Tuesday, July 31, 2012

les mots et les choses

When I'm not practicing yoga or advising students on their study abroad options, I'm usually reading about yoga.  I was thrilled today to read this post by the Ecstatic Adventures of the Exuberant Bodhisattva.  Why was I thrilled?  She put a name to a thing, a part of my yoga and general experience for which I had no name: the sad Mammoth.

 Now that I know what the sad Mammoth is, perhaps I will be able to conquer it!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Inspired by...Batman?

Pincha Mayurasana has been a very tough pose for me.  Kate O gave it to me in Boston, so at least 2.5 years ago, and maybe longer.  She told me that I had to start trying without the wall.  I moved to Kentucky and had no teacher and ignored her.  This went on for a year until I started practicing with Greg in Philly.  He started working the pose with me.  We did finally get to the point where I could practice the pose without the wall.  But it took a long time.

At SYS we practice in rows. The room is cozy.  So we're packed in pretty tight.  I discovered that if I got in early enough, I could get in the front row and always have the wall in front of me.  G was on to me, but didn't make me move. 

This allowed me to practice pincha with the comfort of the wall, but without actually using the wall.  Tricky!  But then something started to happen.  On Sundays and early mornings when I practiced by myself, I still wanted to be right next to that wall.  I had developed an attachment to the wall.  I knew that I needed to take a leap and break the habit, but it was getting more and more difficult.

Then, we saw the Dark Knight Rises.  I won't get too into it and spoil it for those who haven't seen it.  But there is a scene where they address fear as a tool rather than a hindrance.  This inspired me to use my fear rather than caving into it.  My fear of falling over could keep me in balance in pincha.  Inspired by Batman, I practiced Pincha in the middle of the room for the first time in several months.  It felt fantastic. 

Here's a video of my current teacher Angelique in pincha and karandavasana:

An odd thing happened on the way to enlightment

Yoga changes the body and mind in many subtle and more obvious ways.  Take for example my relationship to creepy crawlies.  I grew up in Pennsylvania and am now back after a nearly 11 year departure via Boston (10 years - very few creepy crawlies - must be too cold) and Kentucky (1 year - lots of creepy crawlies, some I've never seen before and hope to never see again). 

One thing that we have a lot of here in Eastern Pennsylvania are these guys:

If you are unfamiliar with this, it is as creepy as it looks here and it's fast.  They seem to come out most when it has just rained.  They apparently take care of other pests, but that doesn't make them any more endearing.

So what does this have to do with yoga?  My reaction to these friends used to be to grab a rolled up magazine and smash it's disgusting little guts all over the place. 

A few months ago, I encountered one in the yoga studio.  This was a conundrum.  It felt really wrong to kill in the sacred space where I practice.  So, I kept an eye on it and then alerted the studio owner to him when he came in.  Larry picked the little creeper up and took it outside unscathed.  He did the same yesterday when one crawled across another student's mat.

And here in my home, I've seen two that I decided to let go.  The cats could get them if that was in the cards.  Otherwise, non-violence ruled the day.  Don't get me wrong, I'm no angel.  Another one was uncomfortably close to my bed and was not so lucky.  But I'm letting 2/3 creepies live side by side with me. 

When during my 10 year practice did this shift from screaming and squashing to watching and releasing occur?  It's just one of many strange things that happen to the yogi. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Working It

My practice is getting kicked up a notch and not entirely voluntarily!  The new SYS teacher has a fine eye for the details. All those little nuances that either fell away innocently over the years because I forgot about them, or that I never learned correctly, or that I maybe started to ignore in my year of practice without a teacher are now being called out, one by one, week by week.  The result: I'm sore and tired, but my practice is becoming more focused and refined.

It's funny to me that a daily practice of a set sequence can change even after 8 years.  It's one of the wonders of Ashtanga.