The Sincere Devotion to Strangers

Guruji & Timji

I am about to get all profane and unfactual, but I write short so no big deal. I get all Whitney Houston emotional when I think of Guruji at this time. A man I never met who decided to leave us and his body on my birthday. I get emotional when I remember thinking oh gawd, when  Oni the sub at my first ever yoga class said “my teacher Sri Pattabhi Jois…” and marched me through half primary. She drove 2 hours into and out of Manhattan to study with Eddie Stern before my teacher Val opened her shala. Val started her practice in Encinitas two decades ago with her teacher Tim Miller. Tim now comes to teach at her place and I feel honored when he helps me out.  She took her family to Mysore so she could study with Guruji until her boys could no longer miss school and other activities that make our children thrive. I get emotional when I think that she is now able to return to Mysore as an empty nester this year. I feel pumped when Sharath and Saraswati visit and feel  a rush like a teenage concert goer when Sharath says “Samasthiti” in those huge rooms. Yeah, pretty much like when I first heard a Joni Mitchell song, or David Bowie, or Leonard Cohen. And when I first heard them I could not understand what they were saying but I  knelt and bowed because I knew that it was (and still is) extraordinary and meant to make me feel so fortunate to partake. Are they all gurus and shamans? I have no idea. I am still hoping someone hits me in the forehead  so I can  feel that shot of shaktipat or the equivalent, like in those pentecostal tent revival services. I would prefer a hug but will not get overly choosy. So, I am just so down with having a day like Guru Purnima where we can collectively geek out on the opportunity to express our gratitude for feeling grateful that we did not decline or ignore the opportunity to learn what Guruji shared.

Our Yoga Stories

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.

Innumerable Methods

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.

Today

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.

Satya

The older you get the more you realize that honesty and sincerity are essential to mental health and clarity. If you see my Facebook page, you will notice that I am overly fascinated/obsessed/perturbed  by the Rachel Dolezal story. Not to mention how surprised I am by the turns that the comments and opinions take on the matter. For instance, I can tell who does and does not interact with black women friends on social media who are weighing in on the matter. It is like two different planets out there.  But back to Satya-truthfulness. If we want business practices and work in general to change, we have to start challenging the way communication takes place in that arena.

I subscribe to Danielle La Porte’s newsletter/blog thing. If you don’t know her, look her up and you will either love her or want to choke her with your bare hands. She sent a piece this morning entitled: The Risky Business Of Being Sincere in Business which I cannot share because her link is broken. Minus the very engaging personal examples she shares, here is the gist:

Nothing is more Biz Legit than the truth, so usually go with that,

.Sincerity is a form of power.

If we were all more human in our work communications, work would be more humane.

To bring it a little more toward the “yoga biz”, a teacher’s bio has red flags when I read that they “have studied with many masters” and “have travelled all over India” and are “inspired” (not took workshops or learned from)  by well known established western teachers. Just tell me who taught you and why you think you can teach.

Favorite Futzes

There is a dry board at the entrance of our shala where there is always an inspirational quote or passage from a yoga text or another book containing Dharma. Today’s quote was from the Gita highlighting  action without concern for results, so I went in vowing to not fret about the end result of each asana and just do. Intentions got highjacked as the often do and I ended up noticing/listing/enumerating every single tick corresponding to every asana which I have accumulated through the years. Here in no particular order but definitely abridged and abbreviated:

-rock back and forth in chaturanga to find the base before lowering.

-reach up before extending my arm over in UPP A.

-walk my feet back in a bit after rising up from prasarita D so I  won’t topple and I can walk myself back to the front of the mat.

– wipe snot and sweat from my nose before attempting Ardha Baddha P. (every day with out fail)

-widen my stance to accommodate my rear size in warrior poses.

-squeeze my knees together with my hands before reaching up to Utkatasana

-rearrange my belly fat so I can fit my heel and hopefully bind in Ardha Baddha PP.

-hold my left thigh so it does not go forward again in Janu B.

-holding my legs in the 3rd Navasana  then let go again for the last two.

Too many to count from here to closing.

-having to look up at the ceiling first to get into Padmasana.

Awareness is the first step to change they say.