Despite practicing yoga for many years and having tried various styles from different lineages, I somehow had never taken part in a fully led Ashtanga class. My curiosity got the better of me when my friend told me that a guy called David Swenson was holding an intensive Ashtanga weekend at Union Yoga in Edinburgh, 10-12th July 2015. I thought to myself, "I know that guy's name." A short search on Google and there he was. THE David Swenson, taught by THE K. Pattabhi Jois who's gift to the world was the vinyasa style of Ashtanga Yoga. Needless to say that I instantly remembered that David Swenson is one of the leading figures in Ashtanga yoga. My friend had already signed up to the weekend workshop and although the event was fully booked I put my name on the waiting list.
Two days before the event I received a phone call from Union Yoga to tell me I had a spot on the weekend! Excited and nervous I packed my yoga gear and headed off to Edinburgh. On arriving at Union Yoga there was a huge buzz in the air. We went into the studio and Union Yoga staff were on hand to place our mats very close together. We waited in great anticipation as more and more people arrived varying in ages and fitness levels. Then with around 80 of us Yogis in the studio David Swenson entered the studio. His energy and enthusiasm shone through and he started the workshop with some humour and gentle movements and discussion. At the end of the introductory Friday session David said, “Tomorrow we will begin with the primary series, it is like a train so try and keep up and stay on board!”
With that thought in my head I was excited but I also had a fear inside of me thinking, “What the hell have I signed up to here?” After a good dinner and night’s sleep, my friend and I rocked up to Union Yoga for Day 2 of the workshop. I stepped onto my mat feeling a little nervous and I looked around the studio. There were some folks who took their t-shirts off to expose their sports bras, torsos and had a very serious look on their faces. Now I was really feeling nervous. David Swenson then stepped into the studio and took control of the room. He started the class with a beautiful chant then we began. Asana after asana, vinyasa more asana then it happened. I was lost in the movements, the breath and sweating like nothing I had ever experienced before. By the end of the class everyone was dripping in sweat and I realised why the folks had partially stripped off! The primary series is something to be respected and admired. It is a moving meditation and an experience that left me wanting to experience more of the Ashtanga teachings. Luckily we had a full day of teaching from David that included handstand practice and generally having fun playing with inversions. By the end of the Saturday I was exhausted and every muscle in my body was hurting but I had a huge smile on my face.
The Sunday workshop was an introduction to the Ashtanga second series which is a different kettle of fish all together. Let’s just say I gave it my best shot!
Overall, what a wonderful way to get introduced to Ashtanga yoga. Not only is David Swenson a leading light in this area but he is a very down to earth teacher. I had a great weekend so thanks to Union Yoga for getting me off the waiting list and onto my mat.