I think of an Ashtangi I picture my teacher; the dedicated and advanced students in my class or even Kino MacGregor. Me? I’m the Messy Ashtangi. But an Ashtangi nonetheless! My practice on the Mat has not been as consistent as I’d like it to be. I’ve been struggling with my sleep; working crazy hours. Then this time change… Oy!
A few months ago, I started feeling very emotional bursting into tears at home or in the car for no reason. I felt the need to release… Release of what? From what? I don’t know but these 10-second cries just weren’t cutting it. I felt as if I were battling myself and losing. But shouldn’t I also feel like I’m winning? What am I battling? I’m not even sure. I can tell you it feels painful and sometimes makes me feel crazy.
I believe this is tapas in action. That Phoenix-like burning death I’ve felt before. Tapas essentially means “to consume or destroy by heat.” In my Life, I find it’s akin to the way gold is refined by fire. When a metal is refined, its impurities are burned away and what’s left is precious metal. It reminds me of the Phoenix who dies a scalding burning death, only to rise much stronger.
In Traditional Ashtanga, the Primary Series is called Yoga Chikitsa or Yoga Therapy. The purpose of the Primary Series is to purify the body so that we may go deeper into the practice of Yoga. What I describe above feels like that burning purification. So, I kept reminding myself that “this too shall pass.” Soon enough, the Phoenix will rise as She always does.
And just when I felt as if the Phoenix was rising I came down with the flu! That was a tough week for me physically, mentally and emotionally. I released a lot: tears, emotions, dreams, communications, even a job! Yoga philosophy believes our emotions are stored in our bodies. So it came as no surprise that from the first forward fold of my first Practice back, I felt way more flexible than ever before. Though my practice is not consistent and I had not practiced for a week, that day I literally felt like Elastic Woman! My entire Practice showed the extra space I had to be more flexible after all of that releasing. Even my teacher noticed. And that reminds me:
“Body not stiff. Mind stiff.” ~Guruji
Now to work on my Practice ON the Mat! And the rising Phoenix…