There is a whole post that goes along with this which you will find over here I just wanted to share that my wonderful cyber friend Anthony aka Grimmly, has just delivered the clearest most unassuming translation of the eightfold path to yoga, in plain modern English. In other words, he presents Ashtanga without drama:
1. Reflect on and seek to practice the moral code of your culture.
2. Work on your self discipline.
3. Do some exercise of a non competitive nature to improve your health and flexibility if necessary (you might have a physical outdoorsy job for example).
4. Calm your breathing (unless you have stress free outdoorsy job ).
5. Turn inwards.
6. Focus your attention on something worthy.
7. Contemplate it and then contemplate what is contemplating what.
8. See what happens next.
Did you know that if you had metal fillings while young, cavities can still form underneath them??? I found out that since my last dental exam I was now the owner of six cavities so deep that I spent five hours on the dentist chair. It could have been less hours but they did not have any more appointments until after December and that would mean leaving insurance money on the table. So now I have been drilled on twice in the same place, and I have no compulsion in saying that I am not interested in being still alive for the third time.
When I first became interested in yoga, I did not read the Sutras, The Gita, or The Yoga Pradipika. I read these
And now I have to read them again before I visit India, because I read them too early into my practice and retained very little.
Also about doing things twice, I wish we as a nation would not have to suffer the embarrassment twice, of seeing proof that we acted like the Germans, who would not believe what the Nazis had done. The Nazis also believed they were the good guys, Dick.
OMG look at what I just went and did:
I spent the entire past week indoors, in a hoodie and sweatpants, eating food that did not need preparation and was mostly white in color. The only thing I omitted from this spiral was booze because I did not have any and did not want to go outside to get some. I did some variations of 10 to 15 minute asanas every day, but only so I would feel that I was still part of a yoga community and I could comment on shit online without being a hypocrite. Sometimes a human gets slightly depressed, in the same way one can catch a cold, a skin rash, or a yeast infection. It passes, you feel better, and you get on with it. So I am going out early tomorrow to partake of communal practice. Kind of bloated, kind of stiff, but less frowny, less pouty, and way less despondent. Looking forward to feeling positively giddy about any old thing, which I must admit is a tall order during this ridiculous time of year. One thing I do look forward to every year is early led morning practice on Thanksgiving day, it never get old. Speaking about community, I also could not help notice through out this week that most Ashtanga practitioners and teachers who I admire and respect seldom get drawn into the back and forth that occurs during recurring bursts of online Ashtanga ranting/bashing. They seem to never take the bait ( and I do mean bait) to join the fray. That silence speaks in calm, steady, easy volumes to me.
Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to communicate with people who don’t even know that you are reading what they write in a comment to someone else with whom you share an online relationship with. Many of you probably read a widely shared post that included the very entertaining word “Ashtangorexia” along with many other circumstances that can go badly if we squeeze any physical or spiritual practice so hard that we choke it to death. In a response to one of those shares, a wise commenter brought up that during the many years of maintaining a consistent six day a week practice, she counts as practice the times when she is only able to do more or less 20 minutes of sun salutations and maybe some standing. This comment has helped me over the last few days. I was traveling over the weekend, and missed Friday practice, when I read this comment. I later saw a related comment from my travel warrior ashtangi friend K who mentioned that practice can happen when we decide the conditions are perfect as they are, so that helped me do a respectable little practice on the hotel rug that Sunday morning, a travel day filled with heartbreak and emotional pain. I went to the shala yesterday, and as expected I started leaking on and off during a hip opening sort of workshop led session. Today, I am still leaking without any warning while pumping gas and also after passing my husband’s childhood home after voting, So I practiced at home, while leaking, just standing and closing, gently. You can’t catch Ashtangorexia if you’ve got challenges that cannot be solved even while having lots of time, food, or money.
Go ahead and google that to see what shows up. Yeah. What does not show up is the blog of this lovely Canadian kid (I’m going to be 57 and I don’t think she is 30 yet) http://exuberantbodhisattva.blogspot.com/
You all know that I have not met a Canadian I do not like. Anyway this Bodhisattva called Erica is quite open and frank about her health challenges, about her relationship with her partner, and will pretty much tell you anything you ask to know or did not ask :). She is now studying in Mysore and if you enjoy Mysore Dispatches, hers are generous and quirky. What she is not, is a poster child for Ashtangi disfunction. She is probably what I will call “on the spectrum” I propose that all those concerned that traditional Ashtanga yoga worsens or affects body image, distortion, narcissism, eating disorders, OCD, self mutilation, eceteraecetera, try and remember that yes maybe a person with those challenges is practicing in a room surrounded by others that are still trying to touch their toes without bending their knees even though they come every day. There are others who decided to ditch the vinyasa between sides, and that is between them and no one else. There are others who are dancers and athletes, and there are the old ones and the fat ones who do not skip vinyasas (don’t look at me, I am old and fat and skip most of the time). Please do not out a blogger or a person trying to become a magazine contributor as evidence of someone who has been mangled by Ashtanga, just because you are fascinated with the subject of yoga and make your livelyhood (or part of it) writing about it. And I like reading about it you know? Until it becomes lets cover all the surfaces of the planet in bouncy surfaces so nobody gets hurt.
Aside from this being the title of one of my top 5 favorite films, it is probably the sensation that I chase over and over throughout the days and months in which I have been waking up with shocking reliability but under appreciating the fact. Being suddenly thrilled about whatever is happening at the moment very occasionally does happen while you notice. It is unforgettable (hopefully() and vividly remembered (also hopefully). For me it has happened most frequently surrounded by nature, or by people who are somehow having the exact same experience, although none of us verbalize it. Both are vividly intense but the latter one is truly undescribable. It is the original “you had to be there” and I can count those on the fingers of one hand. Then there are days like today, when everything that happens, particularly the most trivial aspects, are just perfect, desired, acceptable and satisfying. Decided to sleep longer? No problem. That means truly not finding any reason for it to be otherwise. Asana with a possible pinched shoulder nerve? perfect way of having an authentic non-striving meditative practice. If you are alive in the North East I do not need to describe the kind of day and what it feels to be outdoors right now feels like. For someone who spends her time daydreaming about how it would be to live in places she visits, feeling just full of gratitude and satisfaction for standing right where I am, feels overwhelmingly great. And all it takes is pretty much saying yes to whatever happens next. Sorry, I mean now. See how simple and how difficult it is to stay there?? My teacher likes to repeat the phrase “equal standing” during led practices. Tomorrow, daytime and night time will have equal standing. Maybe that is the vibe I am sensing today. Happy new moon.