POV

Ashtanga Adventures Part 1: New Year, New Yogi

You get to see your mind, you get to see how your choices affect your being.

Interview to Bibi Lorenzetti by Teo J. Babini - Video by: Alessandro Sigismondi

It’s resolution time, but before you rush to the gym to get that membership, consider the choice you are making and the reasons for it. We caught up with Bibi Lorenzetti to talk about the transformative power of Ashtanga yoga… Now that’s what I call a real resolution.
Before we get into Ashtanga, I wanted to ask your general thoughts on these “Yoga Challenges” where students are challenged to practice everyday for month? Is it wise to increase practice to such a high degree? What happens when the challenge is over?
I think it’s neither good nor bad. However, I do think that when joining any kind of challenge one must ask themselves ‘Why?’. What is the reason behind my choice of challenging myself to get on the mat everyday. And, also, what kind of yoga is it?

In the Ashtanga tradition, we practice six days a week, but we guide the student to build towards that. The reason you build towards it, versus jumping straight in, is so that the body needs time to get used to the movement, to soak in the changes, to rest between sessions, and to crave getting back on the mat. I find challenges are mostly led by a mental choice to do something out of comfort zone, and that is great, especially if it’s to get you out of an unhealthy situation. However, generally when we make mental decisions they are ego driven—we disconnect mind and body, so we are not cultivating awareness. The whole point of yoga is to cultivate awareness. So on one hand I’d say, if a challenge is the only thing that will motivate you to get off the couch and make an attempt at changing your lifestyle then go for it. If you are choosing a challenge, to excuse an unhealthy lifestyle, then I would say be careful what you choose.

Another thing one may consider doing is, talking to the teacher, and asking for support to establish a healthy routine around the month of yoga, so that when the challenge is over, one does not go back to where he or she started, but rather uses what they have learned to move forward into a new way of living.

Ideally, you want to start three times a week, and slowly over a period of 6 months you start integrating more days and build up to a six-day a week practice. In Ashtanga, in one month you are just beginning to learn how to use the breath, how to coordinate breath with movement, you are starting to get familiar with the order of the sequence, with remembering the asanas, so if you invested a month of your life to then stop and do something else, it just would be a big waste of time. It’s about building integrity, discipline and responsibility for one’s health and life.

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We know that New Years is the time for resolutions, better fitness/gym attendance/weight loss being some of the more common ones. Do you think Ashtanga yoga would be a good way of going about achieving this type of fitness centric resolution? Why or why not?
Certainly. The choice to start is always good. Using the energy and excitement of the New Year is a great investment. We just had a new moon in Capricorn, which is meant to help us access our inner warrior and reclaim our truth. What better way to dig deep within your soul to find what it is you really want for your life and express it. That’s what Ashtanga yoga is. It teaches you who you are. The asanas help to break through rigidity of body and mind, so that we can be connect to our core self.

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I am very intrigued at the idea the repetitious nature of the practice forces you to change from within. Continuing from the last question, do you think Ashtanga yoga can be a positive force for people who want to transform themselves in the New Year. New Year, New You; so to speak. Please explain why.
Ashtanga yoga works miracles in this, because you are doing the same thing everyday and that is beyond powerful. You get to see your mind, you get to see how your choices affect your being. You keep digging deeper and deeper into the same areas of the body, so that eventually release happens. The body becomes more flexible and there is more ease in your mind. The more you give in, the more flexibility you acquire, the more advanced the asanas become. It’s a transformative practice. It requires continuity, discipline and patience.The relationship with the teacher is very important especially at the beginning stages because he or she will hold the space for you to find this devotion. If you are looking to lose weight, gain strength, or become healthy this is the way to go. It may take a little longer then the month challenges, but the results will last forever, you will shed the weight forever, you will gain the strength forever, you will learn to make healthy choices without relaying on fad diets. I say this because I was once there, I was scared shitless to say yes to something that was not going to give me results right away, but I invested in it, and now I boast in it’s benefits. How did this happen? Coming in every morning to do the same set of asanas, there was no one to blame for my choices—no bad teacher, no bad time, no uncomfortable studio—just me, myself and I. That is how you transform! That is the power of this beautiful practice! So yes! If your New Year resolution is to change some condition you don’t like – body, mind, inability to change your job, friendships, heartbreak… Ashtanga yoga is the way to go.

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You mentioned that the decisions you make in your daily life become apparent in how they affect your practice. How can revelers expect to feel when using Ashtanga as a hangover cure on New Years day? How is performance affected by casual drinking, or even heavy drinking and partying?
The two just can’t co-exist for very long, but that is why it’s best to ease into it. The great thing about yoga is that we learn to deal with judgment. We learn to work with who we are in all honesty and appreciate any effort we make to change toward the positive. We learn what harming our bodies, minds and souls mean, so we can recognize when we are doing that. This, of course, comes with time only! Guruji, the founder of this lineage used to always say “99% practice 1%theory” and that is absolute truth. You must go through the fire of practice over a long period, you must keep making the same mistakes over and over again, until you get sick of them, until you loose the urge to make them, until they loose their specialness. The practice when done consistently shows us that. There is no one to judge you for your actions, only your own mind. But don’t let a hangover stop you from stepping on the mat. Keep getting drunk, keep over eating, and keep taking drugs if you must, but also keep getting up and stepping on the mat. Eventually, if you have a good teacher, the first glass of wine, beer, whisky, line of coke, that extra burger, that extra piece of cake, one more party… Whatever it may be, will not be so appealing because of the practice and it’s effects on you as a whole will be more appealing. Don’t take anything away from yourself because you’ll just want it more. Instead, just add three days of practice.

If you love partying you may be thinking “yeah right” and that’s fine, I also used to think that. But I also gave my teacher a chance and kept showing up. Eventually, the partying started to loose its importance, without me ever deciding it. And it was ok. I’m still alive, happy, full of friends, and on top of it I am healthy. The practice helps you to let go of the attachment to those things, and the idea of you with those things. It’s gentle, yet persistent.

Three rules:
No judgment – Come as you are.
Be willing – Make a deal with yourself. You can keep doing what you are doing, but you must commit to coming no matter what.
Be honest – Accept yourself for what you are and work with what you have.

What you’ll get:
You’ll learn to take responsibility of your choices and actions
You’ll feel supported in your journey
You will look amazing and everyone will start asking you what are you doing that you look thin, healthy and younger!

Where do you see your dedication to Ashtanga Yoga leading you in 2015?
I see it leading me in the direction I am meant to be going, wherever that may be. I trust that by showing up everyday and doing my duty as a good human being I will be guided to where I am meant to be at all times. I just ask to be shown the way, and hope to be open enough to receive it with an open heart, clear eyes, and steady mind! That’s why I practice.

Any last words for 2014?
Having received the blessing of my Guru Sharath Jois to teach this method of Ashtanga Yoga, I hope to reach the people who are waiting to take the leap. My teachers have all shown me their love and devotion for this practice and guide me daily on this path. My biggest wish is to in return do the same for many other beings.

Bibi Lorenzetti
bibilorenzetti.com
yoga – food – health coaching

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOE5qVfEV4Sqv6MqDxI416A

 

 

2 Responses to “Ashtanga Adventures Part 1: New Year, New Yogi”

  1. Claudia Borges says:

    Thank you Bibi, I love it and i could not be more agree with all you are expressing. Much love and hope to meet you again in Mysore. Maravilloso 2015!