NEON adds some punch!
NEON adds some punch!
Another Etsy find which has me reaching for my credit card. I especially love the ‘OM’ 🙂
1. Two hours where I’m out of my head and into my body.
2. It’s exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time, which leaves me calmer and a nicer person for the rest of the day. Sweat is important.
3. How every day is different – today my body felt like hell; no strength and achy. On Saturday I felt amazing – flying through two hours with jump throughs and jump backs after every posture. One can never become complacent and it always is worth asking: “Why am I feeling like this?”
4. Awareness that emotions sit in the body – witness my tears after any back bending today and how all my anger is sitting in my right adductor
5. Proof of our capacity to change. I remember when I started and couldn’t lift my own body weight…and how I can now do all sorts of things I never imagined…with many things still to accomplish. It’s humbling and soothing – everything comes when it’s meant to and there is continuous transformation.
6. Proof also that practice really does make perfect – nothing happens without hard work, but application and focus always leads to a favorable outcome.
7. Breathing. I don’t do enough of it. Obvious: oxygen is vital.
8. Core strength. In the literal and figurative senses.
9. Muscles. Who doesn’t want to look better naked?
10. All the other changes that come about with a constant yoga practice – wanting more and more to do everything to do with yoga and to live a yogic lifestyle.
And so I just may be saved by asana.
After 5 weeks I came to the conclusion than Ashtangis are a weird bunch. Mysore is full of ‘westerners’ who journey across the world to a dusty town where sickness and meltdowns are not uncommon. They then practice yoga whole heartedly and when they aren’t practicing, they’re talking about yoga and giving advice about yoga and swapping just a bit of yoga gossip (“She’s not practicing at the main shala”; “That guy smokes a lot of weed”; “He can’t bind in mari D”…). Yoga is supposed to beat down the ego, but there are certainly some ‘hot shit’ practitioners out there, with a whole bunch of Sanskrit bandied around.
There’s a definite divide between those who practice with Sharath and those who practice elsewhere (that would be me). Main shala is main shala people. I’d definitely like to experience Sharath’s energy, but as a first timer to Mysore (in peak season), Sheshadri and his potent adjustments (the man stood on my hips in a backbend for God’s sake) was just fine by me.
I think it happens with any collection of people who are passionate about something, be it runners or cyclists or golfers. There are levels of passion and levels of skill and it’s a club. I liked being part of the Mysore yoga thing (even if I wasn’t really, because I hadn’t had Sharath gaze upon me with his all-seeing eye), but crikey, at times I just wanted to get up and shout “It’s just yoga goddamnit!”.
And then I’d get on my mat and practice through some very limber days and very, very stiff days. My ‘yoga butt’ got beyond stretched by the teeny tiny man (but very big yoga crush) and I found myself hobbling around most days post practice.
Everyone’s asking me what India did for my practice and I’m not sure how to answer. It certainly loosened up my body, and I saw some inspiring practices, and managed to maybe-perhaps-almost get a jump back, and to drop back and stand up from backbends (oh, who am a I kidding? Every time I drop back I imagine plummeting into the floor, my arms unable to support me; and every time I think about standing up, my brain freezes and it seems entirely impossible).
I think what India and Ashtanga does is more subtle than core strength and muscled arms (although a little muscle flexing in the mirror never hurt anyone). It’s about seeing the absurdity of yoga politics and yoga obsession, laughing at it all, and knowing that standing on your head may just help you through some head-hurting dilemmas in years to come.
Here are some fab yoga blogs from Mysore. (I had every intention of blogging while there, but India had its way with me and sapped any energy I had for anything other than practicing, eating and laughing).
India had me. It’s the kind of country that grows on you. At first you arrive and wonder how on earth you’ll make a week and not get some disease or get pulverised in the traffic, and little by little the noise, chaos, colours and spice (in every sense of the word) get right under your skin.
Don’t get me wrong. Some days I felt truly overwhelmed, with senses thoroughly overloaded. I missed my comfortable home, pillow, mattress and the cleanliness I had always deemed necessary. The days I had to fight with rickshaw drivers for fair treatment and the day when I realised we’d been duped by false promises of an Ayuervedic cooking course, these were days I wanted to take to my bed and stay out of India’s way for a bit. The hardest were the stray dogs, painfully thin mummy dogs, cows with a rope tied from front leg to neck (to prevent what I’m not sure…do cows make a dash for freedom as a matter of course?), and the general state of grime and poverty that confronts you at every moment.
But soon enough I’d need chai and yoga and lunch with friends (that required a speedy scooter ride through the city), and there it would be again – aliveness. And that’s India – alive, in every colour under the sun. There is no “western” gray middle ground, no lonely individualism and no isolation behind minimalistic white walls. It’s community and extremes and in-your-face living.
The yoga was a blessing. How amazing to be able to jump on a plane, head to India and practice for five weeks with a diminutive, iridescent yogi, just to deepen one’s practice? And how amazing to take five weeks out of one’s life and live in an alternative universe, so very different from all the routines and worries and commitments back home? And now that I am back, I feel that another few months would’ve been perfect, and why not just open a little guest house there, decorated beautifully, with a garden out back, rescued dogs on couches and yummy, healthy veggie meals cooking in the kitchen?
I feel a little like running off again. But yet, it’s also nice to see my cat, hug my mom and head to Woolies for groceries. Feelings of ‘spacey-ness’ will probably take a while to subside; I’m just hoping to integrate some of the ‘life’ I found in India – the very present, rainbow-hued aliveness – that will make facing 2011 challenges head on easier…No mediocrity or censoring allowed.