Tuesday, March 21, 2006


First the boring practice notes (which I feel I must memorialize on a fairly regular basis in order to honor the original purpose of this blog, which was to track my progress in the asanas; yeah, yeah, I know that seems silly now, given that progress in the asanas isn't important at all to the practice of Ashtanga yoga; it doesn't matter if we NEVER progress in the asanas, as long as we keep practicing...but hey, it's nice to set an intention):

First: regarding practicing slowly. Like generating heat, practicing too slowly isn't so good. At least not for me. It sucks all of the energy out of me. I should not be taking more than 90 minutes to do my practice. And when I do, it starts to show...the the form of flagging energy. I am much better off when I practice briskly. Must try that tomorrow.

Second: regarding twisting. I am >this< close to getting my palm to the floor on each side of Parivritta Parsvakona.

Third: regarding Mari. And think it is now safe to say that I can pretty reliably grab wrists by myself in Mari A (although my form was horrible today, and when C came over to adjust me, I practically fell over onto my side!). Mari C is servicable. Mari D, eh, it's going to be a long while before I can just exhale into that one. And yet I get adjusted less and less and to a lesser extent. Ah well. It is, after all, my own practice. Must try to remember that tomorrow.

I didn't mention Mari B because I really have nothing to say about it. But that just seems wrong. I mean, here is a posture that I could really not get myself into on a consistent basis when I started practicing a year ago in led classes. And now, I can stretch my arms way way back and go for the wrist. I don't get the wrist, but I can go for it. So, I shouldn't leave out Mari B. She has done nothing wrong.

Regarding my current apex pose: Bringing my head up from Bhuja without cheating by touching my toes on the floor is one hell of a challenge. I feel like I am trying to levitate. Only unlike the practice of levitation, I can actually manage to do it. It just feels like I am lifting myself up with some sort of internal crane. A big ole awkward internal crane.

Now, on to the analytical: In thinking about my practice just now, the word "Asteya"came to mind. Asteya is one of the "Yamas", which is one of the eight limbs ("asht"-"angas") of Ashtanga yoga. Asteya is the observance or practice of "non-stealing". Asteya has also been tranlsated as "non-coveting".

I started to think about Asteya because I'm feeling a bit in a rut with my Ashtanga practice at the moment. I am not seeing much progress. Or rather, to be more accurate, there is no dramatic progress. I need to get used to that. I guess at my heart, I am a drama junkie. But there is no drama now. Which is good, but also kind of boring. I suppose Supta K will be good for the drama fix. But there's no telling when Sir will see fit to take on THAT with me.

Interesting - that this is how I see it: that whether or not I get another pose will have more to do with whether or not my teacher feels like venturing down that rabbit hole with me, than with whether or not I am physically capable of working toward the pose. I have no idea if that is really the way it is. To think that it is like that could be viewed as cynical. Playing devil's advocate to that way of thinking, I would have to say, "It has nothing to do with your teacher's state of mind, but rather how your teacher views your progression in the asanas and the practice in general." But logic, as well as experience, dictates that a teacher in a Mysore-style setting must take into account what he/she is getting into when he/she decides to teach a student a new pose.

Me, I was quite a handful when I first showed up at Shala X. I wanted to cover all of Primary as quickly as possible. When Mark got me bound in Mari C and Mari D through what might be described as sheer force, I wanted to know when I was going to get the next pose. And the next. And the next. I didn't just want to know, I would actually ask. "Can I take Bhujapidasana today?" I would ask. Until one day he let me. And that is how I got Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana.

I think that not only was I being covetous, but I was also stealing. From my teacher. I was stealing his time and his energy. My Mari A and B were pretty rough around the edges, to say the least. So, basically, I was being adjusted in nearly every posture, from Mari A through Supta K. First degree theft in a shala. I only realize this now.

And it takes a lot of courage for me to even write it. And even more courage for me to put it out there on here. So, please don't skewer me. I know better now. And I have never ever asked Sir for a pose. And I never will.



Anonymous said...

90 minutes for your practice to Bhuja? WAY too slow. You should be on the closing poses within an hour- tops. The way I see it is, you have 5 breaths per pose each day to see how the pose is working for you - then you move it along...Don't forget - the reason Guruji started doing led classes in Mysore again was that he saw how people were breathing wrong. This is a fast-paced practice.

valerie said...

ivw actually sometimes wondered -in my cynic voice- if the giving out of poses was perhaps based a little on business economics too. Pacing the students allows for them to continue showing up with shala dues in hand every month...
that sounds ridiculous i know, but thougfht it was funny that it had even ever popped up in my head!


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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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