Today is Guru Purnima and I do not know the rituals of the day. All I have is a heartfelt gratitude and reverence for all teachers, past and present, mortal and eternal.
Month: July 2015
Action is the key
A week of regular home practice, a brilliant class on Wednesday and less analysing. Not much writing except for the 1st chapter of the Yog Sutras everyday.
It is a period of repetition to learn at many levels. Writing the sutras down everyday has made it easier to memorise them. I hope to be able to chant them without needing to look at a book.
Home practice continues to be the standing asanas as it has been for a bit now. There is much work to do and I am happy to stand and learn. In the words of Guruji, “Freedom is gained incrementally and over time.”
I like to practise every day but don’t end up with an hour long session all the time. Some days I am tired, especially if it is a running day. But I still like to do something for 10-15 minutes. Sometimes life demands service and that becomes my abhyasa for the day.
Viparita Karani is my go to asana on such days. It eases my legs and allows my mind to quieten enough to hear my breath. Sometimes it is Supta Virasana with bolsters. That’s another favourite one, it works beautifully for my knees, especially after long runs.
Today was not one of those days but my mind was a little rebellious and it grumbled about practising everyday. So out with the mat and a good practice of standing asanas. When I practice, I can hear my teacher repeating instructions and mentally repeat them to myself as I extend.
Perhaps my desire for correcting my structural imbalances is also a factor in the fatigue I experience. I want to get Baddakonasana right the way it is supposed to and sit cross legged as much as I can. Ego, I want… , it is never ending.
After a long time, I used a pain relief oil and took the hot bag for my legs. Not for any pain but to soothe the overworked karmendriya.
Still standing and a right angle
Class No. 7 and still standing.
Today’s new introduction was ardha chandrasana. The odd times I did try it at home, I used a wall or the table for support. But we did it in class and without any props. In fact, we barely use any props. At the moment, it is more about getting the movement and learning the gross actions.
I couldn’t resist trying the pose at home while getting some coffee going. And my little girl yelled that’s a right angle. She is a good pair of eyes in my abhyasa and was responsible for helping me learn to balance in vrksasana.
While waiting for class to begin, I was watching another class in session and they were doing sirsasana. Every time I see the king of asanas I wonder will I be able to do it independently? Logic says yes but the mind likes to mess around. Anyways that is something that will come when I am ready.
The promise of Yoga
One of my favourite passages is from Light on Life by BKS Iyengar.
“As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of a divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound. So many seek this greater Truth in the heavens, but it lies much closer than the clouds. It is within us and can be found by anyone on the Inward journey.”
Ears are not for hearing alone
Today’s home practice was different. The asanas were the usual standing ones but I decided to observe my ears in them. I don’t know why the ears. It’s a barely considered part of my anatomy, one taken very much for granted.
Perhaps it was my little girl hurting her ear when she fell down on her cycle which got me to notice them.
It was interesting to see how much tension I held there right from tadasana to the standing asanas.
There is a small change in my samasthithi. I was able to keep the checkpoints in place and carry it into the other poses. Viparita karani is something I have started to incorporate into my day and it eases my legs especially on days I run. My breath is noticeable during these kind of asanas and there is a certain quality and sound to it. It’s still only something I sense but don’t fully understand.
Losing the beginners mind and finding it
Initially, I hung on to every word of the invocation, feeling the sounds on my tongue and trying to mind the meaning as I chanted it before class or practice. With time, it has become a little mechanical. The mental offering of my practice is there but the mindfulness on the vibrations of the sounds is not always present.
While repeating the invocation in class today, I went through a range of fluctuations. There was the fluttering to calm down. Then the Om settled it a bit and made space for the mind to quieten. As the invocation started, I dutifully repeated it but found my mind wandering and caught myself doing it. The whole chanting would have hardly taken any time but it felt long. At the end, I offered a mental apology and surrendered all that I have to the teachers, mortal and eternal.
Trikonasana is a challenging pose for me. I feel something holds me back from letting go. Looking at it objectively, I should have a greater range of movement downwards but I stop somewhere. This springs from a fear of toppling. I just want to keep it all together, a fragile binding and not have to go beyond my comfort zone. Perhaps what I need to do is break it down and build it up repeatedly. Until the fear goes and there is only joy in that process. Something to work on.
Today’s trikonasana work was on the arms, stretching the inner arm and keeping the tallness before extending downwards. The left hip and groin are tight so I don’t get a complete rotation on that side. Hopefully, that will also happen one day.
Trikonasana is getting a little more easier every time I practice. Not in terms of the alignment or symmetry just in the movement. Until tadasana is stable, I don’t see trikonasana getting anywhere in a hurry. On a separate note, the instructions in the book, Yoga: a Gem for Women by Geeta Iyengar, are starting to make some sense.
I started writing the sutras down as a means of studying them and now the project is almost coming to an end. This first round of going through the sutras has been a sort of familiarising process and I plan to get on with another round to start taking them one by one. Sort of like the Steps. At the same time I am also learning to chant the sutras to get a feel for the sounds. Experiencing the sutras with all my senses. Synesthesia again.
Same teaching, different teacher
Raya took the class this Wednesday and he really pushed us. Every class is a progression and we are challenged all the time. The asanas are more or less the same since the beginning but the instructions are getting more detailed.
My left leg is stubborn, it doesn’t rotate outwards, I don’t seem to get the shifting of the weight and the heel has its own agenda. I feel helpless and frustrated even while knowing that I just have to keep trying harder. It’s the ego that wants to do a good looking pose and have perfect alignment. There is the approval seeking attitude that wants validation and that is an area that I need to work on. I see what Geetaji meant when she said it took atleast 5 years to get some proficiency in asanas.
24 hours later, I am sore in the sides of the trunk, my mid-butt and the hamstrings. I like to think of these sore spots as markers for the action required in the asanas. Hopefully I can tap into it the next time.
The sequence included
Setu band sarvangasana