Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 12: Meditation is Murder

This man is not sleeping.

Sunday, March 11, 2012
Hatha Flow Class with Michelle H.
10:30 – 12:00 p.m.

12:30 – 1:00 p.m.

Yoga Anatomy
1:00 – 3:00 p.m

Today was our first official day of teacher training. We started off at 9 a.m. (which seemed extra bright and early thanks to daylight savings time) with an introduction to the course and overview of the first 3 limbs of Ashtanga yoga ("Ashtanga" literally translates to "eight limbs").
"These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one's health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature."

You can read more about the limbs here. We followed that up with a Hatha class led by new instructor  Michelle, who brings a lot of experience to the studio and some BKS Iyengar influence — which is similar to Ashtanga (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga yoga guru, and Iyengar both studied under Krishnamacharya, the founder of modern yoga). I really enjoyed the sequences that Michelle put together and it was nice to practice some variations on the usual Primary Series flow.

We followed asana practice with a half-hour guided meditation that brought up a few things for me, one of which is the habit some people have of falling asleep during Savasana or meditation. It happens frequently enough — you're lying in sweet repose after an energetic practice, working to relax your body fully, melting into your mat, psychically shooing away distracting thoughts, when you hear it: the tell-tale signs of a Savasana Sleeper: the low, deep breathing that is inevitably followed by the chest rattling snores of a seasoned afternoon napper. Suddenly, you're no longer concerned with plans of what to make for dinner — you're now involved in an internal struggle to stay on your mat and not get up and chuck your eye bag at the offending snoozer.


When this happens, it brings to light many things. For me, Savasana and meditation are active states of being. While many of us are able to easily settle our bodies after the physical portion of class (the asanas), it requires further dedication and concentration to steady our minds and reap the benefits of meditative practice. As I see it, giving in to sleep is problematic in a couple ways: when you're sleeping, you're not only not participating in an essential part of the practice, you are also disrupting others from their own practice. It's hard enough to focus on stillness when we have so many thoughts zipping around our minds, cars are driving by outside, church bells are ringing, the next class is chatting outside the studio door — that when someone starts snoring I just want to scream, "OH COME ON! REALLY??".

Moments like this reinforce the idea that our practice is our own — that it's up to us to not worry about what the person next to us is doing, that we should focus on making sure that we're present within ourselves and doing the work that we need to do (remember "you do you"?). For me, that means working at not judging the snoozer, to accept that there's merely another external distraction present, and to treat it as benignly as I'd treat the ticking clock — although there have been moments where I've been tempted to ask, "please, could you just PLEASE STOP WITH THE TICKING??". It's exactly the type of thing that meditation, and yoga, can help you to cope with. It's some kind of cosmic joke when situations like that arise while you're doing the thing you need to do to cope with the other thing. So, next time someone starts sawing logs in Savasana, I think instead of trying my hardest to not whip my lavender scented eye bag at them, I'll be doing my best to not laugh out loud. Now that's progress.


In case the Savasana Snoozer is reading this, here are a couple videos that you might find useful :-)



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