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.
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.
Needless to say that I certainly do not recommend this. After a cocktail with one friend, three glasses of white plus one of rose, appetizers, a cheese plate, along with dessert with another friend, followed by a hamburger and a shake to go from Shake Shack at 10 PM (because there was no line! There never is no line!!) I just finished a smooth free of discomfort practice. Go figure. Not that I have to come up with reasons, but I am finding out that an Ashtanga practice is most sustainable when there is nothing to demonstrate, prove, accomplish. In other words when you subtract the feeling of obligation and instead curiously wonder if it can happen while a burger and a salted caramel shake sit undigested in your stomach. Sometimes the answer is yes. Maybe only this one time the answer is yes. All I know is that you have to get up and find out. I read two posts earlier this week. One discussed how it was advisable to find your edge again in the part of the practice that is now smooth and committed to muscle memory so you can refine and sort of wake up the beginners mind I suppose. That pushed everyone of my buttons. I was like, are you kidding me?? those few minutes of the standing and seated poses I can do easily is what I count on to sustain me through the other 90 minutes of I wonder what’s going to happen!! The other post talked about the rough patches that you encounter along the trajectory of your practice and how not to get discouraged or end up walking away. It basically said that you had to freely give and offer your efforts day in and day out until you no longer care if there is a reward or a secret power to discover. You practice generosity with your efforts, the way you practice generosity with your time, with your money or with your patience in many other areas of your life. You give and do not stand around waiting for the lollipop.
Serious question. It involves prioritizing time and money. And I know the answer. I am fortunate to have the chance to partake from the following: Sharath in NYC during mid September. A week of led primary at $250 no day passes and more than one hundred people at the Chinatown YMCA. Louise Ellis Workshop at my dear friend Kristen Albertson’s Shala in Fayetteville, Arkansas also in mid September, and Tim Miller at my shala in Georgetown, CT in October. I am not one of those who has cash for all three, and as you can see you need special siddhis to simultaneously partake of the Sharath and Louise workshop. I have experienced the strong and lovely energy of practicing in the presence of Sharath and Saraswati. What you are attending is not a workshop or an opportunity to refine your asana practice. It is another thing that is definitely not about the $250 price and you either know what I mean or you disregard as you please. Ever since I found out about Louise, I have had this strong desire to study with her, in the same way that I wanted to study with Nancy and Dena. Having been in both their workshops at AYC, I hope to study with them again in a smaller venue which is what Ashtanga Yoga Fayetteville offers with Louise. Then there is Timji, my teacher’s teacher, the teacher of so many other teachers I respect. To me his visit is a vivid, vibrant expression of parampara. So, for now my available pennies are on Louise. My resolution is to save some more for Tim’s October visit, and pay my respects to Sharath and Saraswati when there are no scheduling conflicts.
This is probably not an interesting post for someone who is doing third series or has that as a pragmatic goal. I have been paying attention to the conversation over on facebook about avoiding and preventing yoga injury. Some of you already know that instead of learning both, I chose between learning the Sanskrit count & names of asana or the names and location of those pieces of raw flesh called muscles. Ekam!! I went that way maybe because if I hear or read about injuries to specific body parts, mine start hurting too. The disadvantages to being compassionate but not courageous. I also pretend to bless myself to remember left from right, so definitely a career in physical therapy was not in the cards for me. I am fortunate to be the student of a person who is a former Olympic athlete, has a college degree in Modern Dance, and has 20 years of ashtanga practice under her belt with both common sense and devotion towards parampara. Some of my fellow students, work in the field of massage therapy, and as far as I know, there is also an MD who comes occasionally and was fortunately practicing the day I broke O’s nose during headstand a couple of years ago. My teacher is currently traveling, and there are fellow students of hers who I’m pretty sure have 200 and 500 and whatever is next YA TT documents, assisting us and each other during Mysore practice. The feeling of warmth, support, belonging, and community is palpably spiritual in the room- to me at least. If a brand new student walked in at this time, they probably would do their Sury As and Bs in a gentle manner, close and go home uninjured. This is not a shala that has 50 people every morning, more like a steady 25 sometimes less sometimes more. We have all made hamstring mistakes, shoulder stupidities, and brought knee problems from a previous lifestyle. But we recover and remember what did us in and try not to rescind. Most areas of my life work more or less in that manner, with my family, my former job or my creative projects. I try something while I learn how to do it. I have burned food, broken and ripped things, offended people, given bad instructions, Some stuff I could not fix. I am not saying knowledge of anatomy is not important or desirable in teaching asana. I am saying that it is no more important than it’s role in other movement based activity whether it be for work, recreation, or therapeutic and spiritual goals. Sometimes I get the feeling that we tend to dampen a joyful and challenging activity they way some parents advise the correct use of the monkey bars, the slide, and the swings in the playground, or the correct way to build the sand castle.
I just figured out a way to jot down things that I am wondering about but do not feel like writing an entire post ( in my case 8 sentences or so) about.
I decided to ditch the India/Saraswati idea for October after reading about “How rape is sometimes right” courtesy of State Minister Babulal Gaur. I just don’t feel like encouraging the tourist/visitor industry to think that: -they will come anyway after this all blows off. I saw a photo of those two girls hanging from a tree. There, I said it. Yes, I understand that India is a huge country and Bangalore/Mysore is not the same as other places but this is the only way I can think of protesting the status quo and expressing solidarity.
#WAWADIA. In Canada there is an outgoing discussion about yoga and injury- What Are We Actually Doing In Asana. There is a clip on youtube with a fraction of the conversation. Matthew Remski shared a bit of it on Facebook. I know that having a body for a home requires some housekeeping/maintenance, but I never imagined that what I thought was the housekeeping part required maintenance too???!! This is definitely a first world problem, and yes I realize that I am not giving this topic the depth or width it deserves when we speak of practitioners whose life calling and livelihood are linked to the teaching and demonstration of asana.
Finally, quick question: I bought a travel rug to take on a long vacation. If any of you use one, how wet do you have to get this thing for it not to move around? I am assuming all shalas have spray bottles? Because if I have to carry my own, this purchase was pretty stupid, huh?