So useful to read and re evaluate again what you think you already know. This started by wanting to refresh a little knowledge before traveling to India in October, but it has turned into listening to other smaller booklets, pamphlets, links and articles I have saved. I know I am not the only one who has found daily practice incredibly hard this winter. Repeating to myself you only have to do 3 As and 3 Bs has saved me from not practicing. Goodness knows what stories I would be telling you and myself for not practicing if I had to still get my ass to work outside the house in this weather. It is not just the cold and the bad driving conditions and the lack of sunlight that is throwing curve balls at me ( I don’t even know what that means. Trick balls? I never chased or caught balls well anyway). It is realizing that I am at the intersection where progress in asana is defined by the poses I get to keep instead of the poses I might be given in the future. You know how we all see ourselves as the same kid/teen/20 year old in our heads? I always thought if I loose weight, and never drink again, and take glucosamine, and amp up my pranayama and suck up my bandhas while I fold the laundry the impossible poses will be accessible to me. But no. I know there is a lady in Kentucky who started in her late 50s and received authorization in her 60’s. I am going to guess she was not talking about how Winstons and Kents tasted awful compared to Marlboro reds and Camel filters at age 12. I am not saying I cannot be like her because I did that. I cannot be like her because the samaskaras I have to work keep being those kinds to this day. I listed to Claudia interview Matthew Sweeney yesterday and he had an interesting take on access to Mula Bandha. He said resolving certain aspects related to appetite and other root chakra “issues” is a precondition to finding it. Makes sense to me. I also saw an FB post today on my feed where David Garrigues shuts down the fantasy that you surely one day drop back or lower yourself to chaturanga like what you see on youtube if you started at 45. I thanked him for making that realization available to me. I was glad when I asked myself if I wanted to continue practicing ashtanga if I was not going to make asana progress and I (mentally) shrugged and said sure. I now know for sure that standing on the mat makes what my cyber friend David Cain describes as “the sky has fallen a million times already” an occurrence instead of a disaster. He follows with the following advice: Being overwhelmed comes from a breakdown of your thoughts NOT the breakdown of your PRACTICE( okay he said your life). He finishes by saying “Things change pretty quickly when you start DOING things instead of thinking so much”. I’m also pretty sure that in my case it still means asana because he also mentions that “it is most tempting to not do things when you most need to do things.” So between re reading a post he wrote on Raptitude back in 2013 and the house recommendations from AY Ann Arbor’s Angela Jamison, I get to hang in there until spring!
…Is not something you can call me. Even though after thousands of years of evolution, my nervous system still cannot tell the difference between being torn apart by a saber toothed tiger instead of just visiting my parents for 72 hours, I continue to choose freeze instead of flee. I am making peace with this choice instead of being constantly disappointed by it. They say our identities are a result of a finely crafted cocktail of biology and culture. My bartenders raised me in a culture where the recipe was a loose variation of impress others but don’t make it look hard, and never change. It was so confusing that a promptly (before I turned 10 even) lost any desire or imperative to be anything in particular. I did not know the term fuck it then, but I was saying exactly that. These days I believe it is called surrender, and all of a sudden it is a good thing. I marvel at all these type A pals of mine, with which I get along with stupendously I might add, trying to ease up and coast, and I wish we could barter. I could use some type A and they could use some FTS and walk away. Calmly. Because that is the trick. You cannot be all hyper and guilty and over explainy about walking away. It is shudder for a sec, and then sit an listen to the judgements with blocking aids at first but later it really becomes equanimity, I promise. So how is this about yoga you might ask. Well in the case of yours truly here, the only way to practice and be friends with people who are mostly yoga teachers or should be, is being comfortable with not having or not being. Yesterday I had many maintenance related tasks to do in order to have an up to date and organized existence. I ditched it all to read, and later on make this:
It was only fun because I sincerely said FTS to chores, to following the convoluted geometric directions I found on line, and used markers so I would not have to clean up. Maybe not even remotely related, but some of you might want to read that Patty Smith interview on Medium. and this too, because it was what sort of got me going on about calmly performing FTS with sincerity and devotion.
