Needless to say that I certainly do not recommend this. After a cocktail with one friend, three glasses of white plus one of rose, appetizers, a cheese plate, along with dessert with another friend, followed by a hamburger and a shake to go from Shake Shack at 10 PM (because there was no line! There never is no line!!) I just finished a smooth free of discomfort practice. Go figure. Not that I have to come up with reasons, but I am finding out that an Ashtanga practice is most sustainable when there is nothing to demonstrate, prove, accomplish. In other words when you subtract the feeling of obligation and instead curiously wonder if it can happen while a burger and a salted caramel shake sit undigested in your stomach. Sometimes the answer is yes. Maybe only  this one time the answer is yes. All I know is that you have to get up and find out. I read two posts earlier this week. One discussed how it was advisable to find your edge again in the part of the practice that is now smooth and committed to muscle memory so you can refine and sort of wake up the beginners mind I suppose. That pushed everyone of my buttons. I was like, are you kidding me?? those few minutes of the standing and seated poses I can do easily is what I count on to sustain me through the other 90 minutes of I wonder what’s going to happen!! The other post talked about the rough patches that you encounter along the trajectory of your practice and how not to get discouraged or end up walking away. It basically said that you had to  freely give and offer your efforts day in and day out until you no longer care if there is a reward or a secret power to discover. You practice generosity with your efforts, the way you practice generosity with your time, with your money or with your patience in many other areas of your life. You give and do not stand around waiting for the lollipop.

So It’s True

After writing, talking, thinking, and wondering about yoga, One reaches a point where there is really nothing left to say or discuss or read. They only thing left is: Do. Which in some circles is considered a platitude, as in “do your practice and all is coming.” Apparently after something full of common sense and proven true through actually doing it is said too many times, it becomes a free to diss quote? Or after several thousand times of hearing “….Lazy people can’t do yoga” the statement now becomes hyper analyzed and deconstructed in ways that a person who has never opened a Derrida book like me finds incomprehensible and almost redundant. I say this I repeat as someone who is not an academic, has zero credentials in the area of philosophy, sociology, or whatever else you need to understand deconstruction or the minute analysis of the concept of lazy or the concept of do. I mention this impatience with this dialogue here in my blog because why else have one? You don’t have to agree with me and also you don’t have to convince me if you think that do your practice and all is coming or only lazy people can’t do yoga are either trite or overly dogmatic (those seem to be tho two most popular objections). I just happen to think that Guruji very obviously pointed out that if you practice,  degrees of improvement and progress are certainly a logical outcome, and that if you are lazy and decide not to practice, then you didn’t. That is called you can’t do yoga that day. If you keep on making that decision daily or frequently then you can’t do yoga. Yes, nobody wants to be called lazy, and does anybody really want to be lazy? If you do not want to do something and it is optional don’t do it and find something else that does not provoke that reaction. I was very correctly reminded that people with depression are unable to do yoga or even get out of bed. I don’t think That Guruji meant to say that people with crippling mental illness could do yoga if they just changed their mood or attitude. I think he would also have made exceptions for those experiencing the grief of losing a loved one, people with concussions, and for those with a really bad case of diarrhea (but only if it was really bad, I bet). So after going through more than 150 comments about this Lazy quote on a Facebook thread, I finally believe what many bloggers already discovered: there is nothing left to say. Let’s just do what we think is beneficial, as best and as often as we possible can.

How to Spend it

Serious question. It involves prioritizing time and money. And I know the answer. I am fortunate to have the chance to partake from the following: Sharath in NYC during mid September. A week of led primary at $250 no day passes and more than one hundred people at the Chinatown YMCA. Louise Ellis Workshop at my dear friend Kristen Albertson’s Shala in Fayetteville, Arkansas also in mid September, and Tim Miller at my shala in Georgetown, CT in October. I am not one of those who has cash for all three, and as you can see you need special siddhis to simultaneously partake of the Sharath and Louise workshop. I have experienced the strong and lovely energy of practicing in the presence of Sharath and Saraswati. What you are attending is not a workshop or an opportunity to refine your asana practice. It is another thing that is definitely not about the $250 price and you either know what I mean or you disregard as you please. Ever since I found out about Louise, I have had this strong desire to study with her, in the same way that I wanted to study with Nancy and Dena. Having been in both their workshops at AYC, I hope to study with them again in a smaller venue which is what Ashtanga Yoga Fayetteville offers with Louise. Then there is Timji, my teacher’s teacher, the teacher of so many other teachers I respect. To me his visit is a vivid, vibrant expression of parampara. So, for now my available pennies are on Louise. My resolution is to save some  more for Tim’s October visit, and pay my respects to Sharath and Saraswati when there are no scheduling conflicts.

