Adventures in Mysore India,  Ashtanga Adaptability,  Social Media,  Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy

Ashtanga Community or Your Community?

Your circle of friends and acquaintances does not represent the whole human race.

A few weeks ago, my daughter talked about how she doesn’t understand how McDonald’s is still in business because no one eats there. I explained to her that just because her vegan upper middle class friends don’t eat there, it does not mean that no one eats there.

I see similar conversations about Ashtanga. Big blanket statements about what is going on in the Ashtanga community. Ummm…maybe that is happening with your circle. It is not necessarily happening in mine or India or Chicago or down the street at the next yoga studio.

We draw to us experiences that fit our own beliefs. Science has proven that our brain filters out what it thinks is unimportant.  Yoga is the science of seeing the world for what it is.  The Yoga Sutras begin by letting the yogi know that sometimes we believe stories in our head that are not true. Our brains will search for the information it needs to confirm that story and throw out what doesn’t fit.  The people you hang out with, the articles you read online, the studios you practice at, the teachers you seek out, and the forums you post in, are all going to be reflective of what you currently think.

I will never forget our recent presidential election. Everyone in my circle, which consists of mala and harem pant wearing hippies that shop at Whole Foods, drink green juices and take moon baths, were totally convinced that no one liked Trump, that he was an idiot and there was no way he would be president. Needless to say, when he was elected, they were devastated.  In tears, one of my friends explained to me how no one likes Trump and she didn’t understand how it happened.  I told her, “no one YOU knew liked Trump.”  During the election, there was tons of information that pointed to Trump totally being a contender. She didn’t see it. It was out there.

You don’t have to be blind sided like my friend was or be guilty of making blanket statements on Instagram. The Yoga Sutras give many practices to help find clarity. You just have to chose one and use it for the right purpose. Patanjali states that “yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”. When your yoga practice is used properly, it will create space in your mind and open your eyes and heart to see past your limited circle of reality. Become a lover of reality; someone who finds joy in seeing what is.


Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail


  • Greg Dstl

    I love this article. It’s great perspective, Shanna. Too often people get caught up in the world around them and lose perspective that there is a big world out there with tons of people who have different lives, experiences and thoughts. People can get so into “their thing” that they forget that there are a lot of other “things” out there. Great piece. Thanks!