Yoga is

He-who-shall-soon-make-a-fool-of-himself-but-for-now-has-a-handle-on-things says: “hi”.

Yoga is basically and fundamentally about melting the obstacles to a healthy maturation.  Individuation.  Growth.  Unfolding.  Blossoming.  Ing.

It’s hard to express – but try to imagine the most pure expression of school.

A place reserved for teaching and learning what needs to be known and practiced for the achievement of your values in consideration of the objective rules and requirements of our Reality.

School merged with playground

Curiosity and Joy.

Deeper.

There’s something sly to curiosity

questing beyond joy

questioning felt values

harvesting dissatisfaction.

Spiral progressions

through value-space:

a core conflict

enjoying undermining

coalesces through crumbling

Asana is an opportunity to practice moving w/ structural integrity in a breath-united way.  It’s a practice of bringing one’s parts together – as on the mat, so in life.  There’s a strong element of becoming comfortable with oneself – finding cosmic confidence to project one’s desires and perspectives into the world of others.  Learning to flow with one’s own nature, posturally and experientially, in the midst of other natures.  But also of destroying one’s habits.  Destroying complacencies.

Yoga is more fundamental than martial arts because it directly attacks the unreal aspects of one’s life.  Martial arts is an extension of this approach to others.

Considered from a slightly translated perspective, yoga is about the shape of our inner space (inner determiner of our conformation) and martial arts are about the shape of space around oneself (external shapes we have to fit into).

I think of the layers of structure of a protein.  Primary through Quaternary structure.

Yoga is about surviving the self while the martial arts are about surviving the other.

Seeing beyond the self to the Self.

The two together represent human attending to what presents itself: reality as it is: self and other.

Home Practice

I used to think “Home Practice” meant moving my laptop over to the yoga area and setting Rodney Yee loose.  Although not quite my introduction to asana practice (Community College), it served me well through the years and the moves.  Oh, I knew that I should eventually get to the place where I didn’t need it, but I wasn’t sure when that would happen and all my past attempts were lackadaisical.  Practicing to Rodney Yee or Tara Stiles or whoever is certainly good, much better than nothing, but practicing without such props allows the space for all sorts of depth that constant glancing up and listening to cues just simply opposes.

Lately, however, I’ve started to discover my own practice.

The most difficult part was getting started.  Do I sit around beforehand and design a sequence?  Desikachar’s chapter on sequencing is a good primer.  One could get lost for years exploring Yoga Sequencing by Mark Stephens.  But ultimately, I haven’t went into that all much, yet.  Should I have someone else design one for me?

At first, I let Yee get me started and then I’d branch off and just start doing my own thing.  The nice thing about that was that a lot of the cues he would be prattling off applied to whatever I was doing even if it was a totally different outward form.  I could tune in and out at my own pace.  I mean, when shouldn’t you tuck the tailbone?  When shouldn’t you lengthen the spine?  When shouldn’t you move to your breath?  Typically it’s obvious, if at all true.

Then, I started doing Surya Namaskara A’s in silence and adding in whatever feels right next while trying to keep in mind some basics about counterposing.

Probably the most prominent change this has brought about is that I’ve begun becoming my own motivator, my own spark.  The thing about class or videos is that someone is there pushing you on.  There is a sequence and each asana has a length of time to get into and hold and it’s almost always challenging.  When I used to try to taylor a solo session I would frankly peter out, my motivation bobbing with my hopelessly distractable mind and challenge would unappear.  Although I’m very self-motivated in other arenas of my life, I’d not quite made the leap to my home yoga practice at that level.

Then, I started to add in Virabhadrasana 3s while making sure to raise that back leg up level with the torso, and then to hold it there for a couple of steady breaths, all without an outside motive force. Et cetera.

 

Movement Mind and Breath

In the fantastic book Job’s Body by Deane Juhan, I read (pg xxv):

Movement is the unifying bond between the mind and the body, and sensations are the substance of that bond.

Being a meditator of sorts, this brought to mind breath (of sorts, because, apparently, it was out of mind when what I described occurred  :).  Breath is perhaps the greatest deliberate tool for achieving meditative states.  What I’ve long found so powerful about breath as a tool for concentrating focus is how it is continuously moving.  It is a moving anchor.  Kind of like how a candle flame is a moving anchor.  Staring at something that is unmoving, especially in partial light, or continuous light is an exercise in flowing with the physiological goings-ons within the eyes, as lights and darks invert and cloudiness undulates about.  That is its own sort of meditation in/on pratyahara, or detachment from the senses.  Or like hearing blood flow in your ears to the exclusion of other sound.  Metasensing.

Kind of like exploratory writing, too.  [“Without focusing on the view, search for the observer! {Tibetan Book of the Dead, pg. 48}]

Breath is great because the movement of it ripples throughout the body and even back into its next instance.  Perhaps there are reverberations of our first breath?  Still?

