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.
Day who knows, of a winter of home practices, and I have at least discovered this: Even though my very valuable marker for the length of each of my 5 breaths in each asana is David Robson’s 4 in/4 out, My fours are a lot faster than my fellow practitioners both live and online. I think I have mentioned before about getting flustered when someone else starts at exactly the same time I do during Mysore practice, and I inevitably end being one or two poses ahead. My inner critic yells slow down right away, but eventually I am ahead again. That is actually one of my biggest distractions, wondering if my breath is cheating. I have heard teachers (Nancy Gilgoff among others) say that Ashtanga should have a dynamic and energetic tempo, but I still measure my breath not by how my body wants to do it but by the tempo of my teacher’s led count. Don’t get me wrong, if it were not for her count I would be moving through my practice like a sped up cartoon video clip. What I just realized is that my natural breath is somewhere between her count and a labored pant. This means that my primary lasts one hour ten, nice and drenched. It is what it is. Will I slow it down during led? Duh, absolutely. But I will no longer feel like I am cutting corners with the length of my breath
#6 I wear perfume. Like a lot of my Latin, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern brethren, I will not leave the house without it. And guess what, nobody has died or gagged. As a matter of fact I get a lot of positive feedback. One lovely teacher at the shala who also happens to be a Yale educated professional violinist AND a shaman (aha, that’s right), once told me that she would think I am not feeling well if she happened to adjust me one day and not inhale something that smells good. I do not bathe in perfume and I do not wear synthetic godawful stuff. I also do not use it shall we say, “to conceal” anything. So there you have it. Tiny rebellions that have not caused havoc. Yet. My three favorites, in constant rotation:
I am usually beyond thrilled when a moon day arrives on a Friday or a Sunday, and don’t get me wrong, I have a nice white Bordeaux chilling in the refrigerator. It is however only the second day of my pranayama for energy experiment and Wednesday was a bust because my niece faked me out pretending she wanted to go to yoga. I then decided that it would be best to do a 10 AM led. When she was unable to wake up in time on her own, I left in a huff to a led HALF primary, so that does not count. Today I won’t lie, I was still exhausted when back bending came around but I focused on what I did right instead of what is still stuck. So I’m doing three rounds of kapalbhati and three of nadhi shodan first thing in the AM.Those are what teacher taught me and I am not in the business of assigning myself independent studies in breathing techniques. Any suggestions I might want to bring up for when I talk to her about this?
I had such a wonderful experience yesterday afternoon during my first ever restorative yoga class, that I woke up this morning with the sun AND refreshed. I only use the word refreshed and woke together maybe on vacation by a warm turquoise ocean. I am so glad I went, and I had to choose between that and a wine tasting benefit! I am totally growing in places. I could have gone to Mysore this morning but I knew teacher had been with her teacher Tim Miller at his workshop in the city. And when she goes to a workshop she always has something interesting and new to share. She cannot really talk about it during morning mysore but during the 10 AM led classes/workshops and Friday/Sunday led she does get a chance, so I decided to go to that this morning. She did have a lot to share… About INTERMEDIATE! Serves me right, I thought to myself, but by the end of practice that serves me right comment had a totally different meaning. She has talked about how to move your sacrum and your pubic bone in preparation for back bending a million times, but it was only today that I finally heard and understood what to do during Ushtrasana. I cannot believe I’m looking forward to trying what I learned tomorrow. Intermediate makes me spacey. Lot’s of driving mistakes on the way back to the ranch. next time I’ll check email and drink some coffee at Tusk & Cup for a little while.
Among the many lessons a daily Ashtanga yoga practice has given me is the appreciation for the routine of the morning inner dialog/negotiation that occurs after the “harp” sounds at six AM every morning. Regardless of how my stomach, and my joints feel, or the quality of my rest and of the last meal of the day before, I now feel the following:
-Gratitude instead of relief when no impediments present themselves, but specially when they do and I sit up and head towards the shower.
-Compassion instead of pity if the above does not happen.
-Equanimity (just a glimpse to be honest) instead of disengagement when I am nervous or feeling negative about the outcome of my practice that day. The intonation of the word “whatever” determines the meaning.
Love instead of infatuation when I think of the results, the lineage, my teacher, the Ashtanga community. It is no longer the excitement of I bumped into the cool crowd , but the astonishment that you found your path.
Two really good mornings in a row will turn anyone into corny sap.
I am off to Boston this afternoon for the rest of the week, with the clear intention of not getting lost while I find the shala space I want to practice at in the suburbs (is Brookline the suburbs??).
Taking a week off practice: Overrated. Even with sleeping in, both body and mind are hyper and restless.
Finding out why Jois closed: Overrated. After the surprise, and either the schadenfreude or the grief, the why is just gossip. Very weird though, is how most comments on the topic are anonymous. Why? Underrated.
Peg Mulqueen and Jen Rene’s video clip of their recent AshtangaDispatch workshop: Underrated. It should be viral. Having problems with Guruji’s silhouette in aqua, but there is no rule that everybody has to like what I like.
The balance in the ratio of men and women in the photo posted by Cathy Louise Broda on FB, of the first time Guruji taught in NYC: Underrated. It is priceless. A big chunk of the history of the Ashtanga community in the USA right there. Beryl Bender Birch so very underrated.
Food as consolation for feeling blue: Under and Over rated simultaneously. Sometimes consolation is not what you need, you actually need to swim in the blue.
Arts and Crafts as consolation for feeling blue: Very Underrated, almost as underrated as being of service while blue. There is a lot of potential creativity and energy in the blue.
If I am taking the pulse of the cybershala correctly (feel free to join me in not being 100% sure) we are all biting way more than we can chew. A few examples:
- Not for profit educational organizations that need to refine and narrow their goals for the dissemination of yoga and it’s benefits.
-individual practitioners who need to go back to basics in order to better understand the gifts that yoga bestows on the humbled student.
-teachers and disseminators of the practice and the Dharma how realize that they cannot and should not be everyone’s teacher.
-World travelers and practitioners who realize that there is nothing to prove.
-bloggers who understand that there are days where there is nothing to say and that in itself is an intricately well wrapped gift.
Disclosure: this post was written under the influence of 3 glasses of this:
Because I am helping my only precious child pack for her move to Nepal and we decided to make it a party instead of a mom sob fest.
Not in the 1960′s parenting tool but as a useful prop for us tamastic beings who cannot seem to lift from the grasp of gravity. I asked teacher if it would be okay to try what I saw on this clip below (I know I know, Shhhh!) and she very kindly agreed. There are straps, blocks & blankets at the shala, but they mostly gather dust, except maybe for an injury/condition/or preference. Lets say that they are not promoted or discouraged. I have to say that I had my hopes on the block, but what was most beneficial was the way that strap speaks to your shoulder blades. They really slide down your back and your elbows are braced to prevent buckling like the columns of a building (do not trust me with that analogy- I can barely use glue correctly to put things together). Anyway, This clip does not look new but I have to say, Maty knows! I am so glad I talked myself into asking, and very grateful that my teacher was gracious enough to help my try this.