I Suck at Yoga

Yes, it’s true, I’m a terrible yogi. I know, you might see me on that mat and think, is she crazy, her legs are behind her head, or yeah, I want to suck that bad…but it’s still true. Asana is not yoga. Don’t get me wrong, it’s part of the recipe, an integral ingredient, like chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies, but without the flour, sugars, butter, salt, eggs and vanilla, as yummy as a chocolate chip is on its own, it in no way shape or form is the same as the whole cookie.

I admit, when I first got on the mat, clueless, I defined yoga by its physical movements. I knew no differently. Yet, even that first time, I felt different afterwards, calmer, more at peace and albeit briefly, less reactionary and more present. It not only made me want to go back, but slowly, scratch the surface to learn more.

In the beginning everything was so physically hard, but I was enamored with figuring it out, while having these minor life epiphanies occur during the moment and movement in asana. Tears were common, of joy, grief, awareness, forgiveness. So not me, but I loved it, and soon enough bought my first yoga book, Gregor Maehle’s Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy. It’s a fabulous book, that has a wealth of information as well as an in-depth practical explanation with pictures of the primary series. I admit, when I first opened the book, I was more interested in learning his wisdom on the asana versus anything about the Yoga Sutras. In some strange way, as much as I have always been a rabid reader, any time I went to read something outside of asana, I would literally fall asleep…his book, for awhile became my go to insomnia aid…I almost feel now, like I wasn’t ready to know more yet, that in my own intensity, the whole package of ashtanga, was too much to take in, and might have led me to throw in the towel.

The Tim Miller workshop I went to almost two weeks ago, helped me to accept my truth, I suck at yoga. Why? Because I’m human, I’m internally bombarded with my ego, my judgements, my impatience, my desires, my other flaws. However, as Timji worded it, we must accept who we are, all of it, not just the good but the uncomfortable parts, the ones that are still young or injured or afraid and stop judging so much. How can you move forward by suppressing your quirks? An itch doesn’t go away by pretending it’s not there, and scratching it until you bleed doesn’t help it either. Figuring out why it’s there, being curious, yet compassionate and forgiving can stop all the judgement, eventually.

I don’t know if I will ever happily allow that guy who turns out in front of me driving, even though there is no one behind me and cuts me off making me slam on my brakes while he then proceeds to go ten miles LESS than the speed limit, without wanting to scream some sort of expletive… Yeah, so I suck, because, maybe he’s a nervous driver, and didn’t grasp the timing and once he saw me so close after the turn already started he got more scared and slowed down more… Or my judgement of the judgers…I mean seriously how hypocritical is my annoyance at their annoyance? Everything can be misunderstood. Everything. My yamas, my niyamas, are they interpreted the same way universally? No. And sadly like crazed ex smokers, some folks can get a tad over zealous in the expectations of those around them. We are all on a journey, with different mind sets, wiring, and cultural biases.

So, I love chocolate chip cookies, but I confess I especially like the raw dough…it’s a magical indulgence to me, maybe I’m not ready to fully bake yet..Alton Brown has three different chocolate chip cookie recipes, thin and crispy, puffy, and the chewy, my favorite..here is a link for the recipes. on that note, enjoy your favorite, my goal of the moment is to use less curse words, so namaste mother f#ckers! It’s still a work in progress.😉

Glass houses

“You must purge yourself before finding faults in others.
When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake.
This is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement.
Do not look at others’ bodies with envy or with superiority.
All people are born with different constitutions.
Never compare with others.
Each one’s capacities are a function of his or her internal strength.
Know your capacities and continually improve upon them.”
― B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life

The beautiful man who wrote this sentiment passed away this week. As much as I love the perspective, I confess it’s not easy to even step back enough, or pause enough to do just that for me at least. Even with my children, I’ve criticized them for faults I have myself. Oh the joys of being human!

One of the best parenting moments I ever have had was a few years ago. My oldest daughter and son had been fighting, they were both wrong in their actions and each was demanding some version of discipline for the other’s transgressions. I was upset with both of them for hurting one another and really didn’t have the mindset in the moment to master a quick solution on my own. I was frustrated and sad that they were being so terrible to one another. So, as they were each so eager to demand justice, I said fine, you each come up with a punishment for each other. I warned them not to be to draconian and ensure that what they come up with should be fair.

