Practicing the Seventh Series

by Christina on August 15, 2016

In the ashtanga practice there are six asana “series” — each with physical poses that are progressively more difficult. Most of us ashtangis don’t get past the 2nd or 3rd series. Interestingly, the little talked about final “seventh series” is not about physical poses, but rather refers to the practice of family life.

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I used to wake up before sunrise to make it to morning mysore practice. I loved my morning routine – wake up early, make coffee, have a sweaty intense yoga practice with my fellow ashtangis, and then be ready for the day ahead. I became obsessed. I started in my pre-med school days and kept it up throughout residency.

Everything changed when I had my son two years ago. I don’t think the ashtanga world talks enough about how motherhood changes the practice, and most ashtangi moms I know transition away from the practice, or move to a much-modified home practice. A lot of us then disconnect from the ashtanga community.

I sometimes feel disappointed in myself for not making it to the yoga studio and not doing the same physical practice as before. I sometimes feel guilty or feel like I should be doing more.

My “asana” practice these days involves haphazard distracted time on the yoga mat with a toddler running around and a resting newborn next to me.

IMG_3193FullSizeRender (5)It’s easy to forget that I’m actually in the thick of one of the hardest and most difficult series of the ashtanga practice – the seventh series.

My real “practice” now is off the mat:

  • When I’m fully present looking into the eyes of my newborn, Max
  • When I’m patiently cuddling my two-year old JJ, late at night, first thing in the morning, and in the middle of the night when he’s crying after a bad dream
  • When the house is a mess and I can feel content and present in the moment
  • When I crouch down and calmly talk with my two-year old son about why he should not hit me
  • When my husband is also exhausted and I am loving and patient with him
  • When I let go of a need to “be productive” and put away my phone or computer to be present with my family
  • When I don’t feel guilty about not exercising like I used to, or insecure about not having the body I used to

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One day I know I’ll have the time and freedom to get back to the mysore practice. One day my boys will be grown and they won’t need me like they do now. But for now my practice is here, at home, with my boys. It’s sometimes on the mat, but mostly off of it.

It’s the 7th series. It’s something we should be proud of and be talking about more.

Any fellow ashtangi moms out there, please take a look at this beautiful post on the “invisible practice” that we are all doing:

Ashtanga’s 7th Series – The Invisible Practice

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris August 16, 2016 at 10:18 pm

That is such a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

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Macy February 7, 2017 at 2:37 am

Thank you for this.

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