Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lesson Number 2: Taking a led class with your teacher does not mean you have been given the entire Primary Series

Now, I mean no disprespect when I write this. So, let's just clear that up right now. And for that matter, let's clear something else up: Lesson Number 2, as aforementioned, falls into the category of "mundane" and "silly , as opposed to the category of "sacred" or "solemn". Nevertheless, it is a lesson that is worth mentioning, at least in my mind.

It was a joy to delve into the entire Primary Series, yes. And a nudging, winking joke was made by me to my teacher to the effect of, "Hey, thanks for giving me all those poses. It will be great to be practicing the full primary from now on..." But here is the truth: it matters not whether you are practicing Surya Namaskar A and then lying down in Savasana or whether you are practicing Advanced C (if that actually exists). And here is the (hopefully) non-mundane , non-silly Summer Camp lesson note that goes with this truism:

Yoga is what you do while you're practicing Asana (the physical practice). Not the other way around. Every body is in need of something different. The asana practice provides a framework for playing out the dramas we experience courtesy of our constantly vritti-ing minds. The structure of the Mysore style teaches us surrender - to things as they are, to that which we can't control, to an understanding that there is something to be learned by those who have treaded the path before us.
There was some discussion after class about the usefulness of discussing asanas ad nauseum as some of us have been known to do (guilty as charged). I suggested in my infinite (oh, wait, I think I meant to say "infantile") wisdom that perhaps "if one, hypothetically speaking, were to obsess over what it takes to get into certain postures, perhaps such obsession would actually help that hypothetical person to calm her hypothetical giving her something else to think about...hypothetically." Sir didn't exactly agree. Instead, he likened this obsession-transference to something akin to what happens when the kids in The Cat in The Hat Comes Back try to clean up the "pink mess" left by the Cat in the bathtub:
The water ran out
And then I SAW THE RING!
A ring in the tub!
And, oh boy! What a thing!
A big long pink cat ring!
It looked like pink ink!
And I said, "Will this ever
Come off? I don't think!"
First, the Cat uses "Mother's white dress", but that left the tub all clean, while the dress was a mess. So, the Cat smacks the dress against the wall, moving the pink mess to the wall. The wall spots get removed by Dad's shoes, the shoe spots get removed by the rug, from the rug to the bed, from the bed to the snow. The more the Cat tried to clean the pink off of the snow, the more the pink mess spread all over the snow until everything was blanketed in pink. Ultimately, and kind of sadly now that I think about it, the only thing that worked to remove the pink mess, which was now EVERYWHERE, was "VOOM!" A massive, apocolyptic explosion set forth by the Cat's little helper, "Little Cat Z".

From a yogic standpoint (as well as from a psychotherapy/Freudian anlysis standpoint), you can see that moving the "mess" accomplishes, at best, simply moving the mess to some other place, and, at worst, messing everything else up. (On a whole other level, you can look at The Cat in The Hat Comes Back as a nihilistic allegory of politics as an insane and sartorially challenged feline that will continue to spread evil throughout the world until there is no choice but to blow it all up.

But I digress.

The point is: we practice to practice, not to get the next pose. And if we're practicing to get the next pose, then we are either missing out on an important aspect of yoga, although said "missing out" could be merely part of the journey.

And to this, I feel the need to add: My Marichiasana D sucked big-time today. It was nothing like my Mari D nirvana from last week. And worse, I felt doubly awful as I struggled to hook my slippery fingers together because it was Mark's first day back at the shala since last summer, and it felt as if I had made no progress whatsoever since he had last seen me. I know it doesn't matter. I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know.

But DAMN. Why couldn't I have had a good Mari D day today???


1 comment:

vivage said...

I've stopped all decriptions of my stuggles with asana. For the most part anyway. It got to a point where I found myself thinking about the struggle rather than being in the pose. For me, it felt like I was grasping (holding onto?) the difficulties and thats what my practice began to be about.

It felt like writing about it cemented it all the more into more monkey mind jumping around. But thats just me.

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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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