• Suzanne Pinkney

How I Fell in Love with Ashtanga

I started practicing yoga as a teenager and attended classes with my mum. After a while, our teacher left due to work commitments and we weren't keen on the new lady so we stopped going. I started yoga again in 2012 while living in Cornwall. At first, I went to one class a week which was 1.5 hours of gentle Hatha yoga and 30 minutes of meditation. I went every week and soon decided to find out more about different styles. I found a couple of studios and went to Vinyasa classes, which I enjoyed, and Bikram classes, which I didn't.

I felt something was missing. I read about other styles of yoga. Ashtanga was the one that caught my eye. By now, I had finished my doctorate in Cornwall and was about to move to Sheffield. I searched for Ashtanga classes in Sheffield and found classes near where I was moving to, in a Buddhist centre. I signed up to both classes, one on a Monday evening and the other on Thursdays.

It was love at first sight. I loved the classes and my teacher Nicola. I don't think I missed a class for the first 6 months! I liked the way it was hard and I had to do the postures I disliked. It didn't take long for me to start going to Nicola's studio where she taught Mysore-style classes and held regular workshops. A year after I started with Nicola, I found a teacher near my parents teaching Mysore so I could still practice when I went home.

In January 2017, I found out I was pregnant. As my personal and professional lives began to unravel, I found solice in my practice. It was the one constant at that time. Gradually, the postures changed to accommodate my changing body, but it was still my practice, and recognisable from my "normal" pre-pregnancy days.

After I had my son, I waited the required 6 weeks before starting again. It was hard and I had to relearn postures I had been able to do comfortably. The greatest lesson from my pre and postnatal period was I had to let go of expectations, forget about ego and do what my body could do at that moment in time.

I regained strength slowly, it took 6 months to be able to do chaturanga again properly! By this time, I had started to teach Hatha and Mum and Baby classes but I knew I wanted to teach Ashtanga as well. I signed up to David Swenson's 40 hour teacher training that year. I loved his approach and it reconfirmed my love for Ashtanga. Around the same time, I started going to new Ashtanga teachers and teaching classes for beginners.

I now teach several Ashtanga classes per week, in addition to my Hatha classes. For the past 5.5 years, Ashtanga has been one of the few constants in my life and given me some life lessons: let go of expectations and ego, go with the flow, and, yes, I can do it.

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