At 7:00 AM I attended the best led class I have ever been to. Dena Kingsberg settles you in with a guided meditation which is a combination pep rally and motivational therapy session. Then she proceeds to give the best play by play verbal cues, AND count through the entire primary series including each and every vinyasa. I swear it felt like a private even though there must have been a hundred of us there. The bad news is that I continue to have an upset stomach. Adding to that, I seem to be allergic to the carpeting or the cleaning fumes in this fine ballroom and I literally want to scratch my eyes out. I would also like to add some etiquette advice here. Please leave your shoes outside like the rest of us. Please don’t put them in front of my mat , especially if you have a potent foot odor problem and i have to smell it during every forward bend and chaturanga.
So for two hours each teacher talks about the Sutras. Yes they do. They are tired. I am tired. Dena has been using her voice non- stop since 7 AM this morning and towards the end an adoring student asked her to chant
some sutras on that beautiful lilt of hers. For a minute there I thought she might cry. But all these teachers are nothing but gracious and humble so she led us all in chant.
So, back to the very condensed version of affairs that is the usual around here:
Dena: Guruji always said that we do Patanjali yoga. If you need clarification/ answers, read them. Often. Of course they will only make sense if you experience the limbs in your Sadhana. The first 4 sutras are key because it is the first real clue that what your mind blathers about is not the only reality. Big hints for success in sutras 1-12 a d 1-14. Do this a loooooong time with no interruption and your chances for success are quite good.
Tim: he decides to go with the obstacles to yoga with vivid and candid examples from his own life. In his words, “what makes chitt hit the fan”.1) dullness- ill health along with a detailed description of the physical symptoms of hepatitis in your bodily functions.
2)Stagnation: lack of flow and movement. Breath synchronized with movement fixes that.
3) self Doubt- ashtanga empowers if you trust the method.
4)impatience/sloppiness- what happens if you leave the present moment. the sound of breath brings you back. Vinyasa keeps you in the now.
5) laziness. If you haven’t quit yet you know what fixes that.
6) excess/overindulgence- this was quite good but you kind of had to be here.”after a perhaps problematic mysore practice in the am with no adjustments followed by boring lectures you decide to reward yourself with a nice dinner and because you feel sorry for yourself you order something fried plus dessert, and a nightcap at the bar where you meet someone interesting and end up getting very little sleep that night.” Yeah, that’s an obstacle. I did not do this justice by the way.
7 )cloudy perspective and not receiving wisdom. Here he started making fun of Richard because of the crazy amounts of knowledge he has accumulated and at this point I am laughing to hard to take notes.
8)disconnection/not well grounded- the most fertile ground for back sliding.
9) mental instability- lack of Tristana and the source of all the previous obstacles.
Here I Fell Asleep and just woke up. Richard’s presentation “mulabandha Is not what you think” started 25 minutes ago.
Maybe it is time to do shorter less packed conferences? I turn 56 next Sunday. You know you are run down when you have charmed the concierge with your foodie mania but you cannot take advantage of the special treatment he is so kindly giving you. I am canceling reservations for the second night in a row.
Okay. Back to the sutras. Sorry to give Richard David and Manju the short end of the stick here.
Richard: the sutras give Ashtanga context. We don’t just do the 3rd limb. He talked about how some ancient yogis got sidetracked by the siddhis and forgot about Kaivalya and Moksha. Pretty similar to todays yogi who gets sidetracked by the admiration of their abs/pecs/ youtube hits (uh-oh :D). The sutras are helpful reference for when you start waking up and you might misinterpret some of your realizations. Right here he gave an epic comparison to how the Vayrajana path should be followed without skipping over the Mahayana path that was worth the price of the 3 day workshop, so this is where you all wish you had come because I just don’t have the skills for a fair share.
