[Image taken from here]
I just found the above poster when I was trolling the internet. It's so true: In yoga, there is no external opponent to overcome, because all our energies and efforts are channeled toward that one most powerful opponent within ourselves. And you thought that yoga was gentle? :-)
On a related note, I feel this also explains why so many Ashtangis (including yours truly) are former martial artists. Although we may not be able to articulate it so precisely, I think many martial artists are drawn to Ashtanga yoga because of the intense presence of mind that the practice requires. Of course, if this is true, then maybe the reverse is true as well: Maybe some Ashtangis out there may also be drawn towards the martial arts for the same exact reason. Actually, some of them may even be ninjas! After all, as you can see in the video below, being able to really, really activate uddiyana bandha translates into a very useful skill in the ninja world. Hmm... becoming a ninja is beginning to seem more and more plausible as an alternative yoga dream, if I don't succeed in becoming a yoga bum :-) But first, I really have to put in more work on that uddiyana bandha...
Do try this at home (minus the nails, of course!) Happy Memorial Day weekend!