Or, at least, in this Ashtangi. As I mentioned in a recent post, I have a slouching problem. And, judging from a comment by an anonymous commenter on that post, at least one or two other Ashtangis out there also have an issue with slouching.
Now, as many of you know, Ashtanga has a reputation for attracting Type A people. Could it be that some Ashtangis (yes, I know that two Ashtangis is probably too small a sample size to warrant the description "some", but still...) slouch or otherwise have bad posture in order to (over)compensate for certain undesirable Type A traits, such as being overbearing or having an inflated ego? If slouching is indeed associated with low self-esteem, as my massage therapist friend suggests, could it then be employed by some Ashtangis as a sort of psycho-somatic mechanism to depress or suppress an inflated ego?
This thought occurred to me earlier today, after I read this interesting article in Yoga for Smart People (damn! don't you hate it when, a few days after you dissed something, it comes back to bite you in the ass when you actually find something interesting in it? Oh well. Maybe being smart isn't always such a bad thing, after all...) Here's an excerpt from the article:
"If you take an individual with an inflated ego and make their muscles
strong and beautiful and limber and encourage them to acknowledge
themselves and the contribution they are supposedly making to the world
by just showing up on their mat and they have a lot of anger and don’t
have a lot of self-awareness and they don’t have the tools to deal with
these things and they don’t know where to get them and all the yoga
teacher says is “breathe” and “trust yourself” then what happens in the
moment that they want to punch someone in the face?
They just breathe. And trust themselves."
To be sure, the author of this article isn't talking about Ashtanga, but about what she calls "postmodern hybrid yoga". I'm not entirely sure what this is; it's probably a catch-all phrase that refers to all those millions of vinyasa flows and hot yogas that we find everywhere in our beautiful (post)modern yoga scene. But I can't help feeling that what she is saying here may also apply to Ashtanga yoga practitioners; if nothing else, a regular six-day-a-week Ashtanga practice can also cause one to have strong and beautiful and limber muscles (trust me, I know what I'm talking about :-)). And I think it was David Swenson who warned that doing asana is like plowing the soil of our being; depending on what you plant in that soil, you will end up with either a very self-realized human being or a very strong and limber and physically beautiful asshole (again, trust me on this; it takes one to know one...).
Anyway, here's my hypothesis: Could it be that some Ashtangis, knowing the powerful potential of this practice to transform one's being for better or for worse, try on some subconscious level to limit its power (say, by slouching, or by adopting other transformation-stunting behaviors)? I don't know if any of this is true or even coherent (as I said, I am working with a very small sample size), but I can't help but wonder, nonetheless.
None of the above, of course, should be taken as an excuse for having bad posture or for developing any other bad habits. It's just me thinking aloud, as always. Well, I do need to go somewhere now, so I'll sign off here. But if you think any of this makes sense, and would like to say something, I'll love to hear from you.