By Martha Marcom
Let me count the ways in Sanskrit:
Ekam: I love the ritual. We begin with an Invocation. We submit to the sacred fire. We build the breath and the sweat. We warm our bodies up with Surya Namaskara, ground them in the standing poses, open them deeply in the heart of each series and conclude the practice with the purification of the classical finishing asanas.
Dve: I love the guru. Our sweet teacher, Guruji, Pattabi Jois, was an incredible Sanskrit scholar. In answer to a question he would begin to chant a passage from the Gita, the Vedas, the Sutras, the Uppanishads--he knew all of these and many other sacred texts. He was infused with holy knowledge and he transmitted this through the teaching of the asana practices.
Trini: I’ve come to love every pose. I love that you have to butt up against asanas that seem inaccessible at first in your body, and how they demand the humility and determination required to work through both physical and mental resistance. Ashtanga requires us to embrace those poses that are unpleasant at first. Those difficult poses hold many openings for us. If we hang in there with a daily practice, over time, they become another flower in the mala.
Catvari: I love the energetic flow of the practice and the state I’m left in after Savasana. The morning practice readies us, steadies us for what the day may bring.
Pancha: It’s true for me that this practice is yoga chitiska, yoga therapy, and it works on all levels—physical, emotional and mental. I have conclusive proof of this. I am increasingly at home in my body and more skillful in working with my mind and emotions.
Sat:I love that the sequence is a known quantity. There is freedom and spaciousness for me in knowing exactly where I am, what comes next and where I’ll end up. After many years now, the Primary Series has become reliably comforting.
Sapta:I love and deeply admire the teachers of this system who have been practicing for decades—and I want what they have! Of the teachers I have studied with who will be at the Ashtanga Confluence in March:
I love Tim Miller’s huge grounded presence, his intimacy with the sacred texts, his connection with the movements of the heavens, and especially, his humor.
I love David Swenson’s joyfulness and kindness, his lightness of being, how he makes our practice so user-friendly and the fun and humor he finds in almost everything.
I love Richard Freeman’s immense mind and philosophical understanding, his generous sharing of the subtle aspects of the practice and his dry wit and humor.
Our teachers are filled with the good humor, dedication and wisdom that Guruji transmitted!
Though I’ve not yet studied with Eddie Stern, I love that he published Yoga Mala, and that I was fortunate to be at the Broome St. Shala with Guruji during one of the pujas that transformed his shala into a temple for Ganesha—a dedication full of beauty.
I love that Nancy Gilgoff was the dauntless pioneer who cleared the way for all of us ashtanga yoginis.
Ashtau:I love that some of the postures are humbling—a perfect balance to those that feel triumphant.
Nava:I love the meditative quality of the practice, and the physical ease that can arise out of resting in the breath; I love the ujjayi breath
Dasa: I love the invitation to keep progressing through the various series. There is no end to the challenge. But also there’s no end to the primary series—to just practicing the same ole thing every day, with love.
Martha is headed to the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence this March. We look forward to hear about how her experience of studying under many of the world’s master teachers alongside over one thousand other practitioners deepens her love for Ashtanga. If you are excitedly awaiting the Confluence stay connected with The Confluence Countdown.