practice yoga

Ashtanga forever

This article is just too important not to post in multiple locations. I am becoming more and more convinced that my ashtanga practice is essential as I grow older. It’s not just for youngsters, it’s not a fad practice. Check this out…

Where I found it, with nice pictures:

http://ashtangapictureproject.com/teacher-started-ashtanga-fifties-now-authorized/

And the original source on FB:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/stair-calhoun/ashtanga-yoga-its-not-just-for-the-young-by-karen-cairns-kpjayi-authorized/657201010995139

 

 

 

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Mysore Myths, part 2

Look at your Mysore self-practice teacher, now back at your mat. Now back at your teacher- is your teacher practicing? Are you practicing? Eyes back to your mat. Sadly, your teacher is not practicing. Your teacher would be practicing if there were someone else to teach Mysore self-practice this morning; but, there is not. Eyes back on your mat. Your teacher is now looking at you and wishing that they too had a teacher to assist them during their practice. Are you present in your practice? You’re now realizing that your self-practice is possible today because of the sacrifice your teacher has made. So honour them by focussing on your practice.

“Mysore-style is where you get adjusted.”

Some practitioners have had yoga teachers who like to jump on, climb on, or otherwise man-handle a body into a posture. Some people like this because they feel they’re being ‘pushed’, ‘challenged’, or ‘opened’. (I have also seen the word ‘cranked’.) This style of adjusting is not in line with the first yama ahimsa (non-harm), and I can assure you, experienced, long-term practitioners of ashtanga vinyasa avoid these teachers like the plague they are. No good can come of forcing a posture into a body (or mind) that is not ready.

So what am I paying for?’ you might ask. First, a dedicated space and time to practice. Because we all know that rolling out your mat at the foot of your bed every morning hasn’t been working so well for you. Second, Mysore-style teachers observe a practice as a whole. If you’re struggling with something, we can usually help. And by ‘help’, I don’t mean ‘jump on’, ‘force’, or ‘crank’. ‘Help’ sometimes means redirecting the student’s focus (i.e. breathe!), or leaving the student alone to figure it out on their own.

Third, and this is the big one, teachers share the shakti energy of the lineage absorbed from their teachers and amplified through their own practice. We are here to share the practice with you, not to force our own practice on you. When we adjust manually or verbally, we do it out of love for the practice, and because we love our students. And love shouldn’t hurt. Nor should it be demanded like some sort of commodity.

So do not come into my space with an agenda of ‘getting adjusted’. And to further manage expectations, I’ll let you in on my adjusting philosophy:

1. If you’re new, I don’t adjust you. Even with beginners I won’t adjust until an understanding of the initial sequence and breathing has settled in, and that you are committed to coming. This rule also applies to people I’ve worked with before who have gone missing. So don’t expect anything from me until you’ve been coming regularly for a few weeks. Yes, weeks.

2. I start with verbal adjustments, because if you don’t listen, how can we build a relationship? Being able to process verbal adjustments demonstrates knowledge of your left from your right, and that a mind-body connection is present. It also gives me an idea of how easily distracted you are. 

3. Before manually adjusting someone, I look for a minimum amount of strength and flexibility required by the posture and an awareness of where the posture is going. I also look for correct breathing and a sense of calm. Because if I add my asana to your asana and you’re not strong enough or flexible enough, things are going to go pear-shaped and injury will occur.

4. I adjust more intensely on Mondays and Tuesdays and then I back off as the week progresses. I want to see that the effort invested has been retained and incorporated in a practice. Friday is an adjustment-free day. Yet another benefit to daily practice.

Lots of hard adjustments aren’t bad, but they’re not suitable for every day. If you want to be challenged, go to a workshop and get adjusted. Or even better, go get a massage! Afterwards, return to your mat and maintain your daily practice, which usually translates to fewer injuries when you attend those challenging workshops. In order to maintain a daily practice you can’t always be limping to your mat from all the adjustments the day before.  And to be honest, I don’t have the energy to adjust you every day in every posture, because I have to get on my mat too!

