Question: What are we actually doing on our mat each day?
Answer: Engaging in play through the great game of Shape Making (Asana Kara). The spirit of ashtanga really boils down to being involved in high-level shape making. High level needs defining; it means that you love hatha yoga and doing postures is a really big deal to you. You want, yearn, and need to be on your mat each day highly invested in making shapes with your body. Your motivation to do this is higher than even the average yoga student. Somehow, one way or another you must get in there and play the game and that is all. Hi level shape making has little to do with doing advanced shapes and more to do with feeling compelled to mine the gold from nearly any shape. You want the quickening of attention that arrives when you wake up to the process of striking your feet into the earth and using your limbs to build a sturdy foundation that supports your spinal gesture. Every tiny opportunity to interlock your body, breath, and mind in a meditative predicament holds interest for you. This includes the basic or un-exotic position. The list of shapes that you dearly want to make includes Samasthiti, Dandasana, Sirsasana, and any other asana that is composed of merely one or two straight lines. Doubt and frustration may arise when you come up against your limits-for whatever reason- and you will find postures that you cannot safely, agreeably, and effectively do but you swiftly dodge such potential obstructions because you love shape making; you immediately redirect your attention to any and every shape that is available to you within the limits of your given set of circumstances.
Here’s what students of ashtanga share: we all find courage, breath, stillness, beauty, refuge, healing, knowledge, and peace in shape making. We lay body and mind on the line and bet our existence on the peculiar notion that these positions are worthy vehicles that help us to ride to the invisible realms of pure consciousness and sacred unity.