L.O.S. Weeks 20 through 25 Which Is More Than One Sequence But I Am Behind In Posting
So far in this blog feature I’ve focussed on the physical effects of the Iyengar program work, primarily because that was where I felt that I needed the most diligent effort and the most subtle attention. Since the recent weeks have gone even heavier on Headstands and Shoulderstands I suppose it’s no surprise that my brain should be feeling the effects.
I’ve been having more insights, both of the spontaneous “received” sort and also a lot of lumbering awkward contemplation. It’s like doing pushups for your brain. Def. helps with kid-related and sleep-deprivation folly, although the twins are now sleeping more or less through the night. And frankly after the emphasis of the last few years on the “heart” [insert question marks and tone quotes and funny, querulous faces here] I am taking solace in the body and yes, in the mind. Hell, maybe a lack of logical inquiry on these subjects is how my whole Anusara Certification experience went off the rails in the first place.
Here’s what I’m thinking now, after observing all the behaviour around me: John’s choices, the yoga community at large, the Anusara community specifically, this city, my family, you name it: it is the rhetoric* behind the practice of yoga, its argument, that I conflict with when I conflict at all. I have realized I have no beef with any one technique but I often object to the whys and wherefores. For example, I enjoy the METHOD of Vipassana. I object to being told that the purpose of practicing Vipassana meditation is to eliminate constant sowing of karmic, desirous seeds. I enjoy the METHOD of Anusara. I object to being told that firming my leg muscles is explicitly connected to my commitment as a student. Und so weiter. [Buddhism vs. life is suffering, the Yoga Sutras vs. the extraction of pure consciousness from matter, &c.] Since I have low self-esteem and a lot of guilt, fear and shame, any technique that uses the eradication of the self as its rhetorical thrust is going to diminish me further and break my heart. Not everybody has that psychological context for their practice and so different rhetoric of different methods will resonate in a shifting kontextual kaleidoscope of ways. Perhaps this is more coherent way of framing my objection to the teaching technique of theming that I brusquely threw aside in the post below.
It was the forced relationship of physical action to philosophical concept that ultimately blew my logic circuits and caused my teaching and personal power to diminish so wholly in the last gasps of the certification process. I mean, I may be a hippie but I’m not stupid. There’s no way that somebody’s ability to take their shoulders back literally reflects their emotional scope or capacity to feel. Out of this logical lacuna comes the overemphasis/masquerade on the physical execution of asana as spirituality, and I write this as somebody who loves the body, who is proud of what she can now do, who is having awakenings of all sorts by way of just *exercise*, never mind hatha yoga. They’re connected but they’re not explicity connected, and I doubt a teacher’s, any one teacher’s, ability to specifically tell you how, why and when they are connected. This “gap” explains those weird pauses in John’s teaching when people would go “aroo? whuh? that’s not my experience at all. but wevs, he’s on a roll and I like how my hips feel when I do this”.
Now, here’s where it gets weird. And this is probably rationalization of my commitment to John which of course now makes me look and feel like a chump. But this is the most accurate way I can express it:
– my introduction to yoga practice employed a rhetorical style that diminished the self and its desires, transcending the ego &c.
– and the rhetoric depressed me but I kept coming back to practice because there was something that I loved about yoga
– when I discovered Anusara it seemed to good to be true because it employed the opposite rhetorical device, the support of the self and using desire as a tool for transformation
– but inside I anticipated the hammer crashing down, the suffering, the self-doubt
– so when John was casually cruel or dismissive and my feelings were hurt I figured it was the other side of the coin, the suffering that I had come to experience from the axioms of other paths
– and the worse my experience got the more I thought I was serving others because I sure as heck wasn’t serving myself
– those who never resonated with Anusara pinpointed this self-serving egotism as the reason for its “unyogicness” which further amplified my conviction that the worse I felt the more yogic I was being
I am also coming to see more clearly that yoga is the closest thing to what I really want to do, which is be with good people, taking time out of the rhythm of an active day to be inside ourselves and our bodies, and to talk about important stuff that doesn’t seem to lend itself well to just art or music or temple or church or a night conversation with your love, although it’s inspired by and linked to all of those things. I am wounded, perforated, by the onslaught of all the recent “that’s not yoga” posts and essays. I have no arguments from authority on which to stand to say “yes, it is” so I guess all I can say is, all right, no it isn’t, but it’s a convenient linguistic shorthand to encapsulate what I want to do [and it wouldn’t be the first time that English has appropriated another language’s word and in doing so has modified the meaning. It wouldn’t even be the first time this has pissed people off.].
I’m still not actually sure what is happening in my Iyengar experience, but it’s awesome. I have a theory that it has to do with the thoracic nerve that controls the serratus family of muscles, but with a sample size of one and the Crossfit/other physical activities variables running unchecked we’ve got ourselves some pretty bad science, here. I am feeling better. I am stronger. I am trying to live like a leader, a leader of a tribe of one. I will try not to let mySelf down again.
*from the Wiki: “an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations”