I read Tim Miller’s blog every Tuesday. Yesterday he wrote about the Confluence Countdown and made a reference to how attendance levels had gone from a waiting list of 500 the first time to several openings still available for this year’s Confluence. This got me thinking about how Ashtanga is really the yoga that teaches self sufficiency. Not only because of the Mysore room where everyone is following their own pace and their own challenge, but because the practice is structured around building self motivation. As with any meditative discipline, you can take your mat or your cushion to the center or the shala, or stay at home. But you have to decide to roll out that mat or sit on that cushion and get started regardless of the location you decide to do that at. Community is a beautiful and necessary thing. That is why both teachers and new students thrive on their month(s) in Mysore. But I am confident in saying that one of the skills Sharath and Saraswati want to send back with their students is the ability to practice in solitude, or rather independently. That is what a good yoga teacher imparts: The ability to stand yourself. That is not a typo. I still enjoy being in large groups of ashtangis. I cannot wait to see fellow travelers that I met in India during the Namarupa Yatra when they come to NYC to practice with Sharath this summer. At the same time I now sort of insist on a day or two at home to fool around with props( research okay??) and stuff I saw online. Not that my shala frowns on props, they have them and it is a judgment free zone. I however am not so self judgment free yet, so I prefer to fool around in private. I see that as progress believe it or not because for the first 6 years of my practice I lacked the ability to motivate myself to practice alone. I think now that a person who has practiced for a few years will outgrow the format of the Confluence in San Diego unless they live nearby or it is an convenient trip. Notice I say a person who is not brand new to the practice. I highly, highly recommend a trip to San Diego for a person who does not have a community nearby or is just starting the practice. I cannot think of anything more enjoyable, except the adventure of setting aside a month of your year to spend in India. The morning practices in San Diego are really great for all levels, advanced or beginner. I got advice from Mary and Shelly that I use to this day. After the third year, the afternoon conferences become repetitive for someone with some years of practice and access to a teacher who is knowledgable and follows parampara. The repetition during conference is wonderful on the other hand for someone who is just starting the practice and has not heard the wonderful and personal stories all these gifted teachers have. I hope they fill the venue this year with people who have not had the chance to practice with these superb teachers.