Ultimately, ashtanga vinyasa is a self-practice. Come to Mysore-style classes with the intention of self-development and the pursuit of peace and meditation on the mat. You will never leave disappointed.

Mysore Myths, part 1

There have been a few issues recently that have made me very, very grumpy. Hrrumph! Blogging fingers ACTIVATE! Stay tuned because this is just the beginning.

Queen of the East Village recently wrote a fabulous ode to the humble Mysore-style teacher here. I’m thankful for this blog post because sometimes I would love to remind travelling yogis everywhere of who it is who stays home and keeps the home fires burning (shala space/practitioner base) while we wait for your return.

More on that later. But first…

“Mysore-style is not for beginners.”

At Ekam, Mysore-style is for beginners, and I have gotten rid of any and all ‘beginner’ labelled classes. I’ve stopped targeting classes to those who brand themselves ‘beginner’ when really they are just uncomfortable or inconvenienced with being outed in a yoga class as either inflexible, weak, unbalanced, or all three at the same time. I also consider it a form of molly-coddling and generally patronizing to the practitioner. One thing Mysore-style classes clearly demonstrate (if I could get people to come) is that we’re all beginners. But you can’t be a ‘beginner’ until you take that first step and get on your mat!

Lately, in this New Year’s Resolution/Goal setting season, I’ve received emails asking if I do privates, or if I run beginners classes, workshops, boot camps, etc. I DON’T because:

  1. I don’t like the intention/expectation behind ‘private’ classes; you/your practice is not so special that you need me to personally watch you do it. I’ve run so many ‘private’ Mysore-style classes and I can assure you, it’s uncomfortable for both teacher and practitioner. An ashtanga practice is a self-practice, not a one-man/woman show.
  2. Short workshops/weekends/camps are simply a short spurt of activity usually followed by a lengthy down time wherein the student searches for their next yoga fix. One leaves these sessions thinking they’ve ‘learned’ something, but if they don’t have the self-discipline of a daily practice there’s nowhere to invest what they’ve ‘learned’.

Both of these situations ignore the fact that ashtanga vinyasa is a daily, personal practice. And the only thing that reinforces a daily practice is a daily practice. So my response to inquiries about private classes or beginner workshops is to come to Mysore-style classes! Especially for those with no experience. Mysore is an effective combination of both a private session and a workshop. The teacher gets to work with practitioners personally, and the practitioner receives benefits from other practitioner’s experiences, as well as reinforcement of the practice in a group setting. This traditional method is hundreds of years old and it wouldn’t be around today unless it really worked. In the past few years of maintaining a Mysore-style shala, I have developed a profound respect for this method and the practice. It keeps me honest as a teacher and a practitioner. As long as you get on your mat, it will work for you, I promise!

After a few weeks in the Mysore-style self-practice setting, I encourag new practitioners to start attending weekly led classes; usually around the time they reach paschimottanasana. Led classes feel like a wonderful vacation after a week of hard work. But again, the daily practice has to be there for the method to work. For those who attend only led classes once or twice a week, ashtanga can feel a bit brutal and unrelenting. The beauty comes is in finding harmony between the two.

The inspiration for this blog came from here. Love the meme!

little things (matter!)

i’m training. that’s really all to report. training, training, training. there’s a certain relief (and release) that comes in the back of your brain when you figure out that, you don’t know how, you don’t know why, but whatever you’re doing is working. all you need to do is to keep showing up and it will all work out ok. ‘work out’ being the key method to working it all out.

how do i know?

  1. i stopped wearing insoles in my pk shoes. the mornings after jams when i put my feet on the floor and take those first steps- it doesn’t hurt anymore! ah, sweet bliss!
  2. my landings are quieter. usually.
  3. i have so much more confidence moving around the environment. it’s all starting to fall into place.
  4. i’m practicing more frequently, but getting fewer and fewer scrapes and bruises. radular!
  5. i realized a few jam sessions ago that i actually am strong enough in the shoulders to get over those walls- no need to stop and curse and switch gears before moving on. there are a few other technical difficulties, but i can’t blame weak shoulders anymore so will have to find another excuse.
  6. i can get one of my legs behind my head again (eka pada sirsasana to the yogis). yiHAH!

