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Chatarunga Dandasana

My first Ashtanga class

It’s eight o’clock in the morning. The sun is up for ages in Goa, burns my calf muscles. In front of me I see the Indian Ocean; flat as a mirror. The beach is deserted. Even the cows, who normally walk through the village at this hour of the day, don’t seem to move. Peacefully they lay in between the garbage, chewing their food. The pigs look awake, trying to find some food as well in between the garbage and the left overs the restaurants threw away.

At home I would get slowly up at this time of morning. Not here in Goa. I’ve been awake for more than two hours and have done my pranayama (breathing) exercises, have meditated and now I’m working up a sweat, trying to get through this Ashtanga class. More or less 85 poses, in strict order, which I am supposed to know at the end of this month. And not only the poses, but also how to get into and out of them, when to breathe in and out and all variations for flexible and less flexible (me) people.

Coordination, left and right have never been my strongest points, so I’m afraid this is going to be quit some mission. What is going to be even a bigger mission is doing this series without moaning and puffing myself. I have had a lot of guys looking amazed at me when I told them I did yoga. Sometimes the even told me: yoga is for women, maybe for gays, but not for ‘real men’. Most times I just grinned, didn’t go into the argument. I had some prejudgment when I started as well. Sometimes I demonstrated Crane posture by pressing my knees against my upper arms and balancing myself on my hands. That mostly quieted them down. Next time I probably invite them to join me for an Ashtanga class, because the class I’m doing this morning is more than a workout. I have run marathons, but this is serious work.

To be honest I’m enjoying every minute of it. I like to go deep. Hamstrings, low back, neck, shoulders, all my weak spots are being stretched and at the same time I’m training every muscle in my body. And thanks to all vinyasas I do more than forty push ups this series. I can’t think of a better workout.

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