David: you can quote the sutras with perfect pronunciation and your life can still be a mess. Most people don’t come to yoga looking for Patanjali they come looking for the yoga butt and then find Patanjali. This is when Richard’s prophecy ” yoga ruins your life” occurs. The sutras cause you to ask questions, they create the desire for self study. Be content to accumulate questions, people who accumulate and flaunt answers are an annoying pain in the butt.
Manju: having Guruji be both parent and teacher meant that learning the sutras was equivalent to living the sutras. No room for doubting no room for laziness. He also spoke of Indian practitioners not flaunting their yoga practice or their knowledge of yoga texts. He gave an example of being often asked why women in India don’t do yoga to which he responds: how do you know that? Because you don’t see them in a leotard?? People do their practice but don’t talk endlessly about it ( note to self here) he asked us to try practicing with no expectation of admiration attention clapping or astonishing results. If you focus you know where you are. If you do not notice progress it is probably because you are not there to notice it. Before being asked to chant both Dena and David added that the famous quote “all is coming” means all. Like be ready. All sorts of good things, hard things, weird things, and if you do your practice you can handle them all. Here a student asked Richard to explain the difference between no self and true self. I’ll stop to let you contemplate the scope of that request. He graciously gave a general non condescending answer and very tactfully mentioned how many pages and pages of references you would get if you typed Atman or Anatta in a search engine.
That’s all folks. Sorry about Mulabandha.
1. The pools and hot tubs in this darned hotel are going to be nothing but distractions. I am already scheming on how to play hooky if the conference/ lectures are shall we say “spontaneous/free association/unplanned”.
2. The swag bag or whatever you call it is a recyclers nightmare. A bunch of coupons you don’t need plus a bunch of squirty type snack/baby food and 3 magazines full of adds featuring teacher trainings and nutrition supplements.
3. Unreasonable me has already decided that it’s not the same without Eddie Stern. I might and hope to take that back in two and a half hours.
4. I have the impression that the folks from The Confluence Countdown are skipping this year. Is that auspicious? I don’t think so :D
5. Next workshop I attend better be catered and self contained. It cannot be a block from Nobu, Taco trucks, Mozza, Roy’s, and all the hard to get west coast oysters you cannot find back home. I don’t have this problem, but if you like craft beers you might be joining me in WTF?
6. I am going to have to comply to the internet hotel shakedown. The ” free” internet in the public spaces is a joke and my AT&T plan is not going to last the weekend. If there was ever a metaphor for “Merica” being left behind in technology it is the hotel wi-fi shakedown.
7. If there is a place in the Universe where the gods or the rewarded dwell, it has San Diego weather.
8. The 5 people I have met so far are all from Texas and they are here because of David Swenson. He should get comission.
9. As you can see nothing has really happened yet, I was just itching to blog.
My friend Michelle Ryan shared this yesterday and it covers pretty much everything you need to know to keep practicing without deluding yourself. It is one of the best things I have ever read about yoga. Her other posts are not too shabby either.
I read this article this morning http://www.everydayayurveda.org/live/ayurveda-political-practice-part-one-economic-justice which is day four of a self prescribed Ayurvedic cleanse based on an evaluation I was given a couple of years ago, so reading this piece was nothing but timely. Matthew writes long and hard, but if you quit reading, it would be because it starts to feel a bit uncomfortable to see that like me, we might be acquiring knowledge of our dosha, our blood type, our body shape, our astrological sign, and our ethnic ancestry to hoard/shop for permanent, constant, unchanging, optimal health and well being. That is not the only point, or even the most important point he makes here. I could not do this cleanse, commute for 2 and a half ours, teach for 7 hours, and come back to cook and do laundry. Heck, I’ve had to do my practice at home because of the unexpected dashes to the loo. So I guess that you have to schedule your health tune ups to replace your already scarce leisure time if you are a working stiff.
