Blog Predictions

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So the hurricane did no happen and I can leave as planned. That word plan has no credibility with me after all this back and forth. I am packed for half a month in a carry-on from IKEA. hope it does not burst and fall apart. Yes I have a duffel bag for shopping damages somewhere in there. So here is what I think is going to happen blog wise.

  1. from what I see on instafacetwitter A LOT is happening on that yatra and there is no way to document it all or otherwise I will miss it, and end up like those people that miss the event trying to take a selfie.
  2. It will be a “bit” (lol) superficial since I am not a religious scholar or an asana expert. Even if it blows my mind, it’s like instagram- the blood moon was way better in real life, and my description/shot will not do the event justice.
  3. wi-fi questions about access in  Uttarkashi have been met with avoidance and generalities ( I say that with zero animosity and tons of good humor) so you know the answer to that one. I may have to share when I am back.
  4. I am such a dork, I am already calling the Himalayas the HimAlias

Imported Mysore Magic

It might be a combination of all these things below,  or my powers of auto suggestion which others may refer to as flaky, or just plain coincidence and random generosity from un embodied energies. I had a soulful satisfying practice that has provided dopamine and serotonin to share.

Who knows, maybe teacher brought some shakti and other good juju from Command Central inside her presence, and I am not the only one risking being considered “impressionable” in less polite terms.

I do know that it was 90 degrees outside when I showed up and you know the people who were finishing warmed it even more for us. Sweat was leaving my body in quantities never before noticed.  I don’t enjoy a rug but I kept wishing for a rug, because there was no need to be squirting and spraying water all over everything for seated poses.

Slippery arms help all sorts of binds.

Enjoyed a slow count. That sounds almost offensive to me ears if I say it aloud.

The first no drama headstand away from the wall. I don’t expect a repeat but I enjoyed it.

I’m glad teacher expects a repeat because one of her biggest take aways from her August at KPJAYI was that transformation keeps happening, no matter how long or how recent your time practicing has been.  The secret ingredient seems to be when the teacher and the student both believe in miracles when coming to the mat. Then you can begin to identify and recognize the miracles outside the mat.

I notice that whenever I sound corny it’s because I’m happy. Incredible, we have been conditioned to be embarrassed about sounding happy.

Dividends

I know we all hear about a variety of opinions regarding practice while injured. They range from the clip of that guy doing a modified full primary with his buddy while having a fractured extermity (femur? I forget) to the recommendation of just sit and breathe. Since I can only experiment on myself, I will tell you that a week of rest without angst ( I think that was the secret ingredient) pays tremendous dividends in the form of renewed stamina, endurance, and of  course saying farewell to the pain. A 24, 32, 44, or 49 year old might not have to wait a week to feel all that, but a 57 year old chubby ex smoker really feels the benefit. I acted like the one time during my entire teaching career when I got jury duty. Like I had won a trip to Bali in the winter. Lovely lovely practice on the last day of August. Here is a sample of my purchases for my first trip to India.

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I haven’t been given the first pose of 2nd so I think I need this. My sisters in law have been very worried about me because they know me as someone who won’t use the facilities unless it is where I’m going to be spending the night. my other paranoid purchases are boring: The most paranoid is a neck wallet with RFID blocking lining. Leaving in 36 days. I remember seeing photos of the 2014 Yatra where many Ladies were wearing their beautiful saris. My friend Kristen (Whom I already miss terribly) brought me a beautiful hand printed raw silk sari back from India a couple of years ago. I like to play with it and know how to wrap it in a couple of styles. Unfortunately I look like a chimichanga or a burrito in it. so it will be salwar kameeze for me from FabIndia.

Advice Nobody Asked For

If you have trouble getting motivated to do your morning (or midday or afternoon or evening ) practice.  just remember that there will (or already have been) times when you need and miss it so bad but there is not a free moment to hide and do even a half assed Surya A. Then when you finally think you are free to go and do it, you get slammed with a 24 hour whatever pox it was, due to the stress and tension you were holding for 168 hours. All I know is that for the next few days I will remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to stand on my mat every day. I really get it when people think a consistent, 90 minute practice is an upper middle class person’s luxury. If you have to care for someone else’s basic needs, keep yourself clothed, fed, sheltered, and CLEAN, it is very tempting to say FTS I’ll just do some jumping jacks, some crunches, and some push ups for 20 minutes before work or go for a  quick run after work, and call it a day. Those who carve the time for a practice before their care giving duties begin have my respect and admiration, and I am not just talking about those with a 9 to 5 gig (do those still exist?) I am talking about those people who are in a situation who think of a trip to the bathroom as an actual break.