Here’s an appropriate yogi quote for you: ‘Before you’ve practiced, the theory is useless. After you’ve practiced, the theory is obvious.’ -David Williams

keep practicing. it will all work itself out eventually.

pk training log blog: strength 2Q12

since people are asking, here’s my next two months of training for parkour. my first two months of training this year is outlined here. remember everyone is different, so make sure you adapt your program to suit your goals, but i can say this is working well for me. ok it’s only been a week, but i know it’s going to work for me. and i can’t wait to see the results at the end of april!

  • first (and foremost): i’m practicing yoga again regularly; it is magically delicious. i’m still recovering from injuries and it’s painful, and frustrating, and it hurts sooooo goooood.
  • second: i’ve started lifting. the schedule is every other day swapping from an A schedule to a B schedule, so they don’t always fall on the same planned lifting day. does that make sense?
  • third: i’ve started running.

so here it is…

The Training Schedule (March – April 2012)

MONDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice in the gym (i’m going to ditch this practice, you’ll see why when you get to sat/sun, monday is going to be a snzzzzz morning now)
  • PM: 2 hour pk technique session at WITS

TUESDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice
  • PM: Lifting Schedule A: squats, presses, dead lifts. warming up with 2 sets of only the bar and then 3 sets of 5 reps at maximum weight, essentially so my legs and arms shake a bit on the third set. full rest in between sets

WEDNESDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice
  • PM: 20-30 min run

THURSDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice
  • PM: Lifting Schedule B: squats, bench presses, power cleans. warming up then 3 sets of 5 reps at max weight

FRIDAY

  • AM: 1-1.5 hour yoga practice (feeeeelss soooooo goooooood)
  • PM: evening off, or 20-30 min run, or avoid running, depending on mood

SATURDAY

  • AM: JAM!
  • PM: Lifting Schedule ?, as the routines skip days it will depend which one i’m on. or if i even can lift after jamming for 2 hours

SUNDAY

  • AM: JAM! yes, 2 days of jamming in a row
  • PM: 20-30 min run, steam, maybe practice yoga. maybe lift if i missed yesterday. essentially, whatever i can manage after jamming for another 2 hours

to sum up: eat, sleep, train, jam.

for the last 2 weeks i’ve jammed over the weekends and then done the technique session on monday evenings and i feel tons more confident about my movement and ability. i’m really amazed and really loving it! and i’m lucky i don’t have that pesky yoga studio to worry about for the next few months. or a family (my dogs are in the kennel). or a relationship. i mean- i still have time to, you know, work. and eat. and sleep. sleeeeeeeeppp.

for inspiration check this out: http://vimeo.com/bougie/leanlifting

ekamyogini, gym bunny

i joined a virgin active gym. all i can think is: what’s a yogi like me doing in a place like this? long story short: my seamless transition from one yoga studio location to another didn’t go as seamlessly as i’d planned. so i’m studio-less for a few months. also, my parkour training has brought me to the point where i’ve realized: i’m just. not. strong. enough. but more on that later.

the real purpose of this post is to note a yogini’s observations of the gym as a practice space and yogic environment.

