I was first introduced to Ashtanga back in 2012, when I moved to Ithaca, NY, for a grad school. I can still vividly remember watching my first Ashtanga teacher Diane demo some of the vinyasas: she was moving so effortlessly and gracefully, lifting herself up, floating into a handstand, sending the legs through the arms, and then landing softly into a seated position.
Me in Dancer Pose, 2012
At that time, I considered myself a fairly good practitioner - "almost advanced" 😂. On the picture above, I am showing off my Natarajasana / Dancer Pose, which I was pretty proud of and didn't think it could be improved.
The truth is back then I had zero core or upper body strength, no bandha awareness, no balance, no endurance, no understanding of breathing.. I was definitely flexible, arrogant, and ignorant. Just like that frog that lived in a barrel and never wanted to get out because it didn't think there's anything larger than a barrel out there.
Because of my ignorance I believed that I already almost achieved what I could have had achieved, so I didn't try too hard to do better. I thought a headstand was my final goal 😅. I was limited by my own mind. But thanks to that life changing class with Diane, I was finally able to see beyond mind's myopic vision.
Me in Dancer Pose, 2017
An important change is that now I'm using more strength and bandhas and less rely on my back flexibility, which is a much healthier way of performing any backbend. I am still working on improving my Dancer.
No matter where we're at any point in our lives, each one of us can do much better. They say, the sky is the limit. No, not even the sky. Ask Elon Musk - he'd tell you the same thing 😉.