Yoga Vita

Musings on Yoga, Life, and the Yoga Life


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I’ve moved to Twitter.

Meet me at Two Wheels N Tofu!  Nanoblogging on yoga, cycling, nursing, food, Seattle, well-being and good living.

http://twitter.com/twowheelsntofu

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Yoga on CD: Help or Hinderence?

Sharath\'s Primary Series CD

I’m thinking about buying the above led primary CD to help keep myself “on track” when I’m practicing at home.  I’m not sure whether this will be useful for my practice or if it will just be another “thing,” another object of attachment.  I don’t know.  I’ve never practiced with a CD or DVD- – once, I bought Shiva Rea’s Yoga Matrix, but I just ended up sitting there and watching it. . .


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Thanks, Mr. Iyengar

In Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, BKS Iyengar posits in his explanation of the sutras on pranayama that “the implication here is clear [clear as mud] that the sadhaka who had to struggle initially to cultivate a yogic way of life by self-discipline and study, now [after the practice of pranayama] finds his efforts transformed into a natural zeal to proceed in his sadhana.” So there’s hope for those of us who are dunces at self-discipline. I came across that juicy tidbit last night. (I got about half way through the second pada last summer when I set the book down, not to be touched again for a year. . . I’m all out of novels at the moment.) So this morning I did my full pranayama practice (which really only takes about 15 minutes) before asana, and it was fantastic. I felt motivated, I felt – – could it be? – – zeal! Thank you, Mr. Iyengar. I’ll be doing my pranayama regularly from now on.


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Transition and Discovery

Mysore practice a few days a week combined with home practice a few days a week is one thing. All home practice all the time is going to be quite another. I’m going to have to muster up an uncharacteristic amount of will power or figure out a good system or something. Because the yoga’s not just going to do itself (except for on those rare days of amazing, magical flow. . . aaah). I need a plan.

AYS being closed and gone forever, I’ve weighed my options and decided to go the all self practice route, at least for the time being. On the mysore ashtanga front here in Seattle, the other option is to practice with Mr. Troy at Velocity dance studio, which sounds like a fabulous option indeed, but- – it’s weird- – I feel like I’m not ready for a new teacher. I guess I’m kind of greiving the loss of the teachers I’ve depended on for just over a year now- – in fact, it feels kind of like getting out of a strange breakup. I need to break free and go it alone for a while. (I had no idea I was so emotionally involved.) The idea of having some space to turn inward and really observe myself and my practice sounds very attractive right now. In fact, I’m craving it.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy. However, I am lucky enough to have a fantastically supportive partner who cares about my yoga practice because I care about it so much, and he’s volunteered to be my project supervisor of sorts. I’m supposed to do my full practice with the twosies three times a week and at least an honest effort at something the other three days and report back to him. Presumably he will give me a scolding if I don’t meet my goal or something. At any rate, it’s helpful for me to be even slightly accountable to someone besides myself.

This might also be a good time to re-integrate pranayama into my daily practice. The lead teacher of my yoga teacher training, Paul Dallaghan (look at him–isn’t he cute?), is a longtime student of O.P. Tiwari, and as such prescribes individualized pranayama practices for each of his students at the end of training.

Paul and SKPJ
Paul and SKPJ

Which of course means I never took it very seriously. I was travelling in SE Asia for four and a half months after training! By bicycle! I didn’t have time for extra practices (I told myself). But now feels like a good time to pick it up. Really and truly, I have this feeling in my bones that the next few months are going to be a great time of discovery. . .


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Flow, Escape, and My New Secret Obsession

Flow

I love those days when asana just seems to move through me without any particular mental effort of my own. I just set my mind aside and go, one posture flowing into the next in a long, intuitive chain. It’s one of the benefits of working on loosening up, I suppose, but it also seems to be due to a bit of grace, unasked for, undeserved, and freely given. I don’t want to say “I did it” because that seems to be an oversimplification at best. Maybe it’s a nice alignment of the planets plus a pinch of sunny weather plus the lingering effects of premenstrual relaxin. Maybe it was the grace of Ganesha. Plus I did it. Woo hoo!

I should point out that this experience of natural flow doesn’t mean asana was easy–it was as strenuous as ever–it’s rather that it had a wonderful feel to it. Presence. Ease. Calm absorption. Thank you, universe.

This brings to mind a passage from a book I recently read, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. It is an excellent book, delicious to read, which is why it’s words are still rattling around in my head. She recounts her Zen teacher saying, “When you do zazen, you should be gone. So zazen does zazen. Not Steve or Barbara does zazen.” She extends this to the practice of writing. Writing does writing. Yoga does yoga. Sounds a bit easier that way, doesn’t it?

Escape

I’ve been quite busy and in my head a lot lately. I’ve started taking new classes, embarking on a new volunteer position at the hospital, strategizing around ways to improve things at work, and on top of that, I’ve been compulsively devouring printed material. (Not literally, okay? I mean I’m reading a lot of books at the same time. Well, not at the same time exactly , but alternating. Anyway.) And whenever I get all cerebral and out of body, the energy of it all seems to stir up dreamy visions of escape. As in, I want to run off to some little island somewhere, and build a studio and become an “artist” of some sort (doesn’t really matter what kind), and change my name, and wear bright mismatched clothes or maybe just all white, and I just want to go absolutely mad. Feral, even.

Which makes me curious about the concept of escape. If I sold all my things and moved to some far off land for some completely irrational undertaking, would it really be escape? Or would it be a kind of diving in? I guess it all depends on one’s mindset and intention. I should rephrase that: It absolutely solely depends on one’s mindset and intention. The intention defines the personal meaning of the action, plain and simple. (The social meaning is another story.) Which is why. . . it doesn’t really much matter what I do. I can keep on doing the same old thing, or something new. The question is, am I escaping? Or am I diving in?

My New Secret Obsession

And now for something less philosophical. Or more, I don’t know yet. My new secret obsession! (Ooh la, la.) Yin yoga. Remember how I tried yin as something to do when I was dizzy for a week and taking a break from ashtanga? I can’t stop! I looove it! I’ve been practicing a sort of hybrid of ashtanga and yin when practicing at home, usually starting with the standing sequence and then moving on to a long, slow yin sequence. The practice of holding poses in a soft, passive way for longer periods of time has seriously opened up some areas that have been eternally challenging for me. A certain bit of my hamstrings. My pelvic area, especially my hip flexors. I haven’t experienced a major change yet, but I’ve experienced some change, which is plenty wonderful.

I used to think that when people were talking about “yin yoga,” it was just code for “easy yoga.” I thought, oh yeah, nice, I like easy yoga too. Now I understand quite clearly that it’s its own little thing. And a lovely little thing it is.