  1. oom-tss oom-tss oom-tss… vande gurunam…oom-tss oom-tss… charanaravinde…oom-tss oom-tss… good thing mantra goes with any beat.
  2. mondays are BANGING, literally. but as the week goes on there are significantly fewer people. every morning i was able to park closer and closer to the entrance. where did everyone go?
  3. OMG…BREATHE! a yogi will note, almost immediately, that everyone is breathing wrong. just wrong. so much effort, so erratic. it’s actually painful to hear. no wonder so many exercise regimens fail.
  4. there’s a lot of standing around, drinking water and generally ‘resting’. as i’m about to learn with strength training, yes, you do rest in between sets. but for many it’s like a loss of focus time. they wander around, eyes glazed over, sucking on their water bottles. yep- they’re in the zone alright.
  5. this is going to sound uncharitable, but most of the people in the gym don’t actually look like they spend much time there. maybe the ones in better shape escaped! except for the scary guys in the free weight corner, darkly flexing and grunting.
  6. yoga room = spillover conditioning room or cool down room. i might be busting my ass in bhuja pidasana, but everyone else is using my tranquility to foam roll or in one case…srlsy- to SKIP ROPE! [OMG the beautiful wood floor!] and hey don’t bother to remove your shoes.
  7. upon being kicked out of the yoga room i rolled out my mat in the weight machine area. the amount of testosterone being pumped into the air there fueled an incredible primary series practice for me.

honestly, the gym isn’t such a big step from mysore-style practice. especially if you’ve ever done it in mysore or at one the bigger mysore-style studios around the world. you have to listen to people breathe, grunt, and take the occasional tumble, feel people sweat, dodge flying feet and hands (i’ve actually smacked people in the ass on both sides of me coming up from back-bends). if i hadn’t spent the last 5 years practicing in airports, hotel rooms, hallways, dining rooms, pool sides, hotel gyms and dark corners i wouldn’t have developed the pratyahara to actually enjoy my current situation. there is never a good excuse, you can practice anywhere!

and as for those guys flexing and grunting…i’ll be hopping over into their corner soon.

the 10 things i wish i had known before opening a yoga studio

today, Ekam Yoga closes its (current) doors (temporarily) for ‘renovations’. it was a fun 2 years, but i’m ready for a cleaner, better-maintained, cheaper, homier space and a more consolidated, minimalist lifestyle. the insane running around of the last 2 years is finally at an end (whew!). i can now look forward to 1 june, when Ekam will begin a new phase in Parkhurst.

i opened Ekam Yoga in March of 2010. i had these beautiful fantasies of introducing johannesburg to the joys of traditional ashtanga vinyasa yoga. i had practiced in Mysore and NYC and those places were always packed! i thought, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; the traditional ashtanga practice and teaching method is beautiful, practical, and it works. people here are going to love it!

looking back on the last 2 years, here’s the reality:

1. everyone that you need to get your studio up and running is ‘un-yogic‘. the shortlist: landlords, contractors, builders, financial advisors, interior decorators, branding agents, your own family, etc. it’s business as usual, and no one knows (or cares) what ‘yogic’ means. it’s ok. remember: you’re yogic and you understand the nature of karma.

2. your practice will disintegrate, rebuild itself, disappear, become transparent, rise, fall, and spin in circles. just like everything else in the world. you will then come to realize that you’re always practicing. and that is a priceless learning experience.

3. your practice will take new forms, for example: cup washing, mat cleaning, snack sourcing, flower arranging, website updating, email answering, budget balancing, etc. each new form reveals itself through a love of the practice.

4. you will have over 600 followers on FaceBook, but no one will show up at 6am in the dead of winter. on the up-side, you can use that time to practice! or go back to bed.

5. that person with the 2, 3 or 12 friends who can’t wait to experience your studio? they’ll never pitch. it’s the same with those who said they were coming to your workshop, your retreat, your class on saturday, etc. and then there are those that call to ask you if it’s ok to come to class (‘sure!’) and they’ll see you tomorrow am (‘bright and early!’). i’m sorry to break it to you: they’re just teasing. but there will be lots of nice surprises that walk into your studio too!

6. you will teach more private yoga classes than you thought possible, and your students will love you for it!

7. you won’t make as much money as you thought with those famous yoga teachers who pass through town. but they will draw numbers and gain recognition for your studio. they’re a lot of extra work, but they’re worth it.

8. if you stick with it, keeping true to your vision, you’ll lose friends, but you’ll make friends too. be grateful for both.

