If you haven’t already given up on regular updates from me on my practice, or on anything else, for that matter, I think that I am stating the obvious when I say: I haven’t been writing much here lately. And less and less as time goes on.
It makes sense really, when you consider the reason why I blogged in the first place, which was to record my progress in the practice of Ashtanga. When I began my Ashtanga practice, I had so much work to do. I had to get cardiovascularly fit enough to not be passing out by the time I got to Marichyasana C. I had to get my twists flexible enough to bind in Marichyasana C, and then D. I had to my hips and chest open enough to bind in Supta Kurmasana. There were hands to get to the floor in Prasarita Padotannasana C. There were reverse prayers to wiggle into in Purvatanasana. There was the still-not-quite-readily available Parivritta Parsvakonasana. There was jumping through. There was jumping back. There were backbends. There was breathing through the nose, even. It was a new lover, and there was so much to explore.
But the Primary Series, including backbends, contains the whole of yoga practice within it. Everything else is just, in my opinion at least, taking that practice and multiplying it exponentially. Pasasana is just a combination of Mari A and Mari C, or at the very least, a twist on steroids. Supta Kurmasana is the seed for all leg behind head poses. Backbends are backbends, whether on the feet or on the knees. Arm balances are just bandhas and balance.
So, I’m bored.
At least for te most part. I mean, working on my backbends still holds my interest, but frankly, over time I have discovered a truth that I wish I did not know: that I can do a backbend by warming up my backbend. There is no need for all of the stuff that comes before in the Ashtanga practice. I could lay on my bed with weights in my hand and then do a bunch of progressively more challenging backbends and work up to the same Kapotasana that I would be able to do if I went from Surya Namaskar A all the way through Primary and halfway through Second.
I didn’t set out to “crack the code” and find the shortcuts. But I did anyway. I discovered the shortcuts, and now I feel jaded. I no longer feel the urgency to practice with any sort of intensity. Heat – tapas – escapes me. I find myself going to Hot Vinyasa classes in order to practice in the heat generated outside of myself. When I go to the CT Shala, I feel the love of the practice again, but I only go once a week, partly because it is just so ridiculous to travel for a half hour each way when my practice is waiting for me on my own mat, and partly because when I practice in front of a teacher, I can’t use my “narrow hallway” and straps and other nifty R&D methods that I have been actually having fun discovering here in my very own house. (That must be obvious to anyone reading this blog, since the only thing I have blogged about in the past week is exactly THAT – my Kapotasana bag of tricks.)
I’ve been fighting this feeling for a while now, but I think I’m no longer in love with the yoga. I like it very much. I respect it. I want to be friends with it. But I can no longer see it exclusively. I’m not looking for the next great love of my life, but I think that the reality is that I will probably find it, and then there will be a period of great struggle, as I attempt to keep the yoga in my life, but I find myself helpless as I watch it drift away. I don’t want that to happen. But I know myself. I’ve seen myself do this before. It’s practically inevitable.
To wit: I used to run long distances. And by run, I mean “run”. Not jogging. I once did an 18.6 mile race in 8:10 pace. I loved it. I was kind of good at it. I never thought I would stop. And then gradually, over time, I lost the love for it. And I quit. And I have since then heard myself say, “I can’t even imagine running a mile now”. Then there was the figure skating. And then the long distance biking. Then Bikram. Then Jivamukti. Oh, and going way back to pre-running, there was step aerobics. All of these activities were intense loves of mine. I couldn’t imagine life without them, and then one day, my life existed fully without them.
I can only surmise, based on history, my history, my very very consistent history, that one day, maybe not too long from now, my Ashtanga practice will go the way of marathon running and Bikram yoga and step aerobics.
Yesterday, I ran four miles in 15 degree weather, on the hilly roads of my Bedford neighborhood. The husband thought I was crazy as I layered on the clothing that would insulate me from the ridiculous Canadian cold fron that has settled in here. But as my feet connected with the ground and bounced back up again, I felt pure joy. As I meandered past antique farm houses that usually I drive by too quickly to notice, I felt a pull. I wanted to go farther and farther. But I contained myself because I didn’t want to wake up hobbled today.
Of course, I came home and did some yoga poses to stretch out my quads and hamstrings. But I want to add running (jogging) to the mix again. I’ve already done it twice this week. And I am looking forward to going again. I also want to keep up with the yoga.
Wouldn’t it be a miracle, a real show of character evolution, if I could manage somehow to keep up BOTH, rather than having to choose one over the other?