Monday, June 22, 2009

Moonday Monday Mysore-Styled Musing

I had dinner the other night with SilentSpeaker - and over over the course of inexpensive DC sushi, topics roamed from academics to health to relationships and of course Ashtanga. We chatted about how somehow, no matter what our level we slip into some form of discipline in our lives that many who don't practice don't quite understand. From how and what we eat, time we go to bed and how sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously we generally carry out our daily existence.

But for what really?

How does knowing that one can get themselves into supta kurmasana by way of dwi pada or stand from urdhva dhaurasana - both skills that are not conventionally marketable in and of themselves to modern life - make us better people? Why do we come to obsess over things we can't quite figure out how to do and the celebration is short and yet very sweet when we figure these things out? Garnering a brief taste of pure happiness from a feat of contortion or acrobatics that we worked for - I would wager at the heart, this happiness ultimately lies in the work that went into "the achievement."

The practice is very zen - it's about nothing, except coming to know ourselves and how we react to our egos and ultimately how we react to difficulty and a sense of accomplishment. A Practice (be it Art, Law, Baking, Tango, Music, Writing, Asana, etc...), like religion, evolves over time, as society changes it should begin to change and grow to survive.

Practice at it's best is a living breathing thing.

Modern life really isn't compatible with living in a yurt and subsisting on the dew found on a lotus blossom and 8 berries.


We all attempt to find a sense of validation though community - people who understand what we do and affirm what we do. For many Ashtanga practitioners, it is that in some way we're all not crazy for getting up at 2:30/3 am to eat light breakfast of fruit before officially waking at 4:45 am to pull ones self together to practice at 5:15 am. We know that we all learn from each other - we are all teachers of what we learn from ourselves and our teachers.

What is Ashtanga in it's purest form? Part of me wants to say that really only Patthabhi Jois could have told us - but maybe that's too easy. What we learn from all of his students - our teachers - and our teachers teachers - is that everyone's practice is different. Each of his students teach differently because each of his students were taught differently - because he understood that everyone is different. Look at all of the "famous" students of Krishnamacharya, his teacher. B.K.S. Iyengar approaches the discipline from a different perspective but all to a similar end as I discovered when I found myself quite comfortably fully bound in yoga dhandasana (like the photo, except hands bound around the outside of the leg with foot in armpit) last Tuesday night. Fwiw, yoga dhandasana is part of 4th series of Ashtanga but was part of this level 2-3 Iyengar class.

Maybe the answers to all of this are with more with Krishnamacharya.
More likely, in my mind, the answers are collectively within all of us.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are neither answers nor questions. Both are part of the same delusion. Practice, and all is coming... "practice" includes all eight limbs.

Portside said...

Very true Anon.
Just do.

karen said...

Wonderful post. Thanks!

Seeker said...

Great post! May I pose this question: Would it be enough to say that everything you practice you do because you love it and you love what you have become because of it?