The Sincere Devotion to Strangers

Guruji & Timji

I am about to get all profane and unfactual, but I write short so no big deal. I get all Whitney Houston emotional when I think of Guruji at this time. A man I never met who decided to leave us and his body on my birthday. I get emotional when I remember thinking oh gawd, when  Oni the sub at my first ever yoga class said “my teacher Sri Pattabhi Jois…” and marched me through half primary. She drove 2 hours into and out of Manhattan to study with Eddie Stern before my teacher Val opened her shala. Val started her practice in Encinitas two decades ago with her teacher Tim Miller. Tim now comes to teach at her place and I feel honored when he helps me out.  She took her family to Mysore so she could study with Guruji until her boys could no longer miss school and other activities that make our children thrive. I get emotional when I think that she is now able to return to Mysore as an empty nester this year. I feel pumped when Sharath and Saraswati visit and feel  a rush like a teenage concert goer when Sharath says “Samasthiti” in those huge rooms. Yeah, pretty much like when I first heard a Joni Mitchell song, or David Bowie, or Leonard Cohen. And when I first heard them I could not understand what they were saying but I  knelt and bowed because I knew that it was (and still is) extraordinary and meant to make me feel so fortunate to partake. Are they all gurus and shamans? I have no idea. I am still hoping someone hits me in the forehead  so I can  feel that shot of shaktipat or the equivalent, like in those pentecostal tent revival services. I would prefer a hug but will not get overly choosy. So, I am just so down with having a day like Guru Purnima where we can collectively geek out on the opportunity to express our gratitude for feeling grateful that we did not decline or ignore the opportunity to learn what Guruji shared.

Our Yoga Stories

Folks, I am arriving to the part where my practice shows me that telling the story of my practice is becoming something sort of unrelated to my practice. I am at the point where I realize that I practice to interrupt the vrittis which later return here (and elsewhere) as the story of what happened, or what I think happened, or worse: What I think will happen next. Other times it is an exercise in standing out or self identifying as  being in the correct team (Ashtangi) or as separating myself by being against exhibitionism, through asana, or intellectual mental gymnastics, and against commercialism through those two methods as well. None of those identifications are necessary for completing a practice. My story only means that what I narrate concurs  and flows with the stories from others, and their stories resonate with me. It only means that the stories of others, mess up my narrative and create dissonance. My like or dislike of their stories or mine do not make them accurate or real. If I could describe what really happens during yoga practice (so tempted to put an acronym here) it would be an attempt to describe the finding of space that remains open and unfilled.

Today

You guys, I know there is funeral in Charleston today, and my president made me so proud that he was there representing us. But  as I am solemn, I am also so darn HAPPY that we have  had positive news for 2 days in a row.  Racist symbols coming down, ACA is not repealed, and my gay family members, and my gay friends who truth be told I love more than my gay family members, have full rights. Happy rest day & Namaste.

Satya

The older you get the more you realize that honesty and sincerity are essential to mental health and clarity. If you see my Facebook page, you will notice that I am overly fascinated/obsessed/perturbed  by the Rachel Dolezal story. Not to mention how surprised I am by the turns that the comments and opinions take on the matter. For instance, I can tell who does and does not interact with black women friends on social media who are weighing in on the matter. It is like two different planets out there.  But back to Satya-truthfulness. If we want business practices and work in general to change, we have to start challenging the way communication takes place in that arena.

I subscribe to Danielle La Porte’s newsletter/blog thing. If you don’t know her, look her up and you will either love her or want to choke her with your bare hands. She sent a piece this morning entitled: The Risky Business Of Being Sincere in Business which I cannot share because her link is broken. Minus the very engaging personal examples she shares, here is the gist:

Nothing is more Biz Legit than the truth, so usually go with that,

.Sincerity is a form of power.

If we were all more human in our work communications, work would be more humane.

To bring it a little more toward the “yoga biz”, a teacher’s bio has red flags when I read that they “have studied with many masters” and “have travelled all over India” and are “inspired” (not took workshops or learned from)  by well known established western teachers. Just tell me who taught you and why you think you can teach.

Extra Curricular

In our tradition we hear do your practice and all is coming which is so very true. We also hear you need to engage your bandhas and you have to be careful not to hurt your shoulders and sometimes you will hear that pilates or free weights will give you additional support in achieving this. For many years I felt both disloyal and mild lazy relief if I considered doing supplemental stuff outside the practice. My rationale was: if there were things that helped improve my strength would they be not part of instruction and included in the series? So lets say, that if you are average weight, average height, and on the young side of 40 when you begin, maybe primary is enough. If you have an unnecessarily large C section scar intersecting with a necessary but very long hysterectomy scar, started ashtanga at 50, and are kind of both fearful and lazy, you are going to need the type of assistance provided here

Sometimes I forget Kino is just 3 years older than my own kid. I mention this because good instruction skills are frequently innate, like in this case. I truly believe that her communication skills would translate into teaching you how to build a viking ship or make paella. Age is not a variable in being a master teacher.