The Ashtangi Spectrum

Read on if you are not fed up with how I use this blog as my confessional. Ashtangis are travelers. They travel far and often. We travel to learn more yoga, we travel to gain perspective, we travel because we enjoy it, and many of my fellow Ashtangis travel for business as part of how they earn their livelihood. My friend Laura Shaw Feit who is a graphic designer was able to document the Ashtangi travel bug in her runways poster entitled Just Practice. These people roll their mats and step on them in tiny hotel rooms, laundry rooms, and narrow hallways. Me? I roll it out when I travel to see family & friends, and while doing yoga tourism. I do pretty well when I go to Maine in the summer, but send me for almost three weeks vacation through Spain and France, while watching the World Cup on European time, and all bets are off. Day one, no problem. Rolled the rug I bought and ditched it for the carpet but I did my practice. That was three Sundays ago. I ditched my routine for Campari and sodas while watching the 6 and 10 PM matches when possible. That meant that my bedtime was way past midnight every day. The next morning nothing was more delightful than having a cortado or two and roscones with my daughter while in Spain and cafe au lait with hot croissants slathered in apricot preserves and bloomy Saint Felicien cheese while in France. Apricots are in season this time of year and my host Nadine made those preserves as a welcome gift. Our hosts own a vineyard in Estagel, and they host wine tasting tours that include an afternoon fete after touring the vineyard. Since we were staying in a part of the house where the feast takes place, we were always invited. The tours are organized by restaurant owners, butchers, and food purveyors from Toulouse, so you can imagine how we scored in the foodie department. I also bummed a cigarette the night Brasil stole the game from Colombia and decided to keep on going every evening after that. So yeah, about 16 days of no practice. This morning I did not reach a single bind. Not even Mari A, but I finished my practice. I also will mention that not a single body part ached or hurt during the entire time I ditched practice, I slept late and I slept well (no sulfites in EU wine), but you know what? if you practice Ashtanga for long enough you realize that you don’t do it to feel terrific or pain free. Something always hurts. You don’t do it for the man arms or the perky butt, at some point nothing perks up without additional help. You don’t do it because it settles your mind, just notice how our mind rambles on and on about when to do asana, how to eat, sleep and prep for it. You do it because you are in love. You are in love for the long run even if you falter. Corinthians 13:4-8 comes to mind. “Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud….”

No Touching

Because I was very slow to diagnose what has been a progressing case of poison ivy. Thank goodness because the first few blotches looked like bug bites and the paranoia in my head was saying that I brought them in from my last stay in the city. I  sort of figured it out when my skin started to burn like hell when I started to sweat during practice and I had to close soon after starting seated. On the way out I showed some friends who helpfully told me it was poison ivy and to go get something called Tecnu. Tecnu smells vile, poison ivy is contagious, and I look like I’ve been bitten by bed bugs, so this is no way to show yourself in public.  Thankfully I received no adjustments so nobody touched this mess. So home practice it is. I’m hoping that I I will be able to stop by on Friday before I leave for Europe that evening.Iit will be my last practice at the shala until September!

Anatomical Expertise

This is probably not an interesting post for someone who is doing third series or has that as a pragmatic goal. I have been paying attention to the conversation over on facebook about avoiding and preventing yoga injury. Some of you already know that instead of  learning both, I chose  between learning the Sanskrit  count & names of asana or the names and location of those pieces of raw flesh called muscles. Ekam!!  I went that way maybe because if I hear or read about injuries to specific body parts, mine start hurting too. The disadvantages to being compassionate but not courageous. I also pretend to bless myself to remember left from right, so definitely a career in physical therapy was not in the cards for me. I am fortunate to be the student of a person who is a former Olympic athlete, has a college degree in Modern Dance, and has 20 years of ashtanga practice under her belt with both common sense and devotion towards parampara. Some of my fellow students, work in the field of massage therapy, and as far as I know,  there is also an MD who comes occasionally and was fortunately practicing the day I broke O’s nose during headstand a couple of years ago. My teacher is currently traveling, and there are fellow students of hers who I’m pretty sure have 200 and 500 and whatever is next YA TT documents, assisting us and each other during Mysore practice. The feeling of warmth, support, belonging, and community is palpably spiritual in the room- to me at least.  If a brand new student walked in at this time, they probably would do their Sury As and Bs in a gentle manner, close and go home uninjured.  This is not a shala that has 50 people every morning, more like a steady 25 sometimes less sometimes more. We have all made hamstring mistakes, shoulder stupidities, and brought knee problems from a previous lifestyle. But we recover and remember what did us in and try not to rescind. Most areas of my life work more or less in that manner, with my family, my former job or my creative projects. I try something while I learn how to do it. I have burned food, broken and ripped things, offended people, given bad instructions, Some stuff I could not fix. I am not saying knowledge of anatomy is not important or desirable in teaching asana. I am saying that it is no more important than it’s role in other movement based activity whether it be for work, recreation, or therapeutic and spiritual goals. Sometimes I get the feeling that we tend to dampen a joyful and challenging activity they way some parents advise the correct use of the monkey bars, the slide, and the swings in the playground, or the correct way to build the sand castle.

On My Mind

I just figured out a way to jot down things that I am wondering about but do not feel like writing an entire post ( in my case 8 sentences or so) about.

I decided to ditch the India/Saraswati idea for October after reading about “How rape is sometimes right” courtesy of  State Minister Babulal Gaur. I just don’t feel like encouraging the tourist/visitor industry to think that: -they will come anyway after this all blows off. I saw a photo of those two girls hanging from a tree. There, I said it. Yes, I understand that India is a huge country and Bangalore/Mysore is not the same as other places but this is the only way I can think of protesting the status quo and expressing solidarity.

#WAWADIA. In Canada there is an outgoing discussion about yoga and injury- What Are We Actually Doing In Asana. There is a clip on youtube with a fraction of the conversation. Matthew Remski shared a bit of it on Facebook. I know  that having a body for a home requires some housekeeping/maintenance, but I never imagined that what I thought was the housekeeping part required maintenance too???!! This is definitely a first world problem, and yes I realize that I am not giving this topic the depth or width it deserves when we speak of  practitioners whose life calling and livelihood are linked to the teaching and demonstration of asana.

Finally, quick question: I bought a travel rug to take on a long vacation. If any of you use one, how wet do you have to get this thing for it not to move around? I am assuming all shalas have spray bottles? Because if I have to carry my own, this purchase was pretty stupid, huh?