The first time I traveled by myself for an extended period of time, my dad gave 17 year old me an Amex card and the business card for the Colombian Cultural something or another at the embassy in Paris. He said that if I ever was in a bind to try the Amex office first. This was when a long distance call was so expensive that it had better be real authentic trouble if you called home. Now a days we all travel without needing to know anybody in particular when we venture far, even though my dad always says that my sister and I were chumps for not attending a school that had a club in key cities. (he is a Cornell dude). Now though, I feel like I do have a club or a center that welcomes me wherever I go. Every time I enter a Mysore room I feel comfortable within the first 5 minutes tops. The teacher and I know someone in common almost every time, and sometimes you see someone from a previous part of your life who happens to have found the practice too. I just spent a short frigid weekend in Portland Maine which is on my way every time I travel Downeast but end up passing way too early to stop and practice (but not too early not to load up on bagels and pastries, hum..) I always wanted to visit Studio 72 on India street and finally got the chance. My yoga buddy KG used to practice there and says beautiful things about the place and the teacher. This is by far the tiniest shala I have ever visited. It is also the prettiest shala I have ever visited, and I visited the former Jois Yoga in Greenwich. Jennifer Morrison welcomes you with a smile and a very efficient sign up sheet that doubles as a release form and she then asks if there is anything she needs to know about your limitations or your practice. I mentioned a sore neck these days and later on, I do not know how, she fixed it/released the kink with two adjustments: One in Pada Hastasana, and another in Prasarita C. I could only stay for 30/40 minutes because we had some appointments, but I do plan to forgo the bagels for the practice next time I swing by because this is the other thing: the rest day is Sunday so they are open on Saturdays! I knew the bagels could not be the only reason, but I just figured it out as I wrote. The other two cool things that happened were that I found my college buddy Becky in the room practicing and I had with me a blanket/shawl she had brought for me from Bali 33 years ago! We have plans for chai next time. And it was valentines day, so Jennifer had homemade heart shaped cookies for her students. and a hug. I am an old damn hippie and I love a proper hug that doubles as hand shake, fist bump, and anything else that conveys that you were liked solely on a hunch and intuition.
But first, I don’t know where else to share the things that the internet provides to keep me in a happy spot:
“I was not 100% sober at the State of The Union Address” Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“You aren’t testing the practice, the practice is testing you” David Garrigues
“Love doesn’t need anything” Byron Katie on Valentine’s Day
“Our practice is not to clear up the mystery. It is to make the mystery clear.”Michael Stone
“Single mother of four wins powerball” Jezebel
SO today, I am all psyched because it is not snowing, it is not 3rd Friday of the month, and I get to go to led primary with an opportunity to do a 30 minute sitting practice beforehand which is one of my favorite things of the week. It’s 5 degrees today and I have a little pressure on the side of my head but nothing too distracting. I have a bat sh#t crazy theory that my practice benefits from being at a certain side of the room, but today I for some reason decide that I am going to try acting sane, and choose the other side. By the time Trikonasana comes around, I cannot see straight from the migraine I have invited into my face. But, earlier this week I had told teacher that I was going to stay past half primary this Friday, and I don’t want too look like I’m backing out from what I said I would do, so I stay and suffer. I do stay past half primary but sitting on my butt with my eyes closed. I do some sort of back bending imitation and some fake closing, and out of nowhere teacher throws in some pranayama. I was so far gone that I don’t remember if it was before or after Savasana, but it made all the difference. I will remember to do a few rounds if a get afflicted in the future. She also chanted for us during Savasana. If you ever need to remember how it feels to be well cared for and safe, I hope you experience someone doing that (not a recording) for you someday.
I will be in Portland Maine this weekend doing some pretend house hunting, and some very real local eating at the awesome Vinland, and yes driving into the weekend blizzard because that is how he rolls.
I could have used path maintenance or route or road, but I like a nice hike on a well marked trail. They don’t stay like that if someone does not cut back overgrown brush and repaints the signs, and removes fallen logs and rolling rocks. I feel like that is what Gregor Maehle has done for me in the interview he gave for Claudia Azula Altucher’s podcast. I know that this is probably the 4th time that I have mentioned it in social media, but we really do re-hatch and re- visit the same same over and over when we blog about what some call “our yoga journey”. So when new knowledge or perspective comes along it is at least for me, kind of very exciting. They way I write will not do justice to all the themes that are covered in the podcast. But suffice it to say that if you got stuck in the obsessive maintenance and smooth running of your vehicle ( which is a skill and work ethic I both admire and envy) but you forget where it is you heading with it, his is a very generous and valuable reminder of where the markers are in case you misplaced the map or are have been winging it (which is just another way of arriving really). I listened to the podcast without having read Gregor’s book on meditation. It is on order and this one is not going into the kindle.