9. it will be a rough ride for a while, and you may not make it. but,

10. you will never, ever regret it.

so you want to practice intermediate series?

below is an article i wrote about 2 years ago when an occasional student insisted i teach them 2nd series. i intended it for the Ekam website but couldn’t figure out how to tone it down enough for general consumption. i’ve had my personal battles with learning intermediate series, especially without a qualified teacher. perhaps this was a way to vent my own frustration with learning 2nd series on my own- a process that is still ongoing after 3 years. i did do some research when i was writing the information below- this isn’t stuff i just made up because i think i’m a bad ass. i sympathize with those learning intermediate on their own, it’s a truly devilish sequence of postures and the risk of injury is greater than that in primary series. so if you want to learn intermediate series (from me) i’ll refer you here first. and i’ll be very honest that i’m still on my own journey though this sequence. i truly believe in the criteria outlined below, which is why i am currently not practicing 2nd series, but i do assist others (and believe me, i recognize the ethical issues of this).

‘primary series is for students, intermediate is for teachers, advanced is for demonstration.’ – Sri K Pattabhi Jois.

The intermediate, or ‘second series’ of ashtanga vinyasa yoga is a challenging set of asanas that work deeply into the body and the mind. This series of postures, known as ‘nadi shodhana’ or ‘channel cleansing’, requires the ‘yoga chikitsa’ (yoga therapy) learned in the primary series to create a grounded physical base for this more energetic sequence. The intermediate series is a much deeper practice than the primary series, while being complimentary to it. Just as primary series pulls and twists your physical body, the intermediate series pulls and twists your nervous system and the energy channels that run throughout the body- the nadis. And like the primary series, each posture in the sequence prepares you for the next.

For many students of ashtanga vinyasa, beginning to practice the intermediate series will be the first time the student has experienced the traditional method. Many people (like me) learned primary series all at once from a DVD, a book, at a gym, or at a yoga studio during a full primary series led class. So learning one posture at a time, slowly integrating it into your daily yoga practice, may be a new concept. Like the primary series, the intermediate series of postures can take years to learn- perhaps a whole lifetime.

Learning the intermediate series is rewarding, but takes a serious amount of physical, mental and emotional commitment. If you don’t have the strength and the stamina to complete the primary series and feel energized afterwards, you will not be able to advance in your second series practice. Second series postures are added, one at a time, to your primary series practice, testing your physical and mental endurance. To be truly ready to embark on this next level of your practice, you should be able to answer ‘Yes’ to the following statements:

  1. I have been practicing the primary series at least 4-5 times/week for at least a year. In addition, I am capable of sustaining a 4-6 day/week practice indefinitely.
  2. I know the correct vinyasas for entering and exiting all postures of the primary series.
  3. I can perform all jump backs and jump throughs between each posture all the time, every time, throughout the entire primary series.
  4. I am capable of binding myself in Marichyasana D and Supta Kurmasana. I am able, or nearly able, to stand up from Urdhva Dhanurasana and drop back into the posture unassisted or with very little assistance.
  5. I have the time for my daily practice to run up to two hours in length.
  6. I have attained yoga chikitsa (yoga therapy) and my life is in balance. I am content in my current yoga practice.

Also, review the first two limbs of Ashtanga, the yamas and the niyamas, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Ahimsa (non-violence): Do I knowingly bring myself to the point of injury in my current yoga practice? Am I able to recognize an injury before it manifests and change to avoid it or ask for help?
  2. Satya (truthfulness): Am I honest with myself with regard to my capability within my practice?
  3. Asteya (non-stealing): Am I taking away time and effort needed in my primary series practice?
  4. Brahmacharya (going with God): Is this truly a good use of my energy? Do I have constancy in my practice, offering it as a prayer or meditation rather than just a physical effort?
  5. Aparigraha (non-grasping): Am I trying to acquire 2nd series rather than seeing it as a daily meditation and act of humility?
  6. Saucha (purity): Am I approaching this new level of my practice with purity, having uncluttered my primary series practice? Am I open to the benefits the practice will bring?
  7. Santosha (contentment): Am I content with my current practice, regardless of whether or not I ‘advance’ in 2nd series? Would I be happy practicing primary series for the rest of my life?
  8. Tapas (austerity): Do I have not just the desire, but the discipline to carry my practice further, despite what it may bring?
  9. Svadhyaya (self-study): Do I seek 2nd series as a way to know myself better? Regardless of what it uncovers?
  10. Isvara-Pranidhana (surrender to God): Can I surrender my practice to a greater power, open to what each day may bring, whether great advancement or serious setback?