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 probably know we all have been reading David Garrigues’ post on perfection. Maybe you also happen to read Chris Courtney’s Yoga for Perfectionists over at yoganonymous.com. They appeared on my FB news feed on the same day. Maybe you should not be reading the opinions on perfection from someone who started her practice around 10:45 AM today, but here are my two cents. Desire for perfection (or any other damn thing/situation) comes from unmet needs. Why do you want perfection (in this particular instance)?? Be careful how you answer that because I have recently discovered that as soon as we give ourselves permission to go after what we want most of us realize we don’t actually know exactly what we want. Maybe you do so in that case proceed. Perfection becomes a non issue when there is a foundation of self trust. Trusting your impulses without judgement determines whether any learning or improvement project is going to be approached as war against the faulty self or as a discovery that transforms the already pretty good self. Notice how much practice it takes to use the term pretty good on yourself honestly. In public. Anyway, I just noticed that one post was approaching desire as benign and the other was noticing desire as compulsion. Perfection can be sought through war against the self, or through peace with the self. My guess is both get it done. Only one way with less carnage.
I suggest that you check to see how I filched everything here from Charles Eisenstein’s chapter on Struggle from his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.
This one http://yogarose.net/2014/02/14/role-led-ashtanga-classes/
and this one http://matthewremski.com/wordpress/update-2-what-are-we-actually-doing-in-asana-questions-questions-questions/
Convince me that the teacher to student transmission is to be done as individually and as gradually as possible. These two conversations also convince me that even though the student might think that they are choosing a teacher, it is really the teacher who decides to say yes to the responsibility of teaching that student. They also convince me that a group environment is never the optimal environment to transmit any kind of knowledge. Ask any elementary school teacher about their regrets about teaching large groups. Again we revisit the unrealistic and idealized notion that makes us believe that learning movement is to be free of mistakes that are categorized as mistakes because pain was felt, when it is in fact that pain which was the indicator for correcting and re directing course. I am a yoga student who knows for sure that she does not want to be a yoga teacher, so I write without the authority or credentials that a yoga teacher might have with respect to injuries and their relationship to the focus (or lack of focus) on alignment, etc. I do speak as someone who had to watch a toddler learn to walk and get banged up in spite of baby proofing the joint up the whazoo. I also speak as someone who has seen others make painful mistakes that they were warned to avoid by someone with knowledge and excellent teaching skills. So, optimize the learning environment and the learning conditions all you want, you gifted, concerned, well meaning and generous teachers. But please don’t believe that pain proofing the environment is a gold standard indicator of good teaching.
…To all the bloggers that have posted videos, conference notes, Instagram photos, snippets of their daily routines, from Mysore. It really is a community service and it is much enjoyed not just appreciated. Today was a particularly sumptuous feast of all of the above.
I am also enjoying all the sharing of interviews and teacher posts, and humor filled clips that have been appearing in the interwebs these past few days. Everybody’s practice is valuable and benefits our world.
I’m on my way home. I hopped on the Q17 at Kissena Blvd and hopped off on Flushing Ave., caught a #7 to Grand Central, and am now on MetroNorth heading to New Canaan. Can you tell that I’m a public transportation geek? The trip to the Ganesh temple in Queens was to start at eleven am but the bus finally appeared around what’ 12:45? Not too bad. In the meantime I learned from Robert Moses that my home altar should be in the northeast corner of a room and that it must be woken up and put to bed daily, not just when I practice at home. Oops. The bus ride was free of bad traffic and I sat next to a fabulous woman named Anna who volunteers and practices at the Broome Street Temple. Once we got there, we left our shoes outside, and I do mean outside like by the sidewalk. The temple was beautiful and full of families dedicating and I could hear priests chanting. I felt like a complete interloper, sort of interrupting peoples’ rituals just by walking around and looking. I maybe spent 15 minutes there. It was a wonderful 3 day workshop because I did not really retreat from the world, with lovely hospitality from the entire community at Eddie’s shala. Maybe I should have told someone that I knew my way back home from Queens? Nah! It’s not like it was a school trip with a head count right? ( former teacher shudders and feels guilt).