This question always rolls around my brain like a marble whenever my practice is not making me pant (with a closed mouth of course) and the sweat is not stinging my eyes for whatever reason. How come I was given additional poses when still after 6 years of practice I cannot bind in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana? On either side. Same with Ardha Baddha PP, which I sort of had but it went away sometime around the end of 2012. Anyway, I always hear that when you go to Mysore you get stopped at the asana you cannot perform in it’s full expression. Doesn’t that mean that I should be doing just standing until I somehow get my act together? I want to make it clear that I am in no way second guessing my teacher, who probably knows my practice better than I do, since she can be more objective and has no whacky inner voice agenda whining away (about me anyway). It’s just that some days, today being one, I feel stupid from the minute I jump into the modified Bhuja, to the non existent Kurmasana & Supta K. I regain some dignity during rolling through Garbha P and manage to keep it going all the way until the who the hell knows how it’s going to go today in Setu Bandhasana. Closing is closing and I no longer fret about whether Sirsasana will ever materialize unassisted. I just want to say that the rolling marble in my head would like to know what type of practice would I be doing in a very traditional by the book mysore room. Maybe the marble is also rolling because Grimmly recently wrote about what Yoga Mala says on what asanas to practice when you are middle aged, which at 56 is somewhere past the middle.
Monday morning, easy 6 AM wake up no alarm needed. Feeling resolve, and planning to be very present in today’s practice because I skipped yesterday while fussing around Mag before we took them to JKF to begin the first leg of their journey to Kenya. Before starting, I took a photo of my almost spent fancy candle that is always a gift because nobody buys themselves a $60 dollar candle, no matter how good it smells. I finish my practice, get my second cup of coffee and check facebook, where I am reminded that today is a moon day!! I never forget a moon day. I start happy dancing like a couple of days in advance, planning drinks and maybe dinner with the husband or and with a pal, and looking forward to sleeping in. I guess if you are on day 25 of no booze, sugar or grains, that only leaves sleeping in, and if you wake up refreshed, rested and energized, you end up forgetting that life owes you a moon day. My friend S shared an interesting article from the Guardian on Sugar and it’s detrimental effects for our health. I have to say Mr. Lustig’s research and my experience when I’m off it, correlate. I also took this photo because I was thinking of Guruji, who must have been a teenager when my parents were born. I was thinking about how my parents were raised with physical discipline, spanking/yelling from both family and educators. Now we know that is not the best way. But I cut my grandparents and my parents some slack because they thought that it was supposed to be like that. My parents made corrections to the method and there was no hitting but lots of yelling. I have had mentors and teachers with faults and behaviors which hurt me. They did not just do that, they did some good stuff too. So if someone’s guru just died and only just got cremated, don’t rush to write a “critique” of his method, while news of his death is a hot topic. It should not be hard to wait just a bit, out of respect for people that loved him in spite of his temper, and his pedagogical mistakes. I understand that there are days when it is hard to find a relevant topic about our subject matter (yoga), but why not be willing to follow certain social conventions, such as a short grieving period before highlighting the warts?
I have read in more than one place that the real goal of yoga is learning how to die. I have also read that we must die many times before we really die. Funny, here I am dealing with the knowledge of the inevitable death of a loved one in the very near future, and doing anything I can not to do the yoga. I end up doing the yoga dedicating the practice to her, but not really knowing what that means or why I would be doing that. Am I asking for a miracle? Or a merciful death? Should I be asking for anything? Is dedicating really bartering? Live, reproduce, and die said my 5th grade science teacher back in the day. I never forgot that. Only we now add lets pump a truckload of chemo in you so I can see you open your eyes for one more day, even if you feel terrible. WTF. I really think we need to start a dignified death movement where nobody gets to project their needs onto the person who’s life is ending and no pharma or health bureaucracy gets to cash in. I’m sorry to throw this in here but I mixed up my private journal with this blog and I felt I had to explain why I deleted that entry.
A couple of things: No newspaper article or online article will tell you exactly how to go about taking care of your body and understanding how to move it and keep it free of harm.
Take for example Gretchen Reynold’s Well Blog in the NYT who tried to answer the question of whether yoga increased strength in practitioners. How easy it is to ignore that she started the answer by saying “In general…” followed by “The FEW available experiments…”Which kind of implies that this fact has been kind of poorly researched and given spotty attention maybe? So why pay so much attention to the answer? Does it apply to you if instead of the one hour of ashtanga (half primary?) three times a week participants, you do an hour and a half 6 times a week? Don’t think so. What matters is knowing that after pretty regular practice for more than a few months, you observe in the mirror that you now have what some lady ashtangis refer to man arms even if you still have a huge butt and a big happy tummy because sattvic eating is still a mystery to you. What matters is knowing that while you were out of town you were invited to yoga class where they did Vashistasana and you find out that you now can do it when a couple of years back you could only do six seconds without putting down one foot. That is tangible research, not what Gretchen or I say.
Another example is the online post entitled 6 Reasons to Stop Obsessing About Alignment in Yoga which is making the rounds on Facebook. In this instance the blogger reveals what takes us all way to long to realize: everybody’s limbs are pretty unique, weird, and unpredictable. What your limbs agree to do one day they might totally refuse to do the next, as we all know from personal experience. This weekend I had to convince my husband that I could not climb or disembark from my new longer kayak the way he was instructed to and insists is the safest and correct way to do it. Yeah, for someone who is not five foot two, a 34 DD already, without the bulky life vest and with legs which are way shorter than her torso. I had to find an alternative way, and it required patience and getting wet. We have to modify in yoga without expectation, though I have found that through practice and perseverance the capacity to reach, sustain, balance, and bend, do improve without necessarily having BA in anatomical engineering with a minor in trigonometry.
Finally, could someone tell me if it should be worrisome that I received like 700 hits all from Great Britain on this blog yesterday? Not that I pay much attention to stats, but my average is around 75 a day.
I casually clicked on this NYT video last week and stumbled on ASMR. The good news is I am one of those few who respond to Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. The bad news is that I cannot sleep without listening to the girl with the Dutch accent who has no idea she is holding a Lilac bloom, and I know subscribe to her youtube channel. My second favorite is the Lego lady. Don’t judge me, I have not slept this well in years and hopping right to the mat is way easier now.
It might be seeing evidence of progress in reaching out for patience when things get stuck or malfunction. Maybe it takes six years of the yoga. Also, and feel free to laugh, this internet connection sometimes provides free good advice therapy and inspiration all in one tweet some days. For instance today, I read a tweet from cyber acquaintance fellow ashtangi Tony which said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I read this before reclaiming my tiny go cart that my daughter had been borrowing to go shopping for her own ride. It turns out she and her husband pulled on the emergency brake so hard this time, that I can’t push it back down and it is completely stuck. If I had done this before surfing the cybernets and finding that quote, my story for this would be- this is a symbol of what is happening to my life right now and the emergency brakes are always on and there is no emergency. Instead ,I remembered the twitter oracle and decided to wait until later to try again, or wait for Ray to give me some alternatives, or call Scion for my free 24 months roadside assistance if I decide it is necessary. I have also began exercising some patience with that extra breath I have to take before Astau in Sury B which I always feel embarrassed and guilty for taking, until I realized I was alone and it was not like I could do it without taking it and was not doing it on purpose. Which curiously enough, the person over at Cultfit wrote today about how we sometimes ruin our experiences by wanting to be in sync with the “crowd”. Yes, even when they are not in the same room. Stopping or slowing down do not equate to incorrect or bad. It is what it is.