And the Journey Continues

yohigh_152By Gail Larned

I had been studying and practicing Hatha yoga for about 10 years before I started practicing Ashtanga, in 1998. When I first saw people practicing Ashtanga, I was hooked: “I want to do what they’re doing!” I taught a yoga class at Grant Hospital at the same time as the Primary Series class at Yoga on High and couldn’t attend it. I’d arrive at YoHi to see all of those sweaty, jubilant Ashtangis, and wish I could be in the room with them. So I quit my gig at Grant and joined in the fun. I began to study with my friend and colleague Martha Marcom, learning the sequence of the Primary Series. And it has always been that for me: challenging, rewarding and fun.

Over the years I was able to take teacher trainings with master Ashtanga teachers Tim Miller and David Swenson. I learned the sequence and was mostly “successful” in the poses. I could bind in Marichyasana D, a benchmark in the Ashtanga practice.

As time passed, I began to slack off, attending fewer classes, doing fewer vinyasas. As David Swenson says, I began to “give back” poses, with binding in Marichyasana D being among the first to go. I was practicing what I thought of as Ashtanga yoga for Seniors.

And then an amazing thing happened. I felt I wanted to kick up my yoga practice, so I began attending Morning Mysore during the May Challenge and, lo and behold, I loved it. After 30 years of doing Down Dog, it is a new pose for me, thanks to Marcia Miller and Linda Chun’s help and guidance. Some days I can balance in Handstand for 2 or 3 seconds. That is huge! And, once again, I’m binding in Marichyasana D. It is so excellent to feel strong, committed, engaged and joyous with my self and my practice. It is empowering to show up every day with other like-minded students breathing, sweating, striving, sometimes grunting and laughing. I am so grateful to be part of this community of support and compassion as we all explore this amazing path. I am living proof that you’re never too old to be strong, learn new things and create new pathways.

Gail Larned teaches both Hatha and Ashtanga classes at Yoga on High.