July 14, 2013

Adventures in Ashtanga Home Practice: Airing the Dirty Laundry. ~ Marya Roland

So. I did my dirty laundry this morning… during Ashtanga practice.

Now I will air it.

Usually when my yoga home practice lapses into an occasional one-armed Down Dog with the other hand scratching my cat’s chin (Down-Dog!-KittyRules! pose) or my Drishti becomes an overlong and vacuous gaze into space, I figure it’s all part of what is discovered, what one “finds” on the mat—experiences of all kinds. No problem.

However, when I focus on the rhythm of a washing machine cycle or the hum of my iPhone on “mute”—as carefully as I ordinarily attend to my Ujjaiyi breath, I usually end up off the mat. A problem.

So I stopped, listened, gauging the stage of the wash cycle and if/when to hang the clothes, went downstairs, put my yoga clothes in a basket and hung them outside on this lovely summer day.

Yoga clothes are related to my practice…

Now where was I? It must be time for breakfast.

It’s true I am describing the state of my home practice today—not yesterday and not tomorrow.

I remind myself that these are merely distracted moments on (and off)the mat, despite the fact that for the past week, I have been yielding to the impulse to shorten and go easy with my practice.

Did I say my dirty laundry?

Am I losing the energy to practice?

Is this the end of practice as I know it?

Have I really become that old?

I doubt it.

Of a few things—I am more certain.

Tomorrow I will go to Lewis’ weekly led Ashtanga class. I will feel the support of a teacher and a group, enjoy a healthy sweat, leave happily and remember how much I love this practice.

I will do light home practice for a while. It’s a scary prospect: l may lose my brand new—ever—biceps, become less limber and worst of all—lose some poses. “I must move forward!” is zinging my brain.

Once again I will come home to acceptance and surrender. Making progress is a state of mind where I trade the wisdom, vitality, fluidity and (often) joy of the moment for a conditioned idea of what the present and future should be. ! It’s a sweet homecoming.

I will read what Rolf Naujokat says in the book Guruji:

But sometimes you see people, they just do half primary, they are so aware and in the moment with it and it’s so beautiful, going in and out with the breath, and some are hurrying through advanced series and look like a horse with a carrot. Realization can happen with asana or without asana because it’s already there…. The moment there is devotion toward God,the first step takes you there directly. …Yoga is…a tool that removes the veil of dust off our inner being.

I will discover wisdom for students in Kino MacGregor’s article about Ashtanga teachers in elephant, by substituting the word “students” for “teachers”:

Ideally, Mysore Style teachers have gone through a kind of deeply individual journey where the obstacles to true practice have presented themselves and the teachers have used the practice itself to work through these difficulties. Sometimes people have a beautiful practice just because they are good at asana, but they have not experienced a healing journey through the practice.

I will go to Richard Freeman’s book, The Mirror of Yoga and find:

So within our yoga practice, again an again we have to make a compassionate offering into the intelligence of our very own ego. We have to practice in such a way that we allow insight into the union of the body and mind, the inhale an the exhale…so that we experience our own merging into what we naturally perceive as our background—all that we see that is separate from ourselves.

I will continue to be Yogi Vagabhanda until I find “my” teacher or s/he finds me. I have been an itinerant Mysore yogi for about a year now(since my teachers Naomi Worth and John Bultman left town), and I’ve done dozens of workshops and classes on both coasts with just about every Ashtanga teacher you could name. Dear Teacher, I’m ready when you are!

I will continue my home practice. I will watch and see where it leads:

cleaner laundry and the road to Mysore?

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Assistant Ed: Stephanie Richard/Ed: Sara Crolick


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