Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Intuit - Into It

The Yoga Shala August Furlough Program is going remarkably well. Of course it's only been two days. And one of those days included not Ashtanga, but rather, a shameless detour to Jivamukti for some dogma-heavy, vinyasa-light posing. But still, I'm waking up early, I'm getting my errands done and managing to squeeze in some teaching, and I am practicing yoga.

Today I happily went back to my Ashtanga practice, thrilled to experience all 60 vinyasas from the start of Primary Series through final resting pose. Today, I made an effort to stay with Sharath's breath and vinyasa count for as long as possible without having to pause the DVD (except at the end of his Surya Namaskar A so that I could add two more of A and two Surya Namaskar B's before pressing Play again). I managed to get all the way through Mari D before I pressed Pause again, at which point I re-duxed Mari A, B and C and then did D twice. Then I hit Play again and went with Sharath all the way through Supta Kurmasana, at which point I hit Pause again in order to do some deep prep work for Supta K. Of course, binding is still a long way off, but then I am so Supta Kurmasically challenged that I will probably be comfortably executing Eka Pada Sirsasana before being able to bind my damn hands in Supta K (please don't read anything into my linking to a Yoga Journal article on Eka Pada, rather than, say, Arjuna...it is not that I have gone over to the Yoga Journal side during this rebellious phase of mine; the YJ link was merely the first link that came up when I Googled the pose, what a surprise, that).

Ah well. The beauty of my Yoga Shala Truancy is that I have no one to whom I feel compelled (right or wrong) to prove myself in order to have the the next pose bestowed upon me like a reward (whether perception or reality, either way).

One might look at what I am doing and scoff, "Yoga Chickie is now doing all of Primary, although she has not yet mastered Supta K." However, I consider that to be a glass-is-half-empty perspective. Instead, I prefer to view it as "I am practicing all of the Primary Series, and will miracles never cease, I am struggling in only ONE posture!!"

It feels GOOD to practice all of Primary. It feels GOOD to drop back. It all feels like I am doing the right thing for my body. Why am I not "trusting" my "teacher's assessment" of the pose at which I should be stopping (this was a comment on a prior posting, and I wanted to address it here)? It is not that I am not trusting Sir's judgement. I never said that I didn't trust his judgement. It is just that I am doing what I want to do.

As Sir has said (I am paraphrasing), your yoga practice should elevate you, lift your spirits, bring you peace and happiness. If it isn't, something is wrong. In my case, stopping at Supta K was making me sad and anxious. I trust my teacher, but I am a big believer that the ultimate teacher is within ourselves. I don't want that to sound melodramatic or overwrought. But I have a great deal of faith in my ability to intuit what my own body, which I have been in for 40 and a half years, needs. But what it needs is only half of the equation. The other half is what my body wants. And what my body wants is to roll through the rest of Primary, which lets me end my practice on a high note, rather than crumpled up in a ball, cursing my body and what it has been through and waiting for the aching to subside before I can even consider pressing up into a backbend. As I am practicing now, when I finish Primary, I practically spring up into my backbends. And my drop-backs feel like heaven. And I know that I will stand up on my own in the not too distant future. Again, it's my intuition speaking.

When will Supta K come? Not for a long time. Inuition. So, what will happen when I go back to Shala X? Well, first of all, Sir is the only teacher who has EVER gotten me to bind in Supta K. So, when he returns to the shala, I will be thrilled to practice there according to his rules. Until he returns, I am doing really really well on my own.

Isn't it supposed to be this way? You find a teacher. When you can practice with your teacher, you do. When you can't, you practice on your own.

(To answer another question asked on another post - in late August, no exact dates yet, the Yoga Chickie clan will be travelling up through New England and Montreal to arrive at Mont Tremblant on August 27. I don't think that I will be able to stop in at Darby's because I will be en caravan, although I wish I could because it would be fun to see S and meet the rest of you northerners).

As Miranda Priestly would say (I finished that bit of derivative drivel in one day, mainly because Dustin Rowles basically told me I had to, and I do whatever Dustin Rowles tells me to do), that's all.