Breath is great because while it is an instance of continuous movement, it isn’t superfluous, like kata or asana.  There is only one movement that we have to be involved in at each moment, and that is breath.

Breath is great because it serves as an organizational framework for the self.  As the breath moves through the body a characteristic pattern of sensations can be detected and cultivated.  Awareness of the expression of this pattern can be used not only to anchor a structured sense of self, but as a reflection of the self and a tool for evolving the pattern and form of the breath and the body.

Is there only one such moving anchor within our bodies?  There are many, but another likely candidate is our heart beat.  This muscle too moves continuously throughout our living.  I can actually feel it in there, sort of galumphing away, feeling just like it sounds on TV, seemingly a little behind and under my head-centered self.

I won’t dig too deep into that well, for the now.  A lot of responsibility, one’s beating heart.  But it sure is fun to (watch the) heart beat to breath.  Breathing to the heart beat is probably a doorway into the autonomic process (as speech was into breath?).

In other words, just as the mind organizes the rest of the body’s tissues into a life process, sensations to a large degree organize the mind.  They do not simply give the mind material to organize, they are themselves a major organizing principle. (ibid, xxvi)

Yogautomechanics

I have a 1981 Diesel Chevette.  An unlikely car with 54 horsepower that gets about 42 miles per gallon.  On Monday, heading home, turning the key lit up the dash, but turning it further resulted in power failure.

I thought maybe it was the battery, so I replaced it.  That worked, although everything was very corroded.  I made a note to myself to change the cables soon.  That night, despite the new battery, I had another power failure.  Fiddling with the connections earned me a start.

The next morning nothing would earn me that start.

So, I managed to get to O’Reilly’s and buy some new cables and connectors.  So now you know.

But anyway, my point has to do with while I was replacing the cables.  That involved removing the positive cable from the starter, as well as some auxiliary line to a relay.  And too, the negative from its various grounds.

Simple enough, in words.  But working with matter in the real world is never so easy.  Firstly, I didn’t have all the tools required.  I had a socket wrench, but all my sockets except 2 1/2s  and a 14mm were for a smaller wrench.  So, I had to use a crescent wrench.  But the only crescent wrench available small enough to fit in the spaces was really cheap and kept changing size on me.  The starter was way back in the darkness and I basically had to contort myself to both fit my hand back there and my head down there in such a way as to be able to put the wrench on the nut and see what I was doing.  It literally took me 30 minutes or more to get one nut off.  I’m out of practice, but I imagine it would have been challenging for most people.  Ultimately, it required of me a sort of surgery-room intensity, all the while leaning over precariously with one foot sometimes in the air to counter balance myself.

Like I’ve always noticed working on cars, it was really hard on my lower back and my shoulders kept trying to store tons of tension.

Along the way, however, I realized that I was doing Yoga (very poorly).  All of a sudden, activity snapped into place and I started assuming asanas and then modifying them as required by the physical constraints of the problem.  I started thinking about the problem at a different level.  Not just, “fixing the car” or “doing Yoga” but, doing Yoga while fixing the car.

So, I need to get at that nut, eh?  Okay, Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3).  Go at it from this angle, then that one, then this leg, then that one.  That’s just a simple example.  There were mudras for the hands, because that nut, I had to start it with my fingers, because the 24 degrees I could turn the crescent wrench in that space were inadequate.  That required a lot of coordination between my fingers and my shoulders and waist.  Every motion became something done with purpose.

Anyway, I put the cable on wrong and it touched the line coming from the ignition, so I had to remove the hard-to-remove bolt again, although it took me half the time, and I had to rearrange all the cables so that the cable coming from the battery was as far from the ignition cable as possible.  In those spaces, and I really question the beneficence of the engineers responsible, that meant about the skinniest squeezed measure of my pinky.  But, putting the battery cable in that position reduced even further the wiggle room for the crescent wrench that already had been so cramped before.  24 degrees became something like 12 degrees, and there were tons more opportunity for the wrench to change size (in retrospect, I should have taped the size adjusting wheel in place…)

Attaching the positive cable the second time took about an hour.  There were other complications, but there is no point get into the minutia of that project.

We can do yoga anywhere.  The shower is a great place, too.  I don’t mean doing some Yoga while in the shower.  I mean ‘showering yoga’.  Asanas that involve the movements used to clean the body.  The shower is maybe the best place to have a good sequence of motions with purpose that you do on a daily basis.  Holds can be done on the rinsing.  A nice back bend to rinse the hair.  Forward bend to wash the feet.  Prayer hands behind the back to wash the back.  Stand on one leg to wash the other.  I’m sure you get more of the picture than you probably wanted.

But hey, there’s so many things to do, we best find those things we can do simultaneously, not in the sense of multitasking, a little here, a little there (fake simultaneity), but rather, in the sense of amalgamating purposes into multifaceted actions (true simultaneity).

Call it synchronicity.