Folks, I am arriving to the part where my practice shows me that telling the story of my practice is becoming something sort of unrelated to my practice. I am at the point where I realize that I practice to interrupt the vrittis which later return here (and elsewhere) as the story of what happened, or what I think happened, or worse: What I think will happen next. Other times it is an exercise in standing out or self identifying as being in the correct team (Ashtangi) or as separating myself by being against exhibitionism, through asana, or intellectual mental gymnastics, and against commercialism through those two methods as well. None of those identifications are necessary for completing a practice. My story only means that what I narrate concurs and flows with the stories from others, and their stories resonate with me. It only means that the stories of others, mess up my narrative and create dissonance. My like or dislike of their stories or mine do not make them accurate or real. If I could describe what really happens during yoga practice (so tempted to put an acronym here) it would be an attempt to describe the finding of space that remains open and unfilled.
Sweet baby Jesus, there is currently a shit storm brewing on Facebook that was conjured during the comments on Matthew Remski’s post on his retelling of the interview that Kino gave him after he highlighted her injury report on her FB page. Shit storm is no longer about Kino and her hip, no Sir. Actually hard to tell what it is about right around now. And you know I do not have the credentials, the academic skills, or the discipline to follow what is really going on. All I know is that right around now talk about White privilege, colonization, feminism, racism, and cultural appropriation is hopping. And not just among yogis who know a thing or two about throwing shade. Salon, Slate, TheAtlantic and NYmag all have pieces on these topics this week.
This is not even what I wanted to blog about today. I wanted to recommend. Ta-Nehishi Coates’ book; The World And Me. I am being educated and made aware of things a 57 year old white latin woman had no idea about, through a very fine piece of literature.
Just finished reading Annie Lamott’s Facebook post on her 29th recovery birthday and it made me realize that we all use something or another to blunt the panic and fill the holes. We spend so much time judging comparing an overanalyzing each other’s method or substance of choice, that it is hard to realize that we use that too as a way to calm the fuck down and feel better about how we go about administrating our fix. Today I experienced how we can be so successful in blunting the feeling or filling the hole, that we can loose the ability to communicate with parts of our bodies. I was convinced that I tilted my pelvis when I needed to perform certain asanas. It turns out that it is all in my head. My pelvis has not heard or understood a single request so far. I have several ideas on why I just only now realize this, but that is a longer post than the ones I prefer to write. Annie Lamott says that “why?’ is not a useful question. All I know is that yoga is a circumstance that fosters the communication and the exploration of those spaces and parts of yourself that you thought where holes and you sealed up or cut off a regular conversation with. There are other places and possibilities to do that. Not just through yoga. Just let’s not get all wound up and bent out of shape when someone slips and scrapes their knee or twists an ankle while trekking the valley or the summit. I don’t know shit about baseball but Annie says that Grace bats last, and that’s how we will all recover from using.
You guys, I know there is funeral in Charleston today, and my president made me so proud that he was there representing us. But as I am solemn, I am also so darn HAPPY that we have had positive news for 2 days in a row. Racist symbols coming down, ACA is not repealed, and my gay family members, and my gay friends who truth be told I love more than my gay family members, have full rights. Happy rest day & Namaste.
I practiced at home today because every third Friday of the month at my shala there is what is called introduction to second series instead of led primary. I usually bow out when I remember that it is that Friday and at some point even started marking it on my calendar until my teacher pointed out that it was going to feel like that when the time came to start second anyway so why delay the inevitable? Good point right? So I stopped marking it but I still sometimes ditch it when I happen to remember. There is however a group sitting practice before asana practice on Fridays and I love that so sometimes I bite the bullet and go just to have that time. Not today though. I have cried and felt strong anger on 3rd Fridays for no reason and I have not burned my sadness or my anger about our collective response to the domestic attack on our fellow human beings.
