Stacy is my wife of 26 years. For ~20 of these, she has been practicing Ashtanga. Eventually, she began teaching and even started her own program. Originally out of our house but then into a dedicated space in Raleigh where she is now.
Stacy has always been willing to help me and offer instruction at any level I may be willing to try. A few times I took up a self practice. But it never stuck. I have always played team sports and these have been my only source of regular exercise (Stacy says softball does not count as exercise and I must admit, she is probably right). For many years I played basketball a couple of times a week, but in my late 40s, I decided to stop before a knee injury ended basketball for me. After this, I struggled to find a way to regularly exercise.
All of this time, Stacy has been there for me. Not pressing me to start a practice, but always willing to share advice and support, when I asked.
This year, I turned 50. Not a traumatic event for me, but did make me reconsider my (lack of) exercise habits. Finally, in August of this year, I decided the only way I would truly practice Ashtanga was to commit to Stacy that I would come to mysore three mornings per week. This could fit in my schedule (6am is not too early to get moving and I am able to get to work nice and early). Three days a week did not seem crazy. Maybe most importantly, I also figured, her expecting me to show up for mysore on specific days would be sufficient level of personal guilt to get me to the studio each morning. She would never say anything to me, but I would know she noticed I was not there.
So, I committed to myself and to Stacy that I would be there. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings for the rest of August through the end of September.
Here we are at the end of September and I fully met my commitment. I am very proud of this, but just knowing Stacy was expecting me was the extra motivation I needed to make this happen.
So, now what? It’s the first week in October and I am still practicing 3 days a week. Currently, I am even with Stacy for a 4 day workshop she and Michelle Dorer are running - “Ashtoberfest” in the OBX. I am only attending the daily mysore - but 4 days in a row! And I can fish the rest of the day.
How about my practice? I have come a long way. I have become much stronger, especially in my core and shoulders. My practice is still fairly short (all of standing, but only a few of the seated poses). But I feel stronger. No longer are my legs like jelly at the end of practice. It feels good. I must admit I went into Mysore practice with some trepidation. But I have found the personalized pace very rewarding. Building your strength while learning the practice matched to your own abilities makes for a sustainable way to build a practice. Just as Stacy had assured me it would be.
Nothing has triggered in me (yet). I don’t talk about looking forward to “getting on my mat” and I still despise backbending and shoulder stands. From what I hear from Stacy and the other yogis, I think this is supposed to come. But maybe it never will for me and I am okay with that. I do love that I get so many benefits from starting regular practice. Not only do I get exercise and to build strength and flexibility, but I can share in something that has been so important to Stacy and get the opportunity to experience her teaching for myself.