Communion

Like communing with community, not the catholic sacrament.  I really wish I could attend the festivities at The Broome Street Temple today. I have been practicing by myself for two months and really miss the silent presence of my fellow ashtangis. It kills me that I will be just a few blocks away celebrating one of my niece’s birthday, and as a family we are circling the wagons for the long haul. Any opportunity to huddle together is now precious. I bet that this evening’s puja is nicely attended but not elbow to elbow because labor day weekend.  Gotta say that those lonely 108 Om Gam Ganapatayeh Namaha’s did put quite a strong wind on my sails this morning. Below is maybe my favorite  Illustration.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

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Technicalities

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.

Well This Is A First

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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?

 

Faith In Your Practice

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 I took a photo of this 12th century column in the city of Perpignan, France this summer. I thought it was very fitting that an ancient, sturdy, firm and aligned column had the name Garrigue name on it. I always appreciate the notes David Garrigues shares on Facebook and through his blog. Today he wrote for quite a bit about faith and refueling in general. The last paragraph was the poem below. If there was ever a need to remind yourself of why you practice in writing, use  your very best penmanship and write yourself this little note to hang or pin by your practice space.
“How soon do you forget what you just learned in practice? Almost immediately How soon does doubt replace faith? Almost immediately How soon is meditation replaced by distraction and scatteredness? Almost immediately How soon is the bright fire you kindled during practice diminished to a faint glow in the hearth? Almost immediately, How soon is the wisdom you gain, even the deep wisdom covered by ignorance? Almost immediately There it is, But I and you begin again Almost Immediately”

The Real Goal Of Yoga

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.

Self Knowledge In Action

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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.

How I Finally Sleep Again

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.