I live in the town where Anne Coulter grew up and became who she is. It is also where Glenn Beck chose to live before he left the East coast after his meltdown. Many years ago my mother in law drove her son in law who is a black man to see the Phillip Johnson Glass House from the road, and the police pulled up while they were standing by the road just looking at it because neighbors had called. BUT there is always light where there’s darkness or else how could we know it’s dark right? I live in the part of town where the servants, grocers, and bricklayers of the big estates used to live at the turn of the 19th century. Close to the railroad station where now all the restaurant workers and the cleaning ladies show up every morning to be picked up in the gigantic Escalades, Tahoes, and suburbans to clean the already clean gourmet kitchens because the restaurant workers are preparing the meals that those same SUVs will pick up later that day. My next door neighbors until very recently were a man called Charlie Guilliam and his wife Hattie. both from North Carolina. He joined the army to escape a rural racist environment and became one of General Patton’s Drivers. He drove the General’s Vehicle during the parade for the liberation of Paris. His landlord who originally owned his and my house, refused to sell him the house even though he offered cash and had to wait until the man died and his wife relented. Hattie tried to teach me how to grow vegetables and figured out that it was just easier to give me her tomatoes. Before she retired she worked for family in Greenwich and cooked like the hotel chefs of the old days did. The adult children of that family cried like babies at her funeral. Charlie was the janitor at my daughter’s elementary school. And like any teacher will tell you. they see, hear,and know more about the state of the school than the superintendent. He and Ray shared a beer or two on weekends and he would fill us in on what was really going on but with a gentleman’s prudence and good careful manners. He also told us something that may prevent me from ever selling this house. My house was a safe house for people active in the black liberation movement of the 1960’s and 70’s and he showed us a photo of Angela Davis standing in my kitchen with the young tenants of this house at the time. They never had children and left the house to their church congregation which is a tiny Baptist congregation that is one block away from our street. There is a black Baptist church smack in the middle of lily white New Canaan, and The pastor and his wife our now our neighbors. We are not so close because they have to travel to more than one congregation, but I walked over yesterday and gave Candace a blubbering hug only imagining what it must feel to be the wife of a black minister on that day. Let’s find pockets of light, find something torch-like that lights up, take it, and walk towards the places that have none.
I’m upset because I’m not upset. Did you get that? Here is one of the perks about being a regular at a restaurant or a bar, or a cafe. (being vague on purpose here). You see a server/owner/bartender ( again on purpose) outside our regular environment and they confide that they overheard someone; a friend, a family member, a martian, talking trash about you!! I was horrified and embarrassed for about six seconds,and then realized I don’t GAF. This might sound like good news, but to me it really means that I do not have close bonds with people with whom I should really have tight bonds even if they might hurt me. I am going to work on that. I am also working on not feeling gleeful that I know that they were throwing shade at me and I can be sweet when I see them really really soon, and feel superior. Anyway, baking cake and looking forward to eating it. Also opening a bottle of icy cold Gewurtztraminer (Ga voortz traminer- you’re welcome) before Ray comes home. Have a great Friday rest day and may you not need dramamine.
In our tradition we hear do your practice and all is coming which is so very true. We also hear you need to engage your bandhas and you have to be careful not to hurt your shoulders and sometimes you will hear that pilates or free weights will give you additional support in achieving this. For many years I felt both disloyal and mild lazy relief if I considered doing supplemental stuff outside the practice. My rationale was: if there were things that helped improve my strength would they be not part of instruction and included in the series? So lets say, that if you are average weight, average height, and on the young side of 40 when you begin, maybe primary is enough. If you have an unnecessarily large C section scar intersecting with a necessary but very long hysterectomy scar, started ashtanga at 50, and are kind of both fearful and lazy, you are going to need the type of assistance provided here
Sometimes I forget Kino is just 3 years older than my own kid. I mention this because good instruction skills are frequently innate, like in this case. I truly believe that her communication skills would translate into teaching you how to build a viking ship or make paella. Age is not a variable in being a master teacher.