Julie said...

Mhmm... I'm much more of a "ashtanga police" I suppose... I agree that the teacher is largely within but I also agree that the human mind is infintely capable of really really fooling itself and that's where the value of a wonderful teacher comes in. Is it the ego wanting more poses? Is it really the physical? Does going further in any series make one this or that?

I still maintain a few things. If Sir is your teacher, you should talk to Sir directly about your issues with Supta K and your desire to do the rest of primary series. I guess, to some degree, I do feel like if you are self-practicing, you still respect the teachings you've been given. When I self practice I don't go beyond my last pose (though I have sometimes played around)... my regular practice is my practice whether I'm in the studio or on a beach. It's partially that I feel there is a certain level of truth in Guruji's words about the student being a good listener and doing what they are told.... a lot of ashtanga, though physically difficult, is about learning to check our out of control minds.. sometimes less IS more.

Is there any value into considering that maybe you aren't feeling comfortable with your teacher? I have no idea, just throwing out things I would think of for myself.

yoga chickie said...

I think that you make some really good points there...it is really hard to know the answers to the questions you're posing at this point since I am deep into my beliefs right now, right or wrong, for better or for worse. The easy answer is that Sir is away for most of the month, but the truth is, that is very convenient for me. I think. Again, I am not sure because if he weren't away, perhaps I would never have even thought to be away from the shala? Perhaps there is some transference going on, and I feel abandoned by his being gone, and by knowing that he is going to India for anywhere from six months to a year, starting sometime in the fall? I really don't know....


P.S. Almost had an appointment with "our" doctor tonight, but it got very complicated. So...Friday!

samasthiti said...

So Guruji used to teach primary and second at the same time. There are other teachers who "let" you do full series even when you can complete the full expression of the pose. David Swenson says "who's to say what perfection in a pose is". I should think it might be different for each individual.

And about full primary, I am a radical non conformist.
I think there is a flow to the series that is just important to understand as the "proper execution" of each pose.
Later poses help with earlier poses. It all works together.
To me stopping in the middle feels awkward and unfinished.

I think what it comes down to is how attached to the traditional teaching methods your teacher has? Talk to him. If you were on this coast you would have a plethora of ashtanga teachers ready to support you in your own personal practice. And even at these non traditional places( where people are super crim) I have practiced at, I have still heard the teacher say "next pose".

What's you're alternative?

vivage said...

I'm nowhere near an Ashtangi anymore but would it make a difference if you were to stop at SuptaK, do finishing and then go back and do the rest of primary as R & D?

I guess I've never understood why it's ok to do R & D as long as one calls it R & D. How does Sir feel about R & D?

yoga chickie said...

V - I was just going to email you. I had a great time with the ropes today! I got myself into a position that was kind of like Kate Winslet in Titanic when she and Leo D are all "I'm the king of the world!" And I just sank my hips down. I couldn't stay like that for more than 8 breaths though...it was kind of scary. But it was great anyway and definitely very very chest opening.

I wouldn't want to finish and then do the rest of primary. Like Susan said in her comment, there is a certain flow that I am seeking...


vivage said...

yeah, yeah, yeah, a perfect description of the pose. Yes, people do find it scary at first but soon you'll feel like your flying!

Sara said...

Hehe, I love your description of Jivamukti. Hear, hear.

I fully respect what Julie said, but I am a big believer in the value of a home practice, and I think it's great you've decided to explore that for awhile and do what feels good for your body. Mysore-style ashtanga is fantastic, but it is only one of many, many styles and schools of yoga out there. None of us are the same.

Enjoy your shala truancy. I'm sure you'll be happy to return when you do, but sometimes a little change is what you need to avoid burnout, and that sounds like what has happened to you.

Andrea said...

Oh...so jealous....I dream about moving back to Montreal on a daily basis (but it's so not happening). And Tremblant is wonderful too. My brother has a chalet there and my whole family spends a week there in December. It's so relaxing. Have a wonderful time!


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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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