Ashtanga Blog

Type A personality and Ashtanga Yoga

Should Type A people practice Ashtanga Yoga? Or is this practice “bad” for overachievers? 

Tania Kemou practicing Kapotasana Ashtanga pose in Serifos, Greece

Many say Ashtanga Yoga is not good for overly ambitious and competitive people because it will accentuate these traits of their personality in an often harmful way.

Since these people are drawn to always doing more, seeking more, this practice will make them greedy for poses and advancement and have them injured in no time. Moreover it will inflate their ego in the process.

All this is probably right. The question is: is the best way to face one’s demons to avoid meeting them at all? Or is it a far more courageous approach to meet them head on, fight the battle at the risk of suffering some damage to then begin to soften?

As much as Ashtanga practice is perceived to be a strong, masculine practice that makes students want to outpace themselves and others, it has an incredible potential to soften and heal. Few know about it because few make it there. Most abandon when injury or the first major setback comes. But healing, softening, humbling happens only later in the path. After you have celebrated numerous victories, after your ego has been boosted, the plateau will inevitably come in one form or another and will show you what this is really all about. 

It is about facing your own shadows, patterns, motivations in life. Remember: whatever happens on the mat is a reflection of yourself acting in real life.

At the same time the practice will address whatever needs to be addressed if you are aware and alert enough to “get” the message. Having a skilful teacher is extremely helpful because often they will see things that you refuse to see yourself. Still, practice itself is the greatest teacher and will inevitably soften your edges if you let it. 

I believe that refusing to see the sides of ourselves that we are not comfortable with on the pretext of protecting ourselves is not sustainable. 

Exposure, rather than protection will eventually free us from our demons, shadows and prisons of our own making.