I know a bunch of you who practice alone either because you prefer it so or you are a teacher who needs to get their practice in before you put the proverbial oxygen mask on others. I am today however going to go on and on about how group practice dissolves all excuses, and self limitations. I have been repeating to myself for a number of years that my excess weight prevents me from performing certain asanas without modifications. Last fall (more or less) a cute shalamate with similar build and shape started practicing and she now rocks everything. From her chaturanga to her backbend. I also repeat the I started at fifty litany frequently when I get frustrated or chicken out of taking things to the next level. well there is someone who has a few more years on her than I do and now that she is retired she has made all arm balances into an art form. And then there is my teacher, for those who say that beautiful advanced practices are for people who forgo any other profession and endeavor or for pampered suburban fraus. My teacher does her practice, runs her shala, manages her home and runs her own family restaurant/artisanal bakery. So there goes that. Gang support, as many levels of society can attest, is a potent source of power. Next time I jot something down will probably be from San Diego, I’m looking forward to AYC, but to be honest I am at this point way more excited about lounging and dipping into the hotel pool.
Ashtanga, so famous for it’s ambitious type A practitioners. Infamous for causing strong sensations which may or not be labeled pain. Impressive when you watch an advanced practice, and even when you just watch a determined beginner. Most famous probably for *earning* or having to patiently wait to be given/taught/allowed another asana, or begin a new series. Most other classes might begin with the teacher asking “any requests?” Meaning any poses a student might like to include in the sequence. So, I think I am allowed to generalize by saying ashtangis have to be more vigilant than many other practices to stay in the present moment, because we are always committed to improving and refining. Thank goodness for dristhi and the sound of your breath because they are what keeps me and most of you in the now. There is nothing wrong with wishing to be better or being unsatisfied with the pace of progress, but it has taken me six years and a month to really understand that if I do not derive some pleasure and appreciation of what I can do now, today, this moment, what comes next gets either delayed, or it arrives when the conditions are unfavorable and you have to give it all back. I have done seven days of very very light practice. 15 minutes max. But I have enjoyed them in a fresh new way, experiencing contentment. A very unfamiliar feeling, which I can describe as satisfaction without the desire to critique or evaluate. I finish a ten day juice fast on Wednesday. I spaced out and scheduled a lunch tomorrow with a lovely friend that I have been looking forward to seeing. If you read this N, I hope you don’t mind that I sip herbal tea while you eat and we talk. “I don’t always finish a fast….” :D But when I do, sitting practice and sleep are beyond expectation!
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.
I had a non-alcoholic January and a semi-non -alcoholic February. I had a rather alcohol fueled March because every day that my daughter has been home has been like throwing a dinner party. She needed that, deserved it, and I enjoyed it. I had decided to clean up as they say this month in preparation to maybe learning something from those good people over at AYC in San Diego next May, and don’t you know that I am not the only one psyched about being dry in April? I discovered on twitter today that #DryApril is a thing! I will only make an exception sometime around the 15th when I have a dinner date with someone from Texas. Sounds like a 40 days and 40 nights kind of biblical thing, but in my case 39 because no way I turn down meeting someone awesome just to ocd on a being on a roll.
I had a very interesting short conversation the other day about control, ritual and routine. It will be no surprise to hear that all unofficial data points to ashtangis being a bunch of control freaks. Even the lazy ones like me. The illusion of having control over one’s daily existence is almost like a precondition for serenity, and what better way than starting it with the ritual of practice? It is not effortless like brushing your teeth or taking that shower, You are taking action like Krishna recommends. What happens when injury, helping someone during the time you ordinarily practice, or/and waking up groggy from the two glasses of sulfite strong wine you had with friends the night before, get in the way of that practice ritual? You mean after you scold yourself for not pre-planning /protecting the ritual? You either make it up later during the day (phew) or nag yourself in 40 or 90 minute intervals. Nothing wrong with any of that until you no longer need to do any of that because well, you don’t need to. That’s all. Yesterday was a combination of realizing that I was doing all of that, and having a really hard time not doing that. Even after having spoken with conviction the night before about the illusion of control, and wanting to follow through with taking the action of letting go, I didn’t let go. I woke up ashamed for not feeling well, annoyed that my daughter needed the car during the window where the shala is open for practice, and practicing handicapped and physically uncomfortable that afternoon. I have always nodded when I hear “I have never felt sorry to have done my practice”. But I will admit that what felt better yesterday was not the practice itself but that I did not break the appointment/ritual/agreement, not the practice itself. In other words, that I kept a semblance of control thank goodness. Today I am sitting with the feeling that it is 3rd Friday of the month and I strongly did not want to put myself through intro to 2nd while wanting to attend group meditation, but how odd would it be if I just drove for that. I am also sitting with the impulse of doing penance by driving up to an 11 AM led class, while it would be perfectly fine to do a laid back primary at home today. Now that is a difficult practice: Feeling peaceful about feeling unsettled, and getting there without your calming ritual or your usual go to replacement. That unfortunately also takes practice.
