What color is your Paschimottonasana?

Normally, I write my notes and then follow up with a blog entry. Today, I’m going straight for my reflections on class. Below, those not so interested in yoga can read more about non-yoga things. Is there such a thing?

7 am I went to Prashant’s class ready to observe. I thought perhaps I’d digest more just listening. He invited us to take the class. It wasn’t a large class. Here are the sentences and words that hit me. THE CURRENCY OF BREATH. He is talking about not just the value but what you do with the breath as you would when investing  you would consider it intelligently and invest some here and some there and then proceed to watch the effects of your investment. 

Again, today he talked about when you see two wise people conversing, keep your mouth closed. Instead listen, watch and observe. So when you are in asana and applying the breath, watch and observe this powerful force communicate with the body and step back.  We are always attacking, doing, pushing, twisting and this never advances us to what Prasahnt says is yog but instead keeps us on the bodily level of asana and this is the commercializations of yoga into yogaaaaaaa.

I’m still hearing his voice from the other day when he said there are too many things that make us feel bad about ourselves the practice of yog should not bring you down but instead fortify you for the calamities of life. 

Right after, I took the ladies class taught by RAya. It was my first class with RAya and it was great. The younger teachers are truly a combination of the Iyengars. He too was insisting that our practice needs to move away from being agreessive and instead be poetic. I know this does not mean lack of effort, work or the demands of “still further!” that we hear from the teachers. It is hard work, but they are saying we must eventually have this poeticism. This is a challenge as we are encouraged to work harder and move beyond are limits. There is no attitude of “oh, just do what you can that’s good enough.” No way. Even when you hear the cries of “that’s enough” that’s when they make you do more and break the barrier of your mental limits.   How do I work hard, maintain a high level of tapas, keep moving past physical and mental limitations and yet work with sensitivity, intelligence, creativity like an artist?  Maybe I’ll have an answer at the end of the month. 

He urged us to look at asanas and their variations as an artist with color. You might have 100red in Paschimottomasana and then you add the action here or there and that color shifts. Do you add white and it becomes pinkish or are you adding blue and it becomes dark purple. And how does the color of Uttansana and the color of Paschimottonasana compare? We did a series of poses all with similar shapes in various directions and were asked to compare. Paschimottonasana, Uttansana, Prasrita Padottonasnana, Triang Mukaipada Paschimottonasana, Urdvha Mukha Paschimottonasana 1 and 2, Kronchasana etc. 

Suppression vs deflation of the frontal thigh. Understand the difference between suppressing something versus deflating it. How to keep that area deflated, passive while in Adho Mukha Virasana or Parvottonasana or Triang Mukaikapada Paschimottonasana to Krounchasana. Linking this action, sensation from pose to pose. What is the difference between ADho Muhka Virasna with legs apart, together or feet separated? Watch the spine, the back. 

We must fall in love with the asana. Falling in love is a feeling that only you can understand through your personal experience. And he said we are all rolling the asana, smoking up the asana, getting high off the asana. “Man, I can’t live with out doing my practice, man without sirsasana I’m not able to do.” We all laughed and his youthful perspective hit home. You must not just eat the asana but savor it and digest it. We are all consuming the asanas, smoking up. YOu have to fall for Adho Mukha savasana and I would add get to know it and yourself as you do in the process of falling in love and being in relationship.  Be in relation with the asana. What does it show you, how do you argue, communicate, embrace that pose? 

So we can be rigid and aggressive in how we practice asana or how we integrate it into our lives. I have to practice, I can’t do x y or z before I practice.  I believe it is often an attempt to copy or understand the kind of passion , discipline that we see here. But it is unbalancing. One might be predisposed to this sort of discipline and it might be over the top or one might be completely undisciplined and rebel saying that they can’t practice like they do in India, it’s too intense but that is ‘smoking up” your Sirsasana and getting high on it. There is a false sense of penetration. Asana then becomes a consumption product rather than a tool of deep understanding and connection.  And remains on the body level of pleasure that Prashant criticizes as the direction of modern yoga. 

It is a balancing act that I will continue to explore this month

I ate a great comfort meal at the famous enough Chetak Hotel. They have the best masala tea and no where else do I relish white toast with butter.  I saved half my omelette for the cutie canine with the bum leg (photo on Facebook).  Reality of life. I saw a small kitten dead from most likely a car. Hours later, a black crow enjoying this treasure. I won’t get graphic. A loss is another’s gain. 

Good news on the housing drama. The young woman from Delhi that is staying at that yucky house turns out to be a Supreme Court lawyer!She scoffed and rolled her eyes at the landlords threatening me with legal action. It makes me even more irate that landlords are taking advantage of us.  Don’t ever stay at the bungalow across from the Intitute no matter what you hear. We have to protect one another. It’s possible with less attendance at the Institute landlords are getting desperate from the loss of their easy cash cow. That said, there are many landlords who are absolutely wonderful and supportive of what we are doing here and I for one will only stay at their apartments.  I think now I can finally drop my paranoia.  Ojala. 

I’m resting at home this afternoon but will do my homework as prescribed and then a well deserved rest.