Last week I participated in a week-long event at my shala called Iron Ashtangi.
“20 students, 2 teachers, one chance to get IRON.”
Yeah, it’s no joke. So Monday-Friday we had Mysore style practice, which is the Ashtanga style of self-practice. Saturday we have a culminating Full Vinyasa Led Primary and potluck. So Mysore, if you are unfamiliar here’s the scoop. Everyone shows up to their mat and completes their own practice at their own speed and time while the teacher assists individual students. During Iron Ashtangi week we start by arriving around the same time, Evan Harris one of the lead teachers would spend the first few moments doing Q&A or talking about a concept or idea. One of the repeated topics was the community of yoga, especially in relation to our particular Tapas Yoga Shala community. One of the things I love most about yoga is the community, I even wrote about my own community in a post a few months ago which you can read here.
After our chat session we do the opening chant together and then all start our own practice. In my last post I talked about how my physical practice has been slow as of late due to a back injury. The good news is with the help of my chiropractor and taking it slow I am feeling much better. Monday and Tuesday I was able to complete a 1/2 Primary & 1/2 Intermediate practice. By Wednesday I was doing Intermediate only and catching my heels in Kapotasana with the assistance of my teacher Kelly Harris. The road back to my “normal” physical self is slow, but it’s improving. So needless to say I was pretty wrecked by Thursday. I feel like I don’t really recall my practice Friday, but I know I finished, in final rest I fell asleep for a few minutes even.
Friday evening we gathered at a local Brew Pub just down the alley from the Shala, Blue Cat for a celebratory ale and some much-deserved nourishment. My favorite thing to order there is the Mediterranean Melange which is a plate of fresh mozzarella, artichokes, black and Kalamata olives, cucumber and their yummy hummus with fresh pita bread. IT IS SO GOOD! My favorite beer is the Big Bad Dog Old English Ale. I find that spending time with my yoga community is some of my favorite time.
It’s interesting how during our normal weeks we don’t get the chance to talk much, especially because people come and go at different times, but during Iron Ashtangi week things change a bit. We all arrive, chat, chant, practice, sweat, and chat some more before we leave. I credit our teachers a lot for creating such a friendly and open environment people feel comfortable being in and being themselves. I don’t think anyone fakes anything at our shala, we are just all there to practice as we are, no judgement, just friendship and support.
Saturday was the final event of the week. We all gathered at the Shala, Iron Ashtangi participants and anyone else that wanted to come for a fun Pack the Place Led class. Usually our Led classes are on Sunday, but this time it was special. We got to do full vinyasa for each posture during Primary, that’s a lot of extra vinyasas…but it does keep you warm! After practice we all hung out for a potluck and enjoyed some really delicious food and conversation. I found this whole experience very fullfilling. I was unable to participate the last 2 years because of injuries. The first year I had slammed my right thumb in my car door days before and last year was just after my blood clot. So this year I was determined to partake in the IRON events. And I’m so glad I did. Not just because physically it was challenging, but the energy in the room was so intense, so charged and it was amazing to be in that space with my fellow yogis. So if your Shala does something like this I would encourage you to attend, and if they don’t, suggest it! I say it’s worth the sweat – you get to do your practice and create friendships!
All images in this post taken by Alexandria Hadley.