Monday, August 07, 2006

Defensive, aren't we?

After reading Sweaty Brain this morning, in which John relates what Christopher H told him and KJS about why some Asthanga teachers (i.e, Manju and his disciples) move their students more quickly through the postures than others (i.e., Sharath and his disciples), I found myself writing a comment to John about my feelings about having been moved slowly through the first half of Primary and probably even more slowly through the second half (seeing as I am stopped at Supta K until I can bind, I would guess that anywhere from two years to forever is going to be the time frame for that) and how that all relates to my choice this month to practice at home, sans teacher, sans adjustments.

And then I realized just how neurotic I sounded, posting such a personal thought nugget on someone else's blog. So, I decided to cut short my comment on the Brain and bring my neurotic, over-thinking, defensive, approval-seeking thought-download to my own blog, where no one has to read it if they don't want to (but you know you want to...).

So, here is what my churning mind came up with, all in the little comments box under John's latest post: "I prefer the slow-teaching method in general," I began by writing, "unless it grinds to a halt as it has with me. " I went on to note that while I can certainly improve my practice up through and including Supta K, I no longer feel as if I am building any significant stamina or bandha strength or even seeing any significant changes (read: improvement) in my flexibility. "Therefore," I explained, "I am going to be self-practicing for a while and doing all of Primary plus drop-backs." Then I got to feeling even more defensive and thought it might be helpful if I reminded John that a few months ago, he helped me with drop-backs while we were both hanging out at Yoga Sutra. We were in the Vinyasa room, and Kelman asked if he wouldn't mind showing me drop-backs. "Remember that?" I wrote before immediately following up with "Well... I can finally do it on my own!! Although I am still falling to my knees on standing up...:("

But that wasn't enough for me, because it didn't really express why I am still even interested in talking about this at all, and that is because: I am still struggling with the decision a bit. Why? Because I fear that my choice to self-practice is motivated in part because of some latent anger I have towards my teachers and towards the system that requires that I bind my arms in Supta K before being given a variety of postures that would actually ENHANCE my ability to bind my arms in Supta K. I want to be making the choice to self-practice for the right reasons. To me, the right reasons are (1) a desire to obtain the most enjoyment out of practicing, which should ultimately provide pleasure and peace and (2) to improve the quality of my practices by not rushing through postures to which I ought to give my full attention just for the sake of getting to Supta K before the teacher leaves the room at 10:15 a.m., when ultimately, it's kind of a crap shoot these days as to whether I will even then GET the adjustment and as to whether the adjustment will even really HELP me in the posture. Truthfully, I feel quite a bit more happening in Supta K when I do it at home. At home, no one is rushing me out of Kurmasana. At home, I can breathe for 5, 10, 20 or 50 breaths in Supta K (with a belt between my hands) without being picked up by my teacher and told to press up into Tittibasana. I just don't feel like five breaths is enough in certain postures, at leat for me currently.

So there you have it.

Lucky for me, I have the motivation for self-practice. Like really lanky hamstrings on my short frame, it's a stand-out gift.



samasthiti said...

There's a song and it goes

"it's your thang, do what you want to do.
I can't tell you how to bust a move..."

There is absolutely no reason you can not do what you want to do. You are still practicing the form. You are still an ashtangi.

I feel like all those ashtangi asshole police that used to haunt your blog have really given you a complex about this whole thing...

Relax, don't obsess, don't make excuses, do your thang!


vivage said...

There isn't any rule that says, "Do your practice but only at the shala".

Don't feel guilty about any of it, you're the only one walking your road ya know.

RIchard said...

Hey its not supposed to sap your soul!! It's supposed to help you connect your individual soul with Paramatma, the universal soul (thanks wikipedia). Its a tool. A means to an end. Many paths to the top of the mountain. Etc Christ, asthanga starts to sound a tad like Bikram in the guilt trip department... :-)

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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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