Saturday, August 12, 2006

I'm not doing gymnastics here...not that there's anything wrong with that...

Yesterday, as the Sister-in-Law and I were bending on the roof, one of my neigbors appeared with newspaper in hand. He proceeded to sit down and read. And watch. And read and watch. And that was fine. Everyone who reads this thing knows that I am the last person to object to a doting audience. The more the merrier. If no one's watching, why do it. OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration. At least I would like to believe. But come to think of it, I can't think of a single time that my mom and dad have come over to visit that I haven't whipped out my mat, gotten myself into some rather improbable pretzel shape and sang out like an eight-year old who's just come from a tumbling class: "Look at me!!! Mom and Dad!! Look!!! Look at this cool thing I can do!!!"

But today, when my morning walk with Lewis brought me face to face with him and his wife wheeling their 10-month old baby , he stopped and said to his wife, "You should see the gymnastics this girl was doing on the roof yesterday!" I debated correcting him, telling them with a snobby sniff that it's not gymnastics, it's YOGA. Ashtanga yoga. As in acheiving a meditative state through .... eh, whatever. I decided it didn't really matter, and I just thanked him and changed the subject to our co-op's proposed banning of dogs from the building. That's right. Banning of dogs. As in the Lewis Clause of the Co-op rules. Is he really that bad? I find myself taking this very personally since Lewis is one of the latest additions to the building's dog repertoire. But I digress. I will save the anti-anti-dog rant for another day.

Meanwhile, back on the mat....(that translates roughly as " I was saying" in "Matheadish", the idiomatic language of Matheads)...

The thing is, maybe I WAS doing gymnastics (calisthenics perhaps? After all, Surya Namaskar A bears a striking resemblance to Good Ole Squat Thrusts from High School Gym Class)...? The Sister-in-Law and I were chatting throughout much of our practice. And when Mr. Neighbor appeared with his newspaper, there was some three-way chatting as well. It's not like it was particularly meditative. It's not like we were practicing Ujayi Pranayama for the most part. And it's not like we became so engaged in our physical practice that the mental gyrations fell away.

Which brings me to a discussion that kind of got started on Linda's Second Trip To Mysore regarding whether a yoga practice is really "yoga" when the practitioner is fixated on the postures, and particularly on progressing through the postures at the expense of learning to float through the postures in an effortless way so as to remain "undisturbed" by the "play of opposites" inherent therein (as dictated by one of the few Sutras that addresses Asana practice in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras). I surprised my usually somewhat judgemental self (being at my most judgemental when I see myself reflected in someone else's behavior) by weighing in on the side of "Maybe it IS yoga after all."

To be continued....



boodiba said...

:) This ought to be really good.

I guess like with love there are all sorts of degrees? I'm not really sure how I feel about it, since I'm somewhat hypocritical. "A" and I were talking with his Dharma Mittra friend about the practice there, and it's a circus. Basically a free for all. So they were like, "Did you see that guy doing "x" and that other guy doing "y" and what about freaking "z"????? There was a time at the end of class where people can go into the center of the room and show off their most extreme postures. I listened to all of this with a strong aversion.

But then, when I do a good Kapo, inside I jump for joy. Same with my current Karanda fixation. I'm proud as SHIT of myself for being able to pick up my lotus, even if the ending isn't perfect (yet!).

So who am I to criticize this other studio's culture?

Anonymous said...

e. told us during the yoga/budhist retreat (jokingly, almost) that first series is for healing of the body, second for healing of the mind and third fopr showing off :-)....ivdp

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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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