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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Six-Day Practice.

I made notes yesterday, but I never got them posted. So. Two days at once!

November 8, 2012

I only got in about 45 minutes today - suryas and closing series. I got up late. So I mostly focused on working the breath aspect. I'm getting into the groove faster and faster as I move through suryas - my body is way more supple than it used to be. A year ago I never would have thought I could just haul my legs into Padmasana mostly cold, and not have it hurt. But that happened this morning. All things are possible. Speaking of Padmasana, in the first of the final three poses, I got the strangest sensation - kind of like the feeling you get from giggling hysterically, but bubbling out of my hips. I sat there and breathed through it and just let it come, but it was weird.
I'm teaching a lit class and found some quotes that reminded me of things I've been reading in the different yoga texts that Miyagi's been giving me.

"To understand how this came about, you must first understand the enormous single-mindedness, the innocence with which he approached any problem. He was not naive, he merely permitted himself no distractions. He wasn't brave; he merely had that singlemindedness and caution. ...It became apparent to them that he was not a madman totally, just mad enough to be holy."

"When will we solve this? [they] asked. When will we see [this place] as a paradise?
In the manner of a teacher answering a child who has asked the sum of two plus two [he] told them, 'From three to five hundred years.' 
A lesser fold might have howled in dismay. But they had learned patience...  It was a bit longer than they had anticipated, but they could all see that the day was coming. They tightened their sashes and went back to work." 

There's even yoga in Dune. 

November 9, 2012

I slept in today and went to the second class at ten. Practiced for an hour plus; got up through Garbha Pindasana to ..the one right after it, whose name I have forgotten. So much is happening in my hips. They're opening up, stretching, flattening almost -as if rolling outwards. So much feeling.
I'm sore through my hips - there's been a deep opening beginning, and Miyagi's helping it along ("Bad lady, no escaping!" *SQUISH*) - and the muscle we think is my piriformis is really hurting me tonight. RAWR. It's not sharp-pain, it's achy and grumbly and makes me want to never leave the tub. Rotten muscles.
I've switched almost exclusively to a vegetarian diet (which really means mostly all I've eaten is apples, peanut butter, nuts, broccoli, cheese, ice cream and pumpkin bread) and I'm having all sorts of weird cravings. Like, seriously, guys, I haven't had barley since I was eight. Why am I craving it like it's candy? And while I've never actively disliked rice I don't crave it. WTF?
Also, though less omnipresent, I'm craving dairy foods (the Hatha Yoga Pradipika says that this is a thing?).  And I'm having a hard time eating raw food without something to buffer it. Every time I drink soda I get ridiculous bubbly burps for half an hour, that's weird and new. Where my appetite is has changed, too. I'm starving in the morning after practice - I want to eat ALL THE THINGS. Around lunch the same sort of thing happens, and then I get somewhat munchy around 6, give or take. And then nothing (which is strange, because I'm used to eating at 10, 2, and 11 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner respectively. It's like five days of practice suddenly inverted my appetite and reset my sleeping schedule - I hit 7 at night and CRASH. I can sometimes nap and then manage til 12, but at 9 or 10 I'm wilting again. My body clock is far stronger and a great deal more regular.
Also: I don't know if this is yoga-related, but my senses of smell and taste are extremely keen this week.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Like a computer...

I was reading some notes transcribed by this lady from a conference with Sharath, and found this quote. It made me smile.

"Yoga is a very powerful tool – we  need to know how to use it then many things can happen. Like with an Apple computer, if you know how to use it then you can do miracles; if you don’t know how to use it then you can blow up the  computer. Yoga is also like that."

Deepening the Practice

I've always processed things through words.

My teacher (hereafter referred to as Miyagi, for reasons that will later be explained) is always telling me to write things down when I discover them, to keep a record. Ashtanga is a life practice.

A few months ago my yoga studio determined that we had a large enough Ashtanga community to begin offering a self-practice room five days a week from six to eight each morning, in addition to the weekend led classes. I had said I would be interested, but life happened and I only made it to morning classes a few times. A combination of reading material, body grumblings, teacher scolding, and daylight savings time made me decide to commit to the jump - a six-day practice. So, with the help of an ungodly amount of hot chocolate, I started getting up at six last week, and although I missed Monday this week I got up (swith the help of hot chocolate, of course) and practiced yesterday and today. And I've noticed so many small things even just comparing two days in a row.
So, in the interest of deepening my practice, I'm going to write practice notes - hopefully daily - and blog them.

Maybe I'll learn something.

Today I did full primary in about an hour and a half - pretty standard for me. Miyagi popped up a couple times to give me adjustments: "Hey, do you need help? Psst!....DANIEL-SAN!"

My shoulders are sore from Supta Kurmasana, which I've only really started delving in to over the past week or so, so the soreness has kinda been ongoing recently. Beginning stiffness was so much less today than it has been in the past; by my second Surya A I was moving easily. I couldn't do standing-hand-to-big-toe to save my life today, but that's all right. Not sure whether it was because fellow practitioners had weird spots in practice or because I had subsurface stuff going on but I had to ground a lot more than usual. I also didn't get my head down as far as usual in the four wide-legged forward folds in standing series but when I got to the seated equivalent in the late half of practice my hips felt incredibly stretchy -bouncy, almost. So I got down really, really far. It felt fantastic. My back wasn't super flexible today, so I pushed up but didn't drop back. I got really weird feelings in Savasana today, of the hovering-six-inches-above-your-body variety. Could work my eyes but not my hands when I was ready to come out of it so I had to blink and then get my mouth working and then finally could get my hands to move before I could get up. That sort of ' do I get back up?!' feeling hasn't happened in a while. So yeah - it was good. I can't wait to go back tomorrow. I want my hips to stop grouching at me.

As Guruji was known to say, yoga is 99% practice - 1% theory. You cannot wait for your practice to arrive. You must go to it. With delight, or for comfort; for answers to the questions, or  for the questions themselves. Practice is not (entirely) something you do. Practice is a place at which you arrive. And to get there, you have to show up.