Finally, students wanting to learn intermediate series postures will need to attend Mysore-style self-practice at Ekam Yoga for at least a month before any postures are added. This is so we can observe your current practice, work with you where necessary, and ensure an open, honest relationship between student and teacher moving forward. Traditionally, postures are given by the teacher, not asked for by the student- are you ready to surrender your practice and trust another to guide you? We as teachers are also slowly deepening our own practices with these postures and that resources regarding the intermediate series are currently thin on the ground in South Africa. We are doing the best we can, grounded in a respect for ourselves and our practice, and with awareness of our own strengths and limitations. We are all a part of the journey.

Goal Setting Part 3: the axis of TIME

some nice ideas about new year’s resolutions here. see, i’m not the only one thinking about the grand master plan for ME!

i blogged previously about creating measurable goals and about having an overall plan. now for some sad news- goals have expiry dates. time is a key element in any goal-setting process because it both keeps you on track and helps you see the bigger picture. time will never on your side, but you can use it as a great motivator. so when i’ve finished my little goal to-do list, and organized them into the different areas of my life, i then take a step back even further and imagine where i want to be in 5 years, and in 10 years. for an example i’ll have to go back a few years…

in 2007 i received my 200-hour yoga teacher training, which had been a little goal on my list for a year or so. in 2008 i taught at various studios in joburg and took my first trip to mysore. i loved yoga! at first i was happy just teaching, then i started getting big ideas- like why not open my own yoga studio? and maybe someday teach other aspiring yoga teachers? so i started building a road map to get there:

  1. register as an RYT-200 Yoga Alliance, USA (completed july 2008)
  2. create Ekam Yoga (completed march 2010)
  3. teach 1000 hours of yoga and register as an experienced registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) (completed january 2011)
  4. draw up a fantastic curriculum and submit it to Yoga Alliance, USA for review and approval (completed november 2011, approval expected early 2012)
  5. set a date (july 2012) and let the world know!

none of this happened over night, and if you looked at my goal list over the last 5 years you would only see little goals:

  1. practice yoga 5 times/week (2007-current)
  2. teach a yoga class 3x/week (2008-2009)
  3. spend a month in mysore (2008, 2009)
  4. save $10,000 annually (2007-2009)
  5. create ekam yoga (2009-2010) (ok that was a big goal)
  6. triple student attendance at the studio (2010)

each of these were SMART goals when i originally wrote them down, some more than 5 years ago. over time they accumulated, getting me to the present where i can make really cool decisions about where my passion for yoga will take me, from anchoring and growing the only mysore-style ashtanga program in joburg, to running the best yoga teacher training program, to organising international yoga retreats, to maybe becoming a travelling yoga teacher some day! just by taking lots of little baby steps over time.

remember, yearly goals are about the little things, breaking bad habits, creating good habits. but why are you trying to affect these seemingly small bits of change in your life? this is where having a 5 year and 10 year sketch of where you want to be comes in handy. because you’re building the person right now that’s going to be able to handle those big dreams you have for yourself in the not too distant future.

now i’m going to take my experience with yoga and apply it to a new area of my life, parkour, and ask myself- where do i want to be 5 years from now? i’m a realist so i’ve given parkour an expiry date: i’m going to practice parkour for 5 years or until i break something; that’s my overarching goal. 5 years because i’ll be 45 and more breakable every year, but also because 5 years is where i’d expect to see a bit of mastery and would be better able to make judgements about my future in parkour. i also need to give myself enough time to see if i’m any good at it. i wasn’t any good at yoga after 2 years, and my strengths as a teacher of yoga have only just started to grow. and i’ve only come into greater awareness and a sense of contentment with my yoga practice at the 5-year mark. so… 

