You might know I really admire this young whippersnapper named Jason Silva. He has a show somewhere in TV land that I don’t watch, but he shares amazing stuff on his twitter feed. In case you thought I only moan about asana and the consequences of overeating and overboozing, I do sometimes take a minute to consider the why of existence. I am also considering re reading JPS’ B&N but this time I am not 19 just trying impress someone handsome. That’s how I ended up reading Atlas Shrugged, But that’s neither here nor there.
This is part two of a very fast paced but fascinating series. I have a strong hunch that this will not be one of my most viewed posts, but I really loved this. Must thank Nobel over at Yoga in the Dragon’s den for planting some interest in checking out Jason’s recommendation today.
You know how Buddhist practitioners speak of the good good fortune they have had in this lifetime to encounter the path and a teacher to guide them on that path? Well today I chanted Vande Gurunam with renewed fervor and immense gratitude. I read yesterday about a student who purchased the opportunity to learn Ashtanga having never practiced any yoga before, AND learn how to become an Ashtanga yoga teacher simultaneously!! Oh, and in only 12 sessions. It was quite expensive too, because it is a two for one service and with 12 sessions it is also what they call an “intensive?”. I don’t know if this is a fair comparison, but when I decided that I might be able to teach others reading and math, I already knew how to read and I sucked at math but I had found out why and could prevent others from sucking. I don’t think a person that does not know who to lets say swim, or lets say drive thinks they can learn and teach that skill simultaneously. Now I will mention the third Yama, because as I understood the story, this student reconsidered this outlandish offer and tried to get a refund but apparently Asteya has a different meaning in the business side of the yoga business. I will say it again, it is our good unearned fortune to have come across a teacher who follows a lineage and understands with humility what they have chosen to do.
I broke my 14 day Jaime Tan inspired vegan mostly raw routine to celebrate meeting the fabulous Sonya Wilcox in Manhattan yesterday. No surprise, I found her to be as enjoyable and authentic as I imagined. I tend to arrive ten minutes early to everything, whether it is a root canal or a party, so I ordered a Negroni while I waited followed by a single glass of rose with dinner(I know!). So I felt a little foggy this morning. As I was walking to prepare my lemon water I looked at the window shield of my parked vehicle and said hell no. I am not scraping ice off a window until next November. I stepped into a hot salt bath and then did a bady lady practice with blocks for standing poses, sitting poses, jumping back and forths, and even back bending, combined with the back bending cube that keeps my elbows from splaying. Now I am back downstairs enjoying that second cup of coffee and watching it all melt away.
I sometimes sound like a witchdoctor trying to figure out the ingredients and the circumstances that produce a joyful practice. It is probably only an open heart &mind that is needed, but we all love a recipe/formula don’t we? Here is the latest one from me: 72 degree moderately moist weather + 14 consecutive days of mostly raw grain & dairy free vegan nutrition + an understanding that fear is to be felt NOT prevented or avoided like a bad attitude. Duh. And a little inspiration does not hurt. All over the internets there is this story of Karen Cairns from KY who started practicing at 56 years old ( I’ll be 56 in May) and just received authorization. I feel as proud of this stranger as if she was my own sister or my room mate from college, or my neighbor form back home. So grateful for her example. It reminded me of this quote:
Do you want to have a quantifiable idea of what thoughts occupy the most real estate in your brain? Organize your bookmarks. I have several years worth of random bookmarks that I have kept a secret from both my daughter and husband for fear of horrifying them and activating their judgyness. Even a time wealthy person like me reaches a point where being a collector of information is becoming an euphemism for hoarder! So yesterday I decided to become a curator of information. That was after I banged the ball of my left foot really hard against the edge of a step on my stairs right where it meets the toes and now I cannot press down to push the accelerator or engage me newly found kneecaps. Here I am sitting with my foot slathered in arnica and covered with a sock wondering if anybody else has several folders with titles that contain the word recipes. Here are the top 5 categories:
1. Recipes: In the thousands
2. Yoga related articles & websites: In the hundreds
3. Yoga video tutorials: In the hundreds
4. Restaurant tips and reviews: In the hundreds
5. Travel ideas: in the tens.
The rest are random blogs, gardening info, the apocalypse, Meditation& sitting practice info. and news outlets. You know of course I am not fessing up to everything right? So far the only bookmark I have deleted was a Quora tip on how to parallel park more efficiently because my car is so tiny it is no longer an issue.
I was almost distracted by how well the second half of my practice was going this morning. I kept thinking wow, this is amazing, There is after all something to that castor oil bath, or maybe it is that paleo raw hybrid thing I’m doing that is giving me all this energy. Or, finally I’m getting this Sthira Sukham Asanam hang of things. By back bending I am doing only one half bridge and 4 UD instead of the two/three ratio I usually get away with and my brain is thrilled. Closing is actually spent slowing my breath for real and I am virtually more than two inches off the ground in Utpluthi. As I am congratulating myself on how well my commitment to good diet and and steady dry brushing, daily massage, pranayama, bla, bla bla, is paying off, I remember that I completely skipped Navasana. That is the secret ingredient.
One of my favorite things about indulging in a 10 AM led class is that you get to hear some of the teacher’s thoughts on the practice in the form of advice, reflection, or whatever else you might want to call it. I am not the only one to marvel on how relevant they are to what is currently transpiring in my daily practice. It really is uncanny how she starts talking about what you need to hear. Need, not necessarily what you want or like to hear. So I’m hearing how mysore practice fosters independence and responsibility. How silence and not a whole lot of verbal cues activate other ways of listening to yourself and it enhances other ways of communicating with the teacher. I am nodding yes at all of this. I am also nodding yes when I hear that we don’t need to be adjusted every day or all the time so we can learn to sort things out by paying attention and figuring how to overcome our own obstacles. Then I hear that Mysore practice is like learning how to move from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat. Well. One of the reasons why I love cosmopolitan cities is public transportation. Not because I have a BA in Human Ecology or because I used to be a City Planner for the NYCTA, No. It is because I love being a passenger!! Okay, I also love walking. A 3 mile walk for me is like a 3 block walk to the convenience store for most people. So certainly for very deep down there reasons that need to be sorted out, I kind of hate being the driver. And please don’t get me wrong, I like being in charge. I love love being in charge of hiring or choosing a driver or an accountant, or a tree cutter, or a zombie exterminator, or any other expert at the things that I suck at. I know what teacher meant and I agree with her very good suggestion. I am just confessing that the way this analogy makes me feel is as if one of you heard that Mysore practice is for learning to be the plane pilot instead of the passenger. Lot’s to work on as you can see, so all the more reason for not being in any rush whatsoever.