Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It's not's me...

I need to clarify something regarding yesterday's post, Ashtang Pranam: I am not judging, criticizing or in any way denigrating any student for his or her devotion to his or her teacher, (Ashtanga teacher or otherwise). What I was saying is that I feel a sense of personal frustration because I don't see how I would ever be able to attain that level of devotion, myself, and that is going to make my practice of Ashtanga all the more difficult (and it makes other areas in my life more difficult as well).

As REW wrote in her comment to me, I emailed her a week or so ago, asking why she felt she had to ask her teacher (Eddie) if it would be a good idea for her to teach yoga at her law firm. It became clear from Rachel's sparkling-clear answer that it wasn't that she felt she "had" to ask him for his blessing; it is that she WANTED to teach IF she had his blessings. Her devotion came from within herself, and not from any sort of intimidation. I responded to her with a wish that I too had a teacher who inspired such devotion. I do not in any way disrespect Rachel's or anyone's devotion to their teacher. It is simply something that I am not currently experiencing....and by the way, I actually wasn't thinking specifically of Rachel's teaching dilemna when I wrote Ashtang Pranam- my thoughts were percolating over the course of the day as a result of a number of things that I read on the web, including some blogs, including some EZ Board stuff and including an email from a friend regarding pressure she perceives from her teacher to move toward veganism....thus, not specifically about yoga or Ashtanga, but tangentially related (ahimsa, etc.)

Julie makes an excellent point - that the desire to ask for poses is something that the Ashtanga system helps us to quell, through the stilling of the citta vrttis (mental fluctuations/a.k.a. head noise). And I suppose that in general, the act of surrendering IS a part of the process in learning the Ashtanga system, in moving toward mental stillness and unification with the higher power within ourselves (the divine self).

The reality is, all of this talk on my part is probably not much more than the result of anxiety about not practicing and anxiety about getting back into my practice. For the past six weeks, I have been reading about others' practices, workshops, pujas, lectures, and it feels like I am totally out of it. And how will I ever get back into it? Seven weeks ago, I was as ensconced in it as anyone else who blogs here - when my teacher suggested I take off a few pounds, I took off TWELVE. When my teacher suggested I do supported fish as a research pose, it became part of my everyday routine. And now, it is nearly impossible for me to imagine that sort of trusting reliance on the words of the teacher.

I must have Ashtangamnesia...

When I get anxious, I begin to experience feelings of aversion. It's just the fear talking. I need to let go of fear, get back to practicing and just let things develop.

I really appreciate everyone's comments.



Anonymous said...

If all is one, who are you prostrating yourself to? You are you devoting yourself to? Who is the teacher?

Anonymous said...

Oops, meant to ask: Who are you devoting yourself to?

yoga chickie said...

A higher power - God, or whatever force brought us to be here on Earth as it is. And within each one of us, there is a glimmer of that higher power. That is the teacher within us.

We (our mind) don't hear the teacher (the "boundless divine self"), but the teacher always hears us. I believe that with devotion and hard work, we can connect with the teacher within , stilling the chatter of the mind in order to have, at the very least, moments here and there of pure, transcendent, vritti-less understanding of everything we need to know.

The higher power is the ultimate teacher, but the ultimate teacher resides in each of us. Accessing that ultimate teacher is the goal of yoga, at least as I understand it.


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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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