The Rabbit Hole

January 31, 2013 § 1 Comment

I don’t have much to write about these days, even though there’s a lot going on in the intellectual and emotional spheres. Not everything is fit to print…in fact, the bulk of the stuff that comes up is sometimes better left alone.

Part of my recent experiences involves dealing with a ferocious cold that’s forced me to rethink the way I practice, and to dial things down many notches. After getting the flu, followed by a week of regular practice and then this cold for two weeks, I’m just about ready for life to get back to normal. But what is normal anyway? Is normalcy defined by the absence of having to blow your nose after every other posture? By being able to practice everyday? Maybe nose-blowing is the new normal. Why not make it a practice of mindfulness in itself?

Somewhere along the line, I realized that the asana practice has started to move beyond the physical level towards the level of emotions. Sigh. That sentence makes this insight appear a lot more trite than it actually is. I mean, DUH, of course this practice eventually works its way into your psyche, beyond the superficial awareness of your own body. If you let it, of course. But what I was really trying to get at is that I’m starting to see this happen, to see the effects of the practice at the psychosomatic level. It comes out most clearly in my (very fledgling) sitting/pranayama practice. When done after an asana practice, the quality of the sit is vastly different from non-asana practice days. This dynamic has given the asana practice a new dimension, a new purpose, and the relationship between the two practices is forming a very nice complementarity that’s slowly filtering its way into other parts of my life.

See what I mean about how some things are just not fit to print? Sorry if this post has turned into an abstract mumbo-jumbo of everything and yet nothing at all. Going deeper means less thinking, more experiencing, and usually those experiences have no words, just feelings. It’s so hard to describe so I’m not going to dig myself into an even deeper hole here by trying too hard. If I had to summarize my ramble so far, it would be this: the path of Ashtanga as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras isn’t all that different from the Ashtanga system laid out by Guruji. The forms are different, as are the approaches, but the physical practice is indeed designed to prepare you for Patanjali’s asana, which is definitely something worth delving into after you’ve been doing the asana practice for a bit. It would be a pity to miss out on that, and, personally, to keep one’s Ashtanga practice solely at the level of asana would just be plain boring. I was hooked onto Ashtanga because it felt as if I had stumbled into an endless and fascinating rabbit hole of spirituality, history, yoga, the body, the mind, etc. I think I’ve just entered another level in this rabbit hole and am loving every bit of it.

 

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