If you are alarmed by someone’s verbal abuse it is important to calm those vrittis first before you take action. Sometimes the vrittis do not calm down but at least you do not botch your response to objectionable behavior. I was going to leave Sunday’s trolling unpleasantness alone until I saw that my friend was still being harassed in the comments section of her new blog entry. So after a very mentally busy home practice (it started snowing when I was about to leave) I decided to do a little retired suburban housewife with time on her hands online research. It is important to save a copy of everything you find, because for example if I had not saved an image of who could potentially be my friend’s and my tormentor, It would have disappeared by today and that image was quite helpful. Then you just need patience and time until you will eventually find a Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence with a place of employment, several Indian marriage/matchmaking registries with his data, a youtube channel, and several threads where there are inquiries about job searches in a certain Scandinavian country. So, what do you do with all this which you copied, saved, AND even printed you may ask? You take it to your local police department, You share it with your friend should she want to take it the Mysore Police Dept. and Maybe also offer it to her husband here in the states should he want to take further action. If you still have oodles of time you might want to investigate how to send this to the local police department in certain Scandinavian city, that matches his LinkedIn profile, and of course share with as many yogi friends who might want to know how to avoid receiving insults and threats. Being only 29 is no excuse for bad manners. But you have to do all this before you reveal what you collected and generously shared because then of course there will be a lot of panicked but too late deleting. Oh, and report the verbal abuse to WordPress, but I haven’t heard from them yet.
I know a really decent female human being who is studying at KPJAYI and blogging about it. She had the audacity to mention how unfamiliar she is with the night time noises, that she saw some trash on empty lots next to very beautiful homes, and that a bus full of teenagers almost teased her. Some troll became melodramatically unhinged while reading this and accused her of being a racist and to insulting India as a nation, and threatening to find her and set her straight or make her pay, or something. I think he is still deciding. That’s fine, she can handle it, and so could I when he came over to troll my about page over here. Feel free to browse, but like I told this person, I feel that our exchange might be unproductive, so I “finalized” our conversation. What I really want to discuss is my impression that trolls are a lot more violent and aggressive with their language when they address female bloggers than their male counterparts. Does anybody else notice that? I see that not just from overly emotional possibly stressed out people, but politicians, pundits, and hackers across all social media. I generally don’t find men calling other men old, fat, prostitute, etc. or being threatened with “wait until I find you” but maybe I generalized. The other thing that came to mind, that I find more disturbing is how this overreaction to a tourist posting her observations might put her in danger, and I cannot help but think how this trolling happens around the same time that book banning is occurring in India, and how our online conversations could be vulnerable to censoring as well. My other reason to post this is that if you do check my about page and read it, I still would like to think the abusive language will remain just verbal and onscreen only, but want everyone to be careful.
UPDATE: On the advice of my friend Boodiba, I have removed the excrement from my about page now that I have an album of screen shots of this persons “poetry”.
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.
A perfect day:
1. Watch a movie too close to your bedtime the night before. The Butler in this particular instance.
2. Fret about Mariah Carey’s character, and Oprah’s character while you toss and turn most of the night.
3. Turn off the alarm and think I’ll go to J’s 11:AM because in the fog you think it’s Friday not Sunday.
4. Wake up to the smell of fresh croissants & coffee because your hon has gone to get the NYT paper edition.
5. digest the dough and coffee while you talk to daughter for over an hour on the phone while you plan what to do/eat/go when she visits for the entire month of March.
6. Go upstairs to commit to at least 5 As & 5B’s and make it all the way to 1/2 primary.
7. Have a 2PM lunch while husband reads you articles from the Economist and you take sips of HIS glass of Cabernet.
8. Finish a leftover carton of Jeni’s Whiskey and Pecan ice cream because even though it is over a month old it is too expensive to throw and you freshen it up with a dash of Talisker.
9. Read a couple of motivational ashtanga blogs ( Sadhana in the city & The Journey of My Practice) because tomorrow is Monday and you need to get over the fear of driving in the snow to get to practice.
10. Inhaling your freshly laundered towels and realizing you finally figured out the right amount of baking soda to add in order to get that sesame oil smell out of your towels because that is what ends up happening when you do abhyanga daily.
11. It is one minute to 4 PM and you find no fault in the way your day has gone.