Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 4: Don't let the door hit you in the asana

Let go of time. Trust me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012
Mysore Practice
Instructor: Deborah Carruthers
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.

Had a great sleep last night. It feels like my body is getting attuned to this new schedule of bed by 11 p.m. (at the latest!) followed by some light reading: currently Yoga Mala, by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, which is technically required reading for teacher training, but really, it's a no-brainer for any Ashtanga practitioner. Serendipitously, my wife Deb already had it from her first foray into Ashtanga a few years back at Downward Dog in Toronto. From there, the schedule looks pretty much like this:

11 – 11:30 p.m. Earplugs in, shut eye
5:00 a.m. Wake up
5:15 a.m. Scrape tongue and drink 2 pints of warm water with fresh lemon
5:30 a.m. Hot shower to warm up, and avoid smelling like a bear once I start sweating (usually around the 3rd Surya Namaskar)
5:45 a.m. Eat a banana while tea is brewing
6:00 a.m. Creep down the pitch black stairs and drive out to the studio
6:30 a.m. Pranayama
6:45 – 8:30/9 a.m. Asana Practice
8:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. Yoga
Rinse, repeat.


Practice today was really good. I felt very strong, my knee had quieted down somewhat, and my mood and energy were up from yesterday. I think having a couple more people in the studio today really helped with that. It's amazing what can happen when 2, 3, 4 or more people start working together individually, creating a current of energy and light. Which brings me to something I touched on in yesterday's post:

How my shamanic practice informs my yoga practice (and vice versa).
During a recent shamanic ceremony that I participated in, I received a lesson that I'm reminded of at least once during every practice. It's the idea that with every breath we take, we are given the opportunity to start over. Think of the breath cycle as a condensed life cycle — you exhale and breath old air out, and if you don't breath new air in, you'll die. By breathing new air in, you are essentially giving birth to the current version of you. And that current version is immediately replaced by the next one, and the next one, and so on.

It's a lesson that has helped me in my daily life by reminding me that we always have the chance to start over. For example, say you are having the type of disagreement with your partner that may not be based on anything in particular, but rather is an expression of an inner frustration or something else that's going on with you separate from the thing you're fighting about — like when you might find yourselves arguing over a dirty dish that was left in the sink overnight. It's the kind of argument that even while you're having it, you are regretting it, but feel caught up in it and don't know how to get out of it. Try giving yourselves the permission to take a deep breath, let it out, stop the argument, acknowledge the real cause of the dispute ("I'm sorry, I've had a very frustrating day at work"), and start over. It's easy. We just need to not hold on to the past. It's history. Let it go.

In my practice, this lesson is reinforced all the time. If I don't perform a certain transition particularly gracefully, I take another breath, leave that asana in the past, and make sure I'm focussed on the one I'm doing now. It can be tough — especially if you have a history of beating yourself up — but it's important to forgive ourselves, to let the small stuff go, and be in the moment. It's a great place to be, and once you let go of the past and stop worrying about the future, you free up so much space in the moment that you can use to be thoughtful, compassionate and forgiving.



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