I have dabbled in quite a few yoga styles over the years: hot & sweaty power, vinyasa, yin, astanga, hatha, etc.
I learned something from all of them...often I learned what I did not want to do with my body.
I stayed with astanga for quite some time. I was in my 20s and missing the buzz I got from karate. For me, the problem with astanga was the fact that I needed to be peeled off the roof at the end of the session. Astanga stoked our fires and egos. It became horribly competitive, people frequently hurt themselves and it became all about body beautiful. It was unhealthy for me to continue. One Iyengar class was all it took for me to realise...."Ahhhhh, so this is how calm feels." By complete contast to the astanga class, Iyengar left me feeing complete, grounded, whole, calm (whilst still getting that blissful tired body feeling that so many sporty-types enjoy).
I'm not going to bash astanga, I think for some Kapha-types it can be really useful - under the guidance of a good teacher.
I am not alone in this experience. There's a brilliant quote from an article written last year in Yoga Dork which describes it well:
"For many, power and hot yoga have become like that friend who you initially hit it off with and had so much fun with but now when you hang out it just feels negative and draining. Eventually, you drift apart."
The whole article is well worth a read (click to read the article)
I think for many people, myself included, yoga is viewed as a form of physical exercise initially. A way to tone up, lose weight, stretch out. And there's nothing wrong with that. But, when you practise yoga under the guidance of a good teacher, you practise slowly, with awareness and compassion, at some stage, you begin to notice it is so much more than physical exercise.
When you practise yoga in this way it is meditation through movement. The doing is the yoga. The final pose is simply a part of the doing, which you may or may not achieve that day. Letting go of this need to achieve, to accomplish, to show others and ourselves how good we are, is liberating.
You won't need others' admiration or recognition. You will learn to love yourself and appreciate the small things in yoga and your life in general.
But you must slow down to appreciate the beauty, freedom and stillness that is at the centre of all of us, just waiting to be recognised, to be felt and appreciated.