11 September 2011

Is Ashtanga yoga addictive?


I am rereading Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K Patthabi Jois and have come across an item written by Ashtanga teacher John Scott in which he was asked:

Do you think ashtanga yoga attracts a particular kind of person?

"I think it definitely attracts people who have an obsessive nature or an addictive nature I think the practice itself can be addictive, which is so clever. So anyone who has had a drug habit, for example, is perfect because you can swap one addiction for the yoga practice addiction. Now when you start working with the addiction of yoga, the not doing the yoga is a yoga in itself".

John goes on to say that for 5 years he practised every day and didn't want to miss a day. He says he was addicted and scared to "not do it for fear of letting it go". He also goes onto say how he feels Patthabi Jois understood this and put in full and dark moon days/rest days to give us an opportunity not to practice, "so people with obsessive natures are also challenged within the practice, to let go of the practice".

I found this a fascinating insight into to how the series is made up in a way to address some of the above issues. Of course, in the great scheme of things, having an addiction to yoga, is better than having an addiction to heroin or the likes; but addiction to anything holds us back.

By having a regular mindful yoga practice and adhering as best as you can to the roots of the practice, you can embrace the changes that your yoga will bring and break down patterns that no longer work for you. This of course takes time and is what yoga is about. There is no fast track or quick fix with yoga, which is why having a teacher who has practised themselves for many years is very important to me. Staying close to the Ashtanga linage enables me to see the changes in my life and in the way I practice yoga.

Thank you to John Scott for sharing how it was for him in the early days. This resonated with me.

Gurui: A portrait of Sri K Pattabhi Jois
John Scott full item page 356

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