Parkour Goals

2012 (1 year goals)

  • keep up strength and conditioning training 4 days/week, jam at least once a week, twice if possible. focus on creating a strong body that’s up for the practice. modify conditioning quarterly, adapting to new abilities.
  • continue with practicing yoga 4 days/week. focus on creating a supple body that is resistant to injury, and a resilient and focused mind.
  • at year-end, create a 3 minute video of continuous parkour (hmmm…side goal: save money for a go-pro video camera and head mount- YES! gadget goal achieved!).
  • continue to encourage more women to participate actively in the pk/fr community.

2017 (5 year goals)

  • create a 5 minute continuous pk video.
  • have a habit of strength and conditioning training and base knowledge that will be maintained indefinitely as i age (general health and limits loss of bone mass as i approach menopause)
  • look into credentials required to develop future pk/fr practitioners (i.e. see if you’d make a good teacher)

here are some key points to notice in the above goals:

  1. i’m dealing with the present needs (strength and conditioning) to get me to future goals. not just one big leap to pk master!
  2. i’m tying some of my goals into other areas of my life (yoga, teaching, aging).
  3. i’m creating a goal of being part of a community, a network and a support group that will reinforce my goals (more on goal sharing later).
  4. i’m building in alternatives if i do happen to break something, essentially investigating what level i need to reach to branch out within the activity and apply other strengths (teaching) to something i’m passionate about (more about what to do when goals fails later).

where are you going? not just this year, but in the future? where do you want to be in 5 years, in 10 years, and beyond?

my slippery little mind

i’ve been trying to write a blog post about my experience with meditation for a month now and it’s not working. so here’s a picture, which they say is worth 1000 words, but takes less time to write:

Go Shiva! Meditate the hell out of that sh!t!

maybe i look like that when i’m meditating, but that’s not what it feels like on the inside. inside- it’s a mess. i’ve started to love the time i spend meditating trying to meditate. the stillness of it, the body relaxed but alert. but when it comes down to it, meditation is like wrestling a barrel full of eels. my mind is a slippery, devious, chaotic place. i burst into laughter, or into tears. usually tears- yes, it’s that frustrating!

i haven’t practiced ashtanga vinyasa in over a month now. my body itches, my joints ache, and my skin crawls. i gaze jealously at practitioners when i’m adjusting in the mornings. and in the evenings during pk training i imagine i’m vinyasa-ing my little heart out rather than doing 300 squats. though, i’m not sure there’s any difference between the two. just that i’m doing a lot of one and none of the other. and it used to be the other way around. yeah- same difference.

the most wonderful thing about not practicing yoga asana is that i get to eat whatever the hell i want, whenever the hell i want it- hello ice cream floats at 10pm! and i’ve been eating garlic too. and chili. this has taken a HUGE load off my life- especially with the stress of a new job. after five years of ashtanga practice, this one, seemingly simple thing, makes an amazing difference in my life. it doesn’t mean i’m not eating healthily- it’s the when that makes the biggest difference.

so while i was meditating attempting to meditate yesterday, i realized something rather magical, and though for me it was in the context of yoga, it could apply to anything in life (like parkour, or my job). meditation is supposed to be a single point of focus, which ends up, more often than not, being the self. and anything we do- yoga, meditation, parkour, running, etc. is just a mirror where we get to see ourselves within the context of that activity. but the point isn’t to become obsessed with the reflection (i am that cool asana!), or to judge it (i suck at parkour!), or compare it to other reflections of ourselves (worse than yesterday!) or of others (better than so-and-so!). it’s to recognize that it is only a reflection, and our true nature can only be realized when we are able to turn away from the reflection and put everything we have into what we’re doing right now (trying to meditate!). and that is where practice is.

deep, or maybe not. unfortunately, i’ve discovered that my mind is just as likely to come up with the insightful and the assinine in equal proportions. which is altneratively both exciting and embarassing, and sometimes both at the same time. i’m just going to try and hang on for the ride.