Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why we quit

I sort of have an inkling as to why people quit Ashtanga while they are in the midst of floundering in a pose like Supta K. Not that I plan on quitting. But I feel that today I had a momentary glimpse of the thought process through which one might meander on the road to one day never getting back on the mat.

I haven't practiced yet today, due to a field trip with Adam's class. We went to Central Park to do some seemingly endless, and endlessly monotonous, bird watching with a guy who actually does bird calls ("kaaaa-kaaaaa, kaa-kaa-kaa-kaaaaa") and who must have the keen eye of an eagle in order to spot a Great Egret flying by against a non-contrasting sky, or to distinguish a Red Bellied Woodpecker from a Flicker (and here I am doing my best to distinguish a Flicker from a flickr). My attention span began to, um, flicker, about an hour into it. And it flamed out entirely about an hour later, which was about an hour before the kids started to lose it. We must have walked over three miles, and some of those three miles involved me hoisting Adam up on my shoulders, and when I tired of that, me walking around with an Adam as a backpack.

And now my knees ache. And my hips. Well, not actually ache. It's more like an itching sensation deep in my joints. But google it, and you'll find that itching is merely one type of pain experience, and at best, a precursor to pain. And in any event, it's a not-really-pleasant-joint-sensation, and that's enough for my mind to begin spinning the reasons and the causes and the possible solutions.

It occurs to me that having gotten myself to the shala 10 minutes earlier on Monday and Tuesday might have been just exactly the rope I used to hang myself (by the knees and hips). Here I was thinking that having those extra 10 minutes would mean getting deeper into every pose and really softening up my hips for my piece de resistance, Supta K. While I did succeed in doing so, in getting deeper into every pose and having much improved Supta K's both days, with my hands actually staying together long enough for Sir to cross my big toes, I think that it is possible that I was, perhaps, a bit aggressive with my joints without having realized it at the time. At the time, it felt fine. But maybe my body is happier when I merely breeze through my practice, rather than meandering through it.

If Sir were to read this, he would be rolling his eyes, if he were an eye-rolling type of person, that is. I mean, DUH. As Adam would say, "Only a doofus wouldn't realize that." Hasn't my teacher come straight out and SAID, in effect, "move it along"?

But anyway, so, here I am, wondering, do I practice now or what? Should I lay off my knees and hips? Which leads to thoughts of, perhaps it will keep happening that whenever I get close to really getting and holding Supta K, I will find myself injured. Which leads to thoughts of, well, maybe I just shouldn't DO Supta K anymore? Which leads to thoughts of, well, if I can't do Supta K anymore, then I will be stuck at Bujapidasana forever. Which leads to thoughts of, if I am stuck at Bujapidasana forever, then what is the point of continuing? Which leads to thoughts of, eh, why practice today if this pointless?

And if I had anything else to do physically that actually engaged my mind and body so thoroughly, that I actually enjoyed doing, then perhaps I would not bother to get to the mat at all today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day.

But damn, you, Ashtanga, you always suck me back in. I try to get out, and they PULL me back in. OH! For the love of GOD! Grant me sanity!!

My shrink suggested to me today that maybe it would NOT be such a bad idea to go out and eat to much and get stinking drunk. What is the worst that would happen, she asked.

"My yoga practice would be really bad the next day."

Cue the sound of crickets chirping.

"Um, yeah, I know, that doesn't seem to be so awful, right? But, like, it IS."

Cue the sound of crickets chirping, abruptly interrupted by dead silence.

"Yeah, I know it doesn't make sense."

Said the shrink: "Mmmm."

Mmmmm indeeeeeed.



Tiff said...

Well, eating like shit and drinking your brains out will make you feel like hell the next day...other than missing practice, feeling hungover is the worse thing that could happen.

stacey said...

finally did it. signed up for monthly mysore at my shala. "my" shala, one day of mysore and it's "my" shala. you inspired me last sunday with your sweet class. my body and mind are in desperate need of it. so i rose at 6 and was on the mat by 7:15. supta i come, wanna race? i'm kidding, i'm kidding. maybe i'll even start a blog.
only took a few years.

so thank you.

friend "s"

jody said...

you know what helps me in supta k, and I do this almost daily, is I tell myself that if I dont get anywhere near it that its okay. once I let go of the "payoff" then it seems to come pretty easily. I dont mean to suggest that its ALL mind over matter but being so bought into the outcome probably creates stress and makes the pose harder.

Last weekend I had a weekend where I went out and ate like shit and drank like a fish ... it HELPED!!
It reminded me why I dont eat like shit and just how bad drinking like a fish really is....for the next two days afterwards!

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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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