I probably would not be writing this if I did not have a case of cabin fever which has me wishing I had an SUV instead of a toy car. But maybe I’d be a bigger jerk if none of the stuff I am about to go on about bothered me.
You could dismiss what I am about to share with you thinking that I spend too much time online, but twenty years ago you’d be accusing me of too much time at the teacher’s lounge, or too much time by the coffee machine, or at the bar, or wherever the hell it was people talked about things before the internet.
First one: The recycled topic of can your yoga teacher be your friend. How about your Urologist? Can he be your friend? How about Monsignor? Or the janitor? It is okay to wonder if you are 20 and about to start your interactions with other professionals, other adults, bosses, patients, and bus drivers. Otherwise it is navel gazing at its worst. Yes you can be friends with someone who shows you what to do, knows more than you do, and you exchange currency with. Is it easy? No. Is it smoother for both sides if it is respectful laid back acquaintance and not soul buddies? You betcha. Should a blog entry tell you how to handle it? That’s what I thought.
Second one: This one will surely tell you I have not had a proper meal today yet. The very wonderful Peg Mulqueen asks a question that comes along every now and then into my periphery. She asks on FB in better and less abbreviated language why men in positions of leadership are less bitchy and mean to women, and why women do not support but instead compete for the leftovers of the leadership. I will explain this in two ways, both of them mean and snarky because this one is a trigger for me. Lets say you give all your Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Kate Spade hand me downs to your housekeeper, in quantities she can even share with her friends and neighbors. But, you tsk tsk when you see two minimum wage people fighting for those bags at the thrift store or at Marshall’s. Yes you are not any less generous and open hearted, but it is not cool to judge the ladies whose only option of having what they want is competing at the thrift store. OR, or. you are cute/hot/or an awesome bass player and know all the cool bands. You are always on the list at the clubs and share that access generously with both friends and strangers. But, you look down at the girls groveling at the entrance for a chance to be let in. My very confused point here is- That men are always in the position of being those two, of having plenty of power and leadership even if they don’t care for it or want it. It is easy to be generous and not bitchy when you do not lack. I am not saying it is justified to be a nasty bitch, but please don’t say you don’t understand why that happens. time for a hashtag #proudfeminstwithloadsofbookshelvesfullofthisshit. Also, I’m 3 years away from 60, so I have heard women wonder about this a lot.
Last one: Amazon want’s your opinion about a new series called Down Dog. It is just awfully offensive, and unfortunately in some key parts spot on. So if you have amazon prime, you can go ahead and look to see what from now on your non-yogi friends and neighbors will think you do if this gets green lighted. If you live in California you are doubly screwed.
I’ll say this about winter, ice and snow: It will reinforce or destroy your practice. In my case, reinforce thank goodness, but I’ll tell you what, timing is everything because I know that two or three years ago? It would have totaled it. I then had an adolescent crush on the practice, the community, and the hype (Ashtanga is the true yoga, because parampara, the count, the Sanskrit, the invocation,the Nag Champa, bla bla bla). If I did not get reinforcement, I’d lose hope and would almost need to feel that my love and attention had to be reciprocated. This winter I am less anxious about being marked absent (as if!) at the shala, and more concerned with being present for whatever time period I am willing to be alone with what shows up during asana. I am also not surprised that 2105 being year 7 (you know it takes +- 7 years for the cells of your body to “regenerate”)is when I decided to blurt a yes to India, even though I am yet to say yes to Mysore. I have never been really comfortable sharing the thought of -why spend all that money if I’m going to be stopped at Mari D and I might never in this lifetime make it past Mari D? Which is still an embarrassing thought, but there you have it. I will always participate and pay my dues in order to benefit from my beautiful sangha/shala community but I am glad that I have progressed from crush to mature love affair which can be sustained without party tricks.