I started the Ashtanga book project when I was struggling with a number of injuries from practicing Ashtanga Yoga, and was wondering if the practice was really meant for women. With a very flexible but also very weak body, I was concerned that the series was not for me. I searched for a book that shared the stories of other women practicing Ashtanga Yoga, but at the time only found publications that predominantly focused on how to do the poses. What I was searching for was insight: stories from women who might be able to share some wisdom that would help me to understand the tradition of Ashtanga. Since the book didn't exist, I decided to try to create it.
I collected a number of essays from several women practicing and teaching Ashtanga. The stories from these women reveal how powerful - and healing - the Ashtanga system can be when practiced with wisdom and patience. The essays provide guidance on how to develop a practice, as well as advice on how to practice with an awareness-not a rejection- of the particular strengths of a woman's body. My hope is that these stories will also help others who might be wondering if the practice is right for them. No one can give us the answers - only the practice can do that - but listening to the stories of others who have found solace in the practice connects us to one another and to the tradition.
This project was more demanding than I had anticipated. Trying to collect and publish the essays was a daunting task, and so I turned to Clinton Griffiths at Ekaminhale to see if he might be interested in taking this project to its completion. Thankfully, both he and Derick Yu decided to move forward with the effort, collecting the final essays, designing the book, and publishing it. I have learned that so many things take a small village to bring to fruition. I am thankful for Clinton and Derick, as well as all of the other people who volunteered their time to publish this book. I am also grateful for all of the contributors, as well as to the many Ashtanga Yoga teachers who continue to encourage me - and others - to practice.