You know how there’s the first rule of Fight Club? There’s also a first rule of Ashtanga yoga. No, it’s not “Don’t talk about Ashtanga yoga.” It’s “Ashtanga is a daily practice.” Yeah, that sounds daunting. Who in the world would start off a yoga practice with a commitment to daily practice? You know what? I have no idea how it happens that some people dive right in and start practicing six days a week and then carry on with it for the rest of their lives. But I know it happens. Maybe it’s karma of some sort. Maybe it’s a sign of an obsessive nature. Maybe some combination of both.
But the bottom line is this: Ashtanga yoga as taught by Pattabhi Jois and by Sharath Jois is a daily practice.
Is that a high bar? Yup. Is it always required? Yup.
So where can someone start, if daily practice is the requirement? Well, the first thing is to find a place where you want to practice and then commit to practicing for a good while. No stopping in for a class and then ditching it. Your mind will always make up a million reasons why you shouldn’t carry on with your commitments. It’s human nature. You know all the wackiness in your life, the things that whirl you around and that seem like you can’t control? First step to sorting that shit out is controlling your mind. So you’ve got to decide — you’ve got to COMMIT — to practice for six months or a year or (even better) ten years. You’ve got to pick a shala and put your mat down and do it. Period.
Absolute beginners can start off with three days a week of practice, with the commitment to add days on — maybe one day per week or month of practice. It really doesn’t matter how you do the timing on this (and your teacher will be happy to sort that out with you) — the important thing is that you make a vow and that you keep it.
Ashtanga is a demanding practice — and anyone who is wavering in their mind about how they’re going to approach their daily practice will soon find themselves ditching their daily practice. This isn’t about “life/circumstances getting in the way,” — this is about letting the fluctuations of your mind pull you to and fro. And this practice is about getting your act together. It may seem daunting, but it’s the simplest way in the world to get yourself pulled together. Want a strong, stable mind? Want to manifest good things? Quit making excuses. Practice. Daily. Make it happen.