I've started doing yoga in 2009, where the studio (Ananda Marge) was walking distance from where I lived. I took around 2 months worth of class every Saturday and it has greatly improved my flexibility.
My teachers were Indian yogis and I was introduced to vegan eating. I was happy doing yoga with my sister, until she got pregnant with my nephew and she had to stop doing yoga.
Soon after that, my practice was all over the place. I only did yoga when I had time after office, and only when there were free classes sponsored by the office. I tried vinyasa classes and power yoga. I had no idea there were other "kinds" of yoga and that I had to start somewhere from the ground up.
I moved into my own condo and there was a Hatha Yoga offered. I attended the class and I got impatient because it was slow and it was not continuous. It was Iyengar Yoga. After some months turned into years, I appreciated the focus on alignment and slow and steady build of strength.
When my teacher finally earned his right to teach at the Iyengar studio, his usual students had to either take classes at the Iyengar studio, or better yet, left to start their practice on their own. While I tried to be a good student and took classes at the studio, I barely had the time to prepare and run to class every morning. The value of doing yoga was defeated because I was always stressed to get there and to run home to do my work. It wasn't sustainable. So, I stopped.
I decided to do my own practice.. at home. I bought books, several books to study the poses, the right way of getting into them, and the right precautions. The next problem was to design the flow of my poses. I wasn't so creative, really. I don't know what routine to do in order to properly build strength and to increase flexibility.
I tried downloading apps like Yoga (Yoga.com), Daily Yoga, etc. I tried to make my own routine (because why not, I'm a creature of habit.. I'm very routinal) I learned that I had a lot of things I need to work on, so that's what I did.
The sad thing was, I had to unlearn some of the things that I learned through the years. For one thing, kicking up to headstand prevented me from doing headstand (sirsasana 1) anywhere I wanted. I was chained to the wall because that's just where I can do headstand. I wanted to build on my arm strength, my balance, my core, etc.. however, doing the same routine everyday was not helping the different parts of my body that were weak.
So, I decided to own my practice. I'm neither an Ashtangi yogi, nor an Iyengar yogi. I decided to mix and match my practice so that I will reap the benefits of both. I added in some weight lifting to strengthen my arms and I decided to join IG challenges. This helped me a lot to be motivated and do my practice everyday, and discover more asanas that I can do to improve different aspects of my practice.
When I get the chance to go back to Iyengar classes, my teacher would make me kick again to get up to headstand and up against the wall. Of course, I wanted to learn ways to improve my newly learned asana, but I was again taught to do it against the wall.. always.
I was honestly a little surprised, and, admittedly shocked. I know the value of using the wall, because you can make adjustments to train your brain and muscles to feel differently or maybe use it for alignment. But I was asked: "we do yoga for health; so why do we need to do the asanas away from the wall?" I thought that my answer was the simplest, and probably the most obvious.. "so that I can still do my asanas even without the wall".
In Iyengar yoga, they have different levels. You will start in Level 1, and probably stay there until your teacher tells you you can progress to the next level. For how long? Time will tell. I know someone who's in Level 1 for a long time, and someone fairly new who's already jumped to Level 2. Before, I really wanted to get to an advanced level; but I realised that these are just labels to describe your state of practice. In some asana, I can advance, in some, I couldn't get into.
In Ashtanga yoga, there are series of routine that you can do in order to advance your practice. I think this is really good. The asanas and the flow can really build you up for strength. However, some poses I still can't do, so I continue to build my strength and flexibility in ways that work for me. I practise the primary series maybe twice a week.
So, I'm more of a hybrid. Is that a bad thing? In the last class that I was in, I failed to follow one routine properly and after class, I was told.. "In Gheeta's class, she will scold you if you don't follow the routine and you will be kicked out".
Maybe I'm too sensitive, but that was kind of hurtful. It makes me feel unwanted because I make my own practice according to what I love/want.
Honestly, am I a bad yogi?