Inspirare, Espirare

As my obsession with yoga continues to grow, I am always looking to try new branches of yoga and expand my horizons.

Dancer Pose in the ruins
Dancer Pose in the ruins

After practicing for five years, I tend to encounter more mental challenges in yoga than physical ones.

That’s why branches of yoga that I don’t particularly like, are my favorite classes to take.

Yoga has been receiving more attention recently, thanks to the fearless Bold & Naked Yoga in New York City that encourages students to leave inhibitions and insecurities at the door, with their clothes.

I think I would have to check with the roomies before branching out to this, so for now I am exploring ashtanga yoga.

A few days ago I took my first class at a studio, Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, conveniently located near the Colosseum.

I don’t have much experience with Ashtanga, or Italian, so why not combine the two together?

Even though I wasn’t sure what the instructor was saying for the first five minutes of meditation, I was able to fill the dialogue for myself, making the practice more personalized.

Eventually, I began figuring some words out. She kept repeating “Inspirare, espirare” which I soon realized was cues for the breath, “inhale, exhale.”

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 1.11.14 AMThe beautiful thing about an Ashtanga practice is that it is always the same. The sequence never changes, but your body does. This practice naturally shows one’s progression.

Throughout the class, I became more comfortable trusting my instincts and little memory of Ashtanga, rather than relying on cues. Om symbols were displayed throughout the room, matching the tattoo between my shoulders, which made me feel like I might be in the right place.

I am accustomed to practicing vinyasa flow yoga, which threads different poses together fluidly and is often faster paced. In Ashtanga, one holds each pose for five breaths. Like Italy, Ashtanga makes me slow down and appreciate each pose for what it is, rather than thinking of it as a transition to the next.

Everything about this semester is a work in progress, so it seems quite fitting. Hopefully by the end of the semester I will know the Ashtanga sequence well, understand the Italian cues, and most importantly, enjoy it.

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