The Ashtanga Yoga teacher Tarik Thami once said to me "If you don't want your life to change, don't start practicing Ashtanga."
Back in 1999, I was 21 years old and writing software in San Francisco. The economy was going crazy, I was making tons of money, partying all the time and generally fooling myself into thinking that life would be like that forever. I don't know why exactly, but one day I walked into Larry Schultz's It's Yoga and started to study with him. I had never really been very active before moving to San Francisco, mostly I just sat in front of a computer screen and ate lots of Doritos. Yoga clicked with me in a way that gyms and other forms of exercise didn't, especially the way in which it emphasized the relationship between the breath and the body and on creating happiness along with health.
Eventually the tech-bubble burst, and the work started to dry up. At first I managed to hold on to a string of random programming jobs, but as the venture capital left the valley so did the jobs. After being laid off one day, I decided to drive right to It's Yoga where Larry walked out, offered a congratulatory hug and told me that I was going to attend the teacher training he was teaching in a few days.
Since then, I have studied with Noah Williams and Kimberly Flynn in Los Angeles and made two trips to Mysore to study with Guruji, Sharath and Saraswathi.
When I started to practice in the Ashtanga tradition, I chose it because it seemed to be the most physically demanding, however I've learned that it's the mental demands that make a difference. The asanas have become easier over the years, but the mental challenge of returning to the mat most mornings and working through the same series continues.