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.
So, as many solo practitioners already know, the rest day can apparently be whatever day as long as you show up on six of those seven days. I don’t know how many people saw a post form Ashatnga Yoga Copenhagen on Facebook where there was a shot of the new schedule over at what our friend Boodiba calls Command Central that states that from now on it does not open on Sundays or moon days. I went to visit the shala today before leaving for Maine and found out that 3 of my shala mates are leaving for Mysore tomorrow. The only thing I wanted to blurt out was Hey! do you know that the rest day is now on Sunday??? Fortunately I had a prudence attack and did not go back inside to tell N, or blab it online to my other friend who’s going. Why does even the most trivial of changes in Mysore seem like a thing for me, and some of us? It is at time like this that I see why some of my friends and family roll their eyes when I go on and on about this yoga.
I will learn how to read better soon. Thanks to Mel Perkins who translated for me I really avoided a bigger mess up. Prudence attack? pffft. Here is the photo I just stole from Ashtanga Yoga Copenhagen
Ugh. This post isn’t even about yoga. Steve over at the Confluence Countdown wrote a post about an answer he found on Quora with a response to the question of what it was like to go to Mysore. The guy gave a perfectly good answer but then the post continued on to describe an article in some Midwestern paper about Christian alternatives to yoga. Whatever. Same old same old, until the very last paragraph where the instructor being interviewed mentions that she also teaches “Mira”, a Christian form of Zumba. Never done Zumba. My sister in law Lynn tore her Achilles tendon doing Zumba. So yeah, dancing like yoga can eff you up but that is not what has me ranting on this possible end to the Kali Yuga beautiful Saturday. What has my lululemons in a bunch is realizing how deeply unaware of their racist and prejudiced judgements these yoga pose and dance practitioners are. A fellow native Colombian apparently “invented” Zumba. Most Latin Americans are so steeped in Catholic and Christian teachings that they could probably teach it to this provincial judgement loving lady (I am as you see riled up) and yes we dance moving our hips and those who are Christian remain so while moving them. Just like people in Senegal who are Christian remain so while dancing Mbalakh. I find it infuriating that a paper can interview a fool for more than three paragraphs and not realize they are printing the racist meanderings of a person with no perspective on global culture or religion while having access to the internet, hundreds of cable channels and heaven forbid, books.
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.
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.
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.