Alas, as each had not given up on their festering anger, the consequences they had each envisioned were absolutely just a small step shy of fifty lashings while tied to a stake. I spoke to them both individually and asked are you really sure that what you’ve decided befits their actions, that the punishment fits the crime? Each hungrily agreed that their sibling deserved their choice and that it wasn’t too harsh. Honestly I can’t remember what they each thought of, but truly at the time, I wondered where these atrocious ideas could even exist in their normally quite kind and loving minds and hearts.

I called them together and stated one last time as I had them look in each others faces, are you really sure these punishments aren’t too much? Both, still so heated, readily agreed. So I said ok, you each came up with a penance, but, instead of it being for your sibling, the consequences you’ve decided will be for yourself.

The silence for that first few seconds afterwards as they each were stunned in fear of what they had come up with for the other was telling. Both my daughter and son started backtracking, pleading with me, tears streaming, that it was too much, too humiliating and abusive. I reminded them that they each thought these were fair and just to be inflicted on the other, so why is it too much for you? I was crying too, as I said, please learn from this, please grasp that vengeance won’t make it better, cruelty and judgement won’t change what happened, that the golden rule and forgiveness are much better choices. I told them that they needed to apologize to each other and really think about what they thought each truly deserved as a consequence, to be careful of rash judgements when we all live in glass houses. I hadn’t read Light on Life yet, but instead told them the gospel parable, lest he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I can’t say they’ve never fought since then, but I know the message was felt and I can only hope that they remember and are learning to pause before reacting and learn their capacities and improve upon them. ❤️here is a nice tribute to Iyengar.

Judgement…can we ever let it go?

“Those who prefer their principles over their happiness, they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.” Albert Camus

Damn…how true is that? I read a great article today on cognitive biases. Here it is in full! Please take a look. As I was reading through all of the different ways we humans rationalize everything, I couldn’t help but think of the five kleshas, or obstacles: ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and clinging to life. Each of the biases stems from at least one of these. I’d love to say I’ve conquered these foibles in myself, but alas I must be truthful, I fail, epically at times.

Though much commonality exists in being human, the differences that make us unique also give rise to judgement. I mean really, what is normal? Normal upbringing, normal social constructs, normal what exactly? I can attest as a child, I knew what normal was in my family. It was not exactly traditional. There was a bible on the coffee table, church choir on Sundays, but we also had beautiful sensual charcoals on the walls by Betty Dodson, my mom read astrology charts and palms at the kitchen table, and five siblings working as child actors mostly in commercials and on broadway. Opening night parties at cabaret clubs were par for the course for the 8 year old in my house. I admit it did not help me make friends in my peer group at parochial school. Judgement, fear, only seeing the differences, jealousy, I don’t know the rationales, nor does it matter anymore. I learned a long time ago, not every one will like you, but you won’t like everyone either. Be compassionate and kind, but not a doormat!

“I ask myself, is it a sin, to be flexible, when the boat comes in?” Depeche Mode20140624-165824-61104011.jpg

With that lovely photo, David posted on Yoga sutra 1.20: Others follow a five-fold systematic path of 1) faithful certainty in the path, 2) directing energy towards the practices, 3) repeated memory of the path and the process of stilling the mind, 4) training in deep concentration, and 5) the pursuit of real knowledge, by which the higher samadhi (asamprajnata samadhi) is attained. By utilizing those principles in our gestures, can we stop the other nonsense? Maybe😊

We spend an inordinate amount of wasted time trying to be alike, striving for perfection, judging ourselves and others. Yet, in that we lose sight of how alike we are, very much so, all human, experiencing joy, love, wonder, pain, and sorrow. We each require sleep, nourishment and protection from the elements. The journeys are different. What we choose to take from the journey is different. Even if the goal is the same, and ultimately contentment, with who we are and what we are, feeds that purpose, we will go about it with our own choices.

Sutra 2.2 introduces the subject very clearly: “The goal of Yoga is not to obtain something that is lacking: it is the realization of an already present reality. Yoga practice removes the obstacles that obstruct the experience of samadhi, or the state of complete absorption.”

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