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Archive for July, 2011

Last evening Claire (our Australian) and Melissa (our Barcelonan), Pilljae (our Korean) and I were talking abou Abhijata’s class on Saturday morning. Claire has worked as a gardener, Pilljae as an artist. Melissa is a yoga teacher working on her neck injury in medical classes here, and I’m an innocent onlooker to everything. As usual, as in the past, as so many times before. More than one of us agreed that the asymmetrical leaf that Guruji gave to Abhijata to show us as an example of a mis-aligned asana (we were working on standing poses) had its own beauty. The class full of July newcomers, including all of us, was working very hard in only three asanas-trikonasana, parsvakonasana and parsvotanasana (tadasana, uttanasana and prasarita padottanasana I won’t count). We struggled to find the apex of an equilateral triangle when we shifted from utthita hasta padasana to parsva hasta padasana, and we struggled to find equality on the two sides of the rib cage in trikonasana and parsvakonasana. In the hips it was hard to find equilibrium in parsvottanasana. Many points were given, and we were exhorted to “synchronize” which we all struggled mightily to do. After talking with Usha in the morning (she was in the class, too), about how in our yoga practice we really have to, in a sense, work AGAINST nature. The body is so tamasic, and especially when there is an injury, it can be supremely difficult to get on the yoga mat, to the yoga hall, into a yogic frame of mind. Usha has had at least two serious pedestrian accidents, where she was hit by a rickshaw or car or motorcycle. I don’t know the details. But she, especially has worked incredibly hard in medical classes to recover from them. Melissa now is on the path of healing, as am I with my three numb left fingers. When there is something amiss, “practice and pray” can seem like paltry advice. It is in fact that advice that one senior teacher apparently gave a student with a knee injury. Some of us were offended, and thought that more details should have been given to the knee-injured student about HOW to prpactice, but in retrospect, I think that practice and pray is not completely bad advice. We have to experiment ourselves and see “what happens when.” There may be conditions that we develop which make certain kinds of poses contra-indicated–long headstands for neck injuries, for example. Or even NO headstands for some neck injuries, only “rope sirsasana.” Sometimes we become disconsolate when we come up against our limitations. Yet, some day we will be giving up everything, body and mind, friends and family, everything. What we could do, instead of completely fighting with nature in our “regular” practice, or practice during injury or illness, is create more of a friendly alliance between the rajasic mind and tamasic body. We can practice with respect and sensitivity for the gift of life we have been given, and use the practice for enhancing our awareness of where energy is flowing well and has a shape, and where is not flowing well and is instead abstract and unformed.
I know I’m rambling a bit today. A lot is on my mind in these last days here. Please bear with me and understand that we take in a lot when we make this journey. It can be overwhelming. But always food for thought. Asymmetrical leaves though we may be, we can still take the advice given at the last moment in Saturday’s class: let the brain be the tender part of the leaf where the wind catches it. Not the tough part of the leaf that attaches to the twig. We are, or at least I can speak for myself, I am, dug into my brain activity so strongly that to let go, even a little bit, is a huge shift. Yet this shift is what we are asked everyday to make, and we can continue to ask it of ourselves when we return home. So that way, life can be a little more itself, a little less “brain-centered.” Not to imply that willpower is not important, but that’s a topic for another day.

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