I’m writing to warn you. At some point, you will begin to find Ashtanga (and by “Ashtanga”, I mean the Mysore style of it, practiced with a teacher’s guidance) “annoying”. You will begin to rebel against your teacher’s instructions. You will being to resent getting out of the house by 8:15 in the morning, when you could stay home and go back to sleep. This could happen in the summer when your kids are at camp. Or it could happen in the winter when your light-sensitivity kicks in and you start to go all morose and lethargic. I don’t know when it will happen, but I can assure you IT WILL HAPPEN.
And so you must resist. You will have many reasons not to resist. You will say that you can do the poses in the comfort of your own home, you will say that you don’t need to pay shala fees for poses you can do yourself. You will say that you resent having to pay to be taught poses you already know. You will say that you don’t like the paternalistic nature of it all. You may have a disagreement with your teacher. You may find your teacher to be disappointing in some way. You may find your teacher is just a human being like yourself, and that may come as a disappointment to you, Future Lauren.
But I’m here to tell you that all of those arguments are the disease, not the cure. If you think Ashtanga is your addiction, I will tell you without a doubt that your running from it is your true addiction. You have done it countless times. You have left one teacher for another. You have left the practice entirely. And what good has come from it? You have gained weight, you have gotten sloppy and unfocused, you have become lazy.
From where I sit, you are back on track. You have had a month of being back in the warm Ashtanga fold. Every ounce of weight that you gained from your countless surgeries last year is gone, and for the most part, it all fell off in the last month while you were practicing Ashtanga diligently with a teacher. You get up every morning with your kids and you get your day started. After you are done practicing, you still have so much of the day left that you don’t feel stressed. You get things done on your to-do list. You are organized. You managed to clean your own house last week when your housekeeper called in sick. And even though it was stressful, you managed to do it. Your garden has never looked better.
When you are feeling that urge to run from Ashtanga, remember how good you were feeling when this letter got written. Sure, you think your reasons are justified. Sure, you think that I just can’t see what you’re going through, Future Lauren. But it’s a mirage. It won’t lead to anything better than what you’ve got going on right now.
So, Future Lauren, whenever this letter finds you, I implore you to resist the urge to run. Stay with the program. It works, or as you told a newbie the other day, “It’s like magic, except it’s real.”