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.
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.
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.