The Struggle to Practice
The Ashtanga practice is deliberately designed to remain perpetually challenging. The way that you respond to these obstacles will teach you a lot about yourself. It will mold you in ways that you never expected and which are often life-changing.
All of this is great. But, more mundanely, sometimes it’s really hard to get out of bed in the morning and go to practice. Or to miss hanging out with good friends so you can get to bed early enough to wake up at 5:30 in the morning. Or in general to be ever-vigilant about what you eat and what you do over the course of the day because of how it affects your practice.
It's difficult and unpleasant to practice Ashtanga casually because the practice is so physically demanding that anything less than a three times per week daily practice gets painful. You have to stick with it to keep your strength up and this can create stress when your resolve wavers because it can very quickly feel (whether it's true or not) like you're on the verge of losing your practice altogether, or at least risk losing the ability to do that new cherished asana that you finally twisted into last week after months or years of trying.
I felt my left hamstring pop in kurmasana a couple of weeks ago and slowly things have started to change. It's not a particularly bad injury but obviously I have had to take it easy and not push anything, especially forward folds, which is potentially dispiriting and tough on that ever-fragile ego that we're all trying to transcend. Right around the same time a wave of awesome concerts rolled through town and I missed a couple more classes. We've been having heat issues at one of the studios where I practice and it's made it harder to stay warm and so I've felt the injury more distinctly. All of these events have come together at more or less the same time and so recently I have skipped classes, slept in late, or showed up late and only practiced half primary. Which is very unusual for me.
The question is where to go next. Do I let go of my practice a bit by going to class more infrequently and by cutting my practices short so I can stay up late and be more social and do more of the things I've been missing, or do I redouble my resolve to maintain the status quo? I'm not sure but right now my gut is saying back off.