Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ladies' holiday...

...but now I'm back to doing yoga, finally, even if it was on a full moon. Practice was somewhat weak; my right knee is still incredibly uncooperative. It got stronger towards the end; the energy 'bridge' in Purvattanasana and Setu Bandhasana was much stronger. Almost cried in closing. Standing up from backbends I had a blood-rushing-to-head-can't-breathe panic for a minute and sat down to try and center up. Must have looked a lot worse than it felt, because walking past Miyagi tapped my head and said, "You all right, Daniel-san?"
It's been a long week.
Earlier this weekend, I had a long conversation with Miyagi in which there was much philosophic frustration (I believe it ended in, "Well, what's REAL, anyway?!") and half-shouting. My head's still spinning from all that, and it was two days ago; we'll see if it makes sense later. Directly after that conversation I spent fifteen minutes attempting my first seated meditation, which was a carnival ride. Today I read the Bhagavad Gita. Still mulling.

The Sunrise Ruby

In the early morning hour,
just before dawn, lover and beloved wake
and take a drink of water.
She asks, “Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth.”
He says, “There’s nothing left of me.
I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
to sunlight.”
This is how Hallaj said, I am God,
and told the truth!
The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.
Completely become hearing and ear,
and wear this sun-ruby as an earring.
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.


Sunday, December 23, 2012


“One becomes firmly established in practice only after attending to it for a long time, without interruption and with an attitude of devotion.”
 - Yoga Sutra I.14

Better, worse, or weirder...

Practice has been sporadic again recently - Thanksgiving, finals, impending Christmas doings. But I practiced in the 12:30 room today: only five of us, all self-practice. Today practice and I had a fight; practice was vicious and I was angry. Funny, that language. "It's out to get me!" My body didn't cooperate, mostly; unstable, no core strength. My right hip gave some, which was interesting, but not consistent. We're working further into my hip, further back.
I could get up into handstand but couldn't stay up; I fell over in headstand and fell dropping back. Miyagi says Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana are coming, though I can't tell; he says he can see it and I believe him. Marichyasana A had weird hip stuff today.
I really didn't want a crack-me-open practice, not today, but it just kept hammering away. I got to Baddha Konasana and was pushing hard, purposefully, bulling my way into the pain with a sort of, "I hope you get hurt, you stupid body, it would serve you right," sort of feeling - I observed this, realized what was happening, and stopped right there. None of that - not here, not today. Catharsis, sure. Intentional harm no. Went straight to backbends and closing series.
I feel like I'm in a holding pattern right now, the edge of an opening. A year in (maybe a little less?). I can do every pose in primary, at least in a modified fashion. On a really phenomenal day I can sail through everything but the Kurmasanas, no problem. Most days, practice is a mess - not neat, not clean, not pretty, not fun, and doesn't always feel good. More recently there's been a lot of anger and some hardened-up tears. Weird bodily sensations. "Yoga gets better, worse, or weirder," Miyagi says.
The thing, I think, has been that practice and I have established our own relationship. A thing that we do, a place and time, a history. There's lineage, of course, the teacher-student connection; Miyagi has become a friend as well as a teacher - but the real relationship is between me and practice. There's love and devotion there. A home.


[From late November.]

Tuesday was a moon day, and I was glad.
Wednesday was not a moon day. I did almost half of primary, and practice kinda sucked.
Thursday I woke up, looked at my alarm clock,  thought for a minute, and rolled over and went back to sleep.
Yesterday I went to practice, and it was hard. My concentration was pretty much nonexistent, my body was stiff and grumbly (although I did get the first pushed-deeper adjustment in Prasarita Padottasana c in a week or so - and didn't die! Yay!) , and for the first time I can remember I got mad during practice. Not frustrated-I-can't-get-this-pose-today mad - actually angry. I'm still trying to process this.
I have a muscle deep in the rear part of my hip (we think it's my piriformis) that aches almost constantly. It was really acting up yesterday, and a deep lotus is one of the few things that can get into it. So, even though I'm trying to be careful of my knees, I was putting myself into a full lotus for Garbha Pindasana. It was taking a minute and Miyagi looked over and said, "Bad lady, why forcing lotus?"
At the same time, I finally got my foot over my shin and into the lotus, and said, "Ha!" in satisfaction. He laughed a little and shook his head and said somewhat reprovingly, "You're one of those people who thinks you get points."
I was mad. 
I wasn't trying to get points.
("Am I the kind of person who tries to get points?")
I was trying to get my butt to stop hurting.
My feelings were kind of hurt.
But mostly I was just quietly pissed.
And there I found focus - zooming tightlipped through postures, razor-gazed on a point in the distance. I got to Savasana.  And then I started thinking, and I almost started to cry. It wasn't the reprimand, and the anger wasn't even really about the reprimand.
Just sad and angry. 

Monday, November 12, 2012


I think that's what the universe has decided on for my next lesson.
My family is entering the leanest month of our year. I just found out that I'm going to have to withdraw from a college class if I don't want an unacceptably low grade. I spent a class falling out of postures during practice tonight in the room of a teacher I'm not terribly comfortable with.
I'm not so good with failure.
I was thinking about this during practice tonight - how I feel so much less secure in this teacher's space, how I feel almost arrogantly certain in Miyagi's. How I feel secure in my status. And then I was's a fucking yoga room. My status? What status? We don't do that here. No points.
Something to work on. I was disappointed in myself when I realized that I probably seem like I'm shooting new people dirty looks and ignoring other practitioners. I don't mean to come off like that but I think sometimes I do. It's not supposed to be like that.
Every time I think I'm getting somewhere, I get a reality check. Sure I'm becoming more and more competent at poses. So what. If it doesn't take me on the mental journey, who cares? I'm not doing this in order to be able to put my foot behind my head. I'm doing it because of what getting to the point of being able to put my foot behind my head will teach me.

(Practice tonight was mostly this. Moon day tommorrow. Lack of solidity and groundedness today -  it was weird, feeling weightless and indistinct. Practice, day to day. I think primary's getting faster - not that it really matters, but it is convenient. Getting through it feels so good now, no matter when/how/how long I do it. The mat is truly beginning to feel like home.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Out of Body

I didn't practice on Saturday, as prescribed, but I did today. I don't have a whole lot to say about it - it was one of those gorgeous, glorious practices where it slips past, breath to breath, and all you can say about it after is, "Stuff happened." Including another out-of-body Savasana where I wasn't asleep but I sure as hell wasn't in the practice room.
It was good.
I've been thinking about these lyrics from Epica in We Will Take You With Us - I'm not sure how they relate (as J. D. Salinger said, "I'm not sure what I mean, but I mean it,") but they seemed attached to practice today.

religious inventions
to give their lives a glimmer of hope
and to ease their fear
of dying. 

I think it's partially that I've heard people ask, 'what's the point of yoga, enlightenment?' as if sneering. For me, yoga has been learning to sit with things without fear - simply allowing them to exist, and myself to exist, and all to be still. I always want to turn to the people who ask that question and say, No. The point of yoga is to be able to sit with the fact that some day you will die - that everyone and everything you love will one day be gone, and if you remain at all, you will be alone. It is learning to sit with that knowledge without dissolving in mindless fear. I don't know if that's what it really is, at least in a larger sense, but for me, that's part of it. Yoga is about learning to face things with quiet courage and, moment to moment, push in deeper. Ha: I can end with yet another Dune nugget.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over and through me.
And when it has gone I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing...
only I will remain.

This is yoga.