And I don’t even LIVE in Armonk.
A very old and dear friend of mine sent me a note today telling me that his mum is at the end of a painful and difficult battle with cancer (is there any other kind?), that she is rarely fully conscious now, and when she is, she is in terrible pain. I offered my sympathy and prayers and then I offered to dedicate my practice to his family. Then I wondered if he would feel the love coming from across the Atlantic Ocean.
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I found a message board on iVillage called Breast Cancer Support – a group of women bonding over their battles with breast cancer, which group was able to tolerate me for about a week or two before my personality banged up against the reigning sensibilities of the board. But in that week or two, someone in the group asked the others to jointly pray for me, in unison, on one designated day at one designated moment.
When that day and time came, I had already forgotten all about it, at least on a conscious level. Yet, there was a moment in which I experienced the most powerful and unique rush of positive feeling I could remember feeling in ages, if I had ever felt it before. It was as if the sun and the sky had enveloped me in a huge, universe-sized hug, and I basked in the warmth and glowed from the inside out. I felt happy and safe and free of fear.
It was only a few days later that I remembered that it was on that day that the group had agreed to pray for me.
I’m not big on spiritual hokus pokus, and my yoga is intentional asana practice with the delightful and wholly unintentional side effect of bringing me closer to something bigger than myself, sometimes. But this was a moment that I can’t explain in any way other than the unexplainable power of prayer.
And so, I wonder – would any of you kids like to try this at home? What if we were to “meme it forward” – using our yoga, coupled with our propensity to meme, for the greater good by taking turns devoting our practices to one another? Let’s see, how would this work? I could start out by nominating someone to receive the group’s first “yoga devotion”. I could put it in a new post, and also email the person, and those who want to join in can post a comment to that effect, or just join in without commenting. Then on the designated day, which would be the next day, all of us who were participating would dedicate the fruits of our practice to this person.
Then this person would nominate someone else, and the meme would continue.
I would love to hear whether others feel the effects of all of that love being directed towards them, so I hope at least one person joins me in seconding this motion to “meme it forward”….
If that happens, I will begin the process as stated…
Yours in a rare moment of spiritual hokus pokus,
Sometimes it seems to me as if I am the only Ashtanga blogger out there who doesn’t have a favorite place to set my mat in the practice room. I practice wherever there’s a spot. And I could care less if it’s on the right side or the left, near the altar or in the rear. I pretty much don’t much care who practices next to me either, although lately I have noticed that it’s kind of fun to practice within eyeshot of one particular student because when I do, we usually share a smirk or giggle at some point, which is somehow kind of nice during a two hour practice. Plus, she and I almost always start at around the same time, and even if we don’t, I usually catch up to her during the standing series, such that we’re practicing pretty much the same poses at the same time (until she splits into Second sometime after Navasana – it seems to be different every time). She has a lovely practice and she has given me some really wonderful pointers on opening the armpits (yes, Carl, the ARMPITS).
Oh, and during Led Primary Friday practice, I like to be as close as possible to the front and center because I’ve found that a front and center spot increases the odds of my getting an assist in Supta Kurmasana. Those assists really mean the world to me at this point because the less I “do” in Primary poses, the better my backbends feel.
On a side note, I often wonder, as a teacher and as a student, who really SHOULD get the Supta Kurmasana assist in a led class…the student who is most likely to get into the full version of the pose WITH the assist? Or the student who has no shot of getting bound but who might get a little further with an assist? A student like me, who can get into Supta K without an assist probably shouldn’t be getting the assist, truth be told, at least in my opinion. When I was teaching led classes at Shala X, for example, if the lithe and willowy Miss T was in the room, I knew that I would not have to assist her in Supta K and that I could focus my attentions on someone who needed the help more.
But back to the topic at hand, other than my preference for a front and center spot in Led and my enjoying being near Miss M during Mysore practice, I don’t really care who I practice near, or where I practice. I wonder how and why the attachment to certain places in the room sets in.
Lord, my life must be boring today for me to be writing such drivel.
I kept my promise to myself to get to the shala with a minimum of drama and get going with my practice with a minimum of drama and to get through all of Primary with a minimum of drama so that I might have something left to give in Second Series. And voila, what do you know, it was good. It was really really good. I even enjoyed a wonderful, peaceful five minutes in headstand and another wonderful, peaceful five or so minutes sitting before Uth Pluthi. I didn’t even cheat on Savasana.
It was so good, I started to feel pangs of sadness at the notion that it might not always feel this good.
Yeah, I know, this is no way to be present. This is no way to practice non-attachment. But to witness these moments of not being present, of being attached, that is a step in the direction of being in the moment, unencumbered by desire.
OK, enough of that crap. Back to the physical realm.
So, even though I missed Kino’s workshop, I did manage to spend 15 minutes listening to her talking about Urdhva Dhanurasana. Ever moment of those 15 minutes was useful. She showed us exactly how to get into UD without pain, without compressing the lower back. I’ll try to paraphrase:
Set up for bridge pose, with the heels right by the hips, feet parallel. Press the feet down, really driving down with the feet until the pelvis MUST lift. Do NOT lift the pelvis. Let the feet cause the pelvis to lift. Lift the ribcage away from the hipbones and place to top of the head on the floor. Continue lifting the ribcage as you place the palms. At this point, the backbend is really DONE. All that is left is to straighten the arms. Sounds too easy. But it really works to keep the DRIVING UP motion from stopping the backbend from happening, as it does tend to do with me. Carl are you listening?
But that’s not all.
Stay there for five breaths, and as Vanessa has said countless times, straighten the legs. And oddly, it CAN be done. When you enter into UD in the way described, you CAN straighten your legs. When the legs are straight or as straight as you can get them, walk the hands in, one two. That’s all. Just one, two. Hold. Lower. Repeat.
There is also something she said about the tailbone, and I cannot remember what it is. Oni told me today again, but I still can’t remember. All I know is that it is counterintuitive, but now when I try to intuit so that I can counter-intuit, I find that I can’t do either.
I tell you, 15 minutes of Kino was so dense with information that I cannot imagine what I would be going through now if I had been there the whole weekend.
My head would probably have exploded.
Or, really, during. We still have some gets that need gotten, like a chair across from the two leather club chairs, with an ottoman. And a large, entryway size mirror for behind those two club chairs to reflect the beautiful outdoors that can be seen outside the sliding glass doors across from the chairs.
The carpet is a bit mod for me, but the husband put an embargo on anything country, anything with flowers, anything paisley, anything oriental. I briefly considered a one-color rug, in a faux bois pattern (meaning that it looks like wood grain, even though it obviously is not wood. And then I decided that would look flat.
This room no longer says “F.U.” and “Don’t even think about coming in here.”
Remember what it used to look like (scroll down)?