Monday, May 01, 2006

"I see led people"

Yesterday at brunch with the Shala X crew, including Sir and the Tiny Jewel that is the daughter of Sir (at The Place That Puts Candle Cafe to Shame, where else? I think I am becoming addicted to live fruit salads with almond cream. And even though I was kind of craving a Diet Coke, no ice, I was very happy to drink room temperature water and French pressed organic coffee - yes, I am back on the stuff), the topic came up what precipitates a loss of focus during practice. For me, no matter what some of you out there like to say about me and my driste, I am very focused during practice. It may look like my eyes are wandering, and they may even take in some observations here and there. But generally speaking, my focus goes right back to my breath and my own practice.

Except for that one time last week - Friday, to be exact - when I allowed someone else's practice to distract me to the point where I was no longer practicing at all. It was an awful practice, an awful experience, and it was all my own fault; but this is not news - I am repeating myself. But what I did not explain on Friday was what was what bothered me about this student's practice, what made me look and find myself unable to look away. I wanted to leave that to your imagination. I assume that some of you thought that her practice was beautiful and breathtaking and that I felt inadequate watching her. Or perhaps you thought that her practice was distracting because of heavy breathing or clapping or foot stomping. But what it was was that she was me. Me, circa May 2005. Me, before I had the shit kicked out of me by this practice, by the EZ Board and, in a way, by my teachers. Andby "shit", I mean "ego". And by "ego", I mean the various misdentifications I tend to make vis a vis myself that have everything to do with circumstances and externals and nothing to do with the tabula rosa that is the Self.

A year ago, I came to the shala after having taken led classes regularly for several months, looking to speed through the Primary Series. Postures that were difficult for me were not places to learn, but rather, hurdles to jump over, with hopefully no one noticing. My belief was that I was "good at yoga". So, anything that conflicted with that belief was either upsetting, uncomfortable or simply to be ignored.

So, this student from last Friday - she distracted me because I saw myself in her. What I saw was a student like me from a year ago, someone who had likely been practicing led Primary and was accustomed to modifying every pose that was not within her grasp, the purpose being to get through Primary, as opposed to learning the yoga that the system has to teach. And I felt a combination of embarassment for her (did she realize that she was out of synch with what was going on around her?), embarassment for myself (would people make the connection?) and anger (why didn't she humble herself to the learning that could take place here in the shala?) All of this was, of course, misplaced. And all of this did nothing but make my head spin. Thus, I was sorta kinda looking forward to seeing this particular student again yesterday, and taking the opportunity to sorta kinda "face my demons" so that I could move past them (my demons, that is).

When said student was not there, I began to wonder: had I dreamed her up?

Was she some sort of doppelganger of myself, of my own practice sometime circa May of 2005, a spectre of my own ego, created specially by me, for me, for my own personal torment of myself? Was this student someone whom only I could see? Was I going to be walking around like a sad zombie, eyes hollow from being haunted day and night by spectral yoginis who practice led?

Would I need to change the Yoga Chickie tagline to, "Yoga Chickie: I see led people"?

Which is how I came to ask my companions if there was, indeed, a new girl at the shala on Friday, someone who came late and was kind of doing it "her way"?

"That is so funny that you ask that," said one of my favorite shala mates, "I know who you're talking about, and what's funny is that at first when I saw her out of the corner of my eye, I thought she was YOU!"

My heart sank. Turns out my friend was referring to the fact that this student happens to actually LOOK a bit like me (I don't see it at all, but whatever, and cue the Twilight Zone music while we're at it). So, apparently, there was no escaping the inevitable comparison, whether I made it myself, or whether it was made for me. And that's just the way it is, and there aint nuthin' I can do about it.

Taking a deep breath, I raised my eyebrows and answered my friend: "So, really, you thought she was me...cause, well, that makes two of us..."


Coda: Practice today was another delight. My binds are back. I gasped in Supta K when Sir adjusted me - MAN, did I need that!!! I think that makes 10 adjusted Supta K's so far, and no further progress, although it is possible that the adjustment opened up my hips a bit...but I won't really know until another practice or two. And the Doppelganger was there. And I kept my eyes to myself for the most part, and didn't I just say that my practice was delightful? So, I guess the room IS big enough for me and my shadow.


neti said...

Its like that scene in empire strikes back, where Luke goes into the cave to face his deepest darkest fear, turns out its himself.
The shala is your cave

liz said...

I used to practice with Guy and Greg before moving to So Cal. I wonder if we practiced together? I left in August 04

yoga chickie said...

I came in last spring, so I totally missed you. In August of 04, I was still enjoying Jivamukti, Bikram and Om classes. I really didn't start to explore Asthanga with any regularity until March of '05.

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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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