First, a little "weather report." It appears that the blog-storm which tore through the blogosphere last week (you know what I'm talking about) has yet to die down. It has simply taken on a slightly different form, with different sound-bites. SSDD (Same Shit, Different Day). In one of my responses to one of my commenters in a post last week, I predicted that the storm hadn't lost its force (or, as Grimmly puts it, it "still seemed to have some legs in it"... hahaha!), and that we might very well be in the eye of the storm. Well, turns out I was right. Gosh, don't I love being right :-) [Ego rears its ugly head here...]
But I shall say no more about this matter. What I needed to say, I have already said. The rest must be passed over in silence... Silencio.
Instead, I'm going to stick my neck out here, and follow up on my earlier post about why we practice Ashtanga, and the nature of the practice. I got some very interesting responses to my little questionnaire at the end of that post (Thanks for sharing, everyone who responded :-)).
In what way am I sticking out my neck? Well, here's how. In her response to Christine's follow-up post on my post (how long-winded can I get?), Yyogini observed that there are a number of yoga practitioners who started out practicing Ashtanga, and then drifted away to practice other styles. She is quite curious about their reasons for switching styles, and has set out on a mission to find out why. I wish you all the best in your mission, Yyogini, and look forward to hearing about your findings :-)
In the meantime, I'm going to stick my neck out and venture a few preliminary observations of my own about why ex-Ashtangis switch styles or "jump ship". I understand that the word choice of "ex-Ashtangi" doesn't sound very nice (can't think of anything nicer-sounding right now), but I really don't mean anything derogatory by "ex". Please believe me: How many more people can I afford to offend, anyway?
In any case, I sense that this is a sensitive topic, one that needs to be handled with finesse and care. And I may not be the best person to do this, especially in my present state of mind (I just had two big slices of pizza and a big mug of beer :-)). But being the proverbial fool who often rushes in where angels fear to tread, I have decided to tackle this topic anyway, at my own peril. To begin with, here are some observations I have gathered from talking to some ex-Ashtangis over the years. From what I have learnt, two common reasons for ex-Ashtangis switching from Ashtanga to some other style are:
(1) Some injury forced them to either stop practicing or modify the practice in a way that they found to be unacceptable;
(2) Some particular postures (backbends are a common example) which are too unpleasant/challenging in an unpleasant way.
Sometimes, I think it is also a combination of (1) and (2): A particular injury or issue resulting from a particular challenging posture forces the practitioner to either have to stop practicing or modify in a way they deem unacceptable. So they switch styles. I have also observed that Anusara is a common style to switch to. Don't know why. It's just my observation.
I don't know how true all this is. As I said, they are just my observations from having being around in the yoga world, and picking up on stuff around me. Yes, I am the yogic fly-on-the wall :-)
Perhaps I should also end this post with a little questionnaire. For those of you out there reading this blog who are ex-Ashtangis (if there are any such), I would be really grateful if you can take the time to answer the following questions:
(1) What made you stop practicing Ashtanga?
(2) What style are you practicing now? How does this style serve your mind/body needs better than Ashtanga?
(3) Do you think your Ashtanga practice has influenced the way you practice your present style in any way, shape or form? Why or why not?
(4) Do you think there is any possibility that you might return to practicing Ashtanga in the future? Why or why not?