Ashtanga teaches us patience, a friend said. I thought about this, before teaching patience, I decided, ashtanga teaches us that impatience is present.

Arms and Legs

I don't have to work my arms quite so hard if I use my legs. 

                                                                     (on lowering to chatarunga)


Guided primary yesterday and grateful to be counted through finishing. Somehow finishing has grown into something that can be hurried, as if it doesn't count - finishing gets squeezed, because its slow, because I don't have time, because I'm already there - aren't I? Any time I don't have time should turn on a lightbulb - or rather turn it off - that's where the pileup happens. Listen then, to another count.  

Sometimes I think we forget that healing is a process. We know that, of course, but we forget. There aren't too many models of process to watch - we get impatient, don't notice the markers, grow detached, look for something new. Yoga, and I'm particular to Ashtanga, is a model for process. I mean, we're not going to be able to learn how to do something by not doing it. We can think about, chart it out, envision it, eventually, if we are lucky, we must apply our bodies - limbs and legs and hands and knees - all tangled up, crooked, tender, searching bodies with hearts inside them. 

I've been choosing primary series over second. Second feels far away, all the way through yoga chikitsa.  And it's hard, hard-er, it's where I fail. Today I realized that all the places that ache (hips, thoracic) get touched during second - I must have already known this, providing yet another reason to resist. But then I had to acknowledge that the aching is made worse by not doing, that intermediate touch  brings more relaxation than it does more pain. This is a profound testimony to the system of ashtanga yoga -a system that leads us through the body - what's required of the practitioner is courage and faith.  There is always ample opportunity for not doing -- fear of failure - but not so much the failure to jump into bakasana - but the failure of divination, or at least the fear of not being able to do what you've been called on to do.  

On wednesday I stepped on my mat and with the words vande gurninam I began to cry. Why crying? Why raining? The answer seemed to be that I was grateful for my practice: the confusion of daily living, the repeating desires, the pain in my back, with all of that I also had this - a place to be - and I've cultivated this place, built it over the last four years, the door swings open at a touch and welcomes me, does not threaten, is not discouraged, does not leave, is always waiting, doesn't grow tired or disappointed -- I have this place, in me. Here's the practice, the temple. 

One of the interesting, often overlooked, pieces of travel is the returning home. There is in this a brief window where it's just possible to see where things are stuck, bent, not working, disconnected. What did I miss? What didn't I miss? Safety is built into routine - the recognizable, the familiar, the predictable. This is not argument against the ashtanga system - there is an enormous lot to be learned through commitment, hard-work, and repetition - and I still believe the mysore room is the most sophisticated teaching environment. But it's good to go swim in the ocean, to come home and notice how my right leg drifts to compensate for a left elbow that wants always to swing wide - to go through is almost too painful. To notice that you are a creature separate from me - even when, especially when, your sadness floods my house and I stand there worrying, watching the water rise. How to keep the heart open and keep house? You come in, I go out - wandering the countryside, looking for clues. 

"Is it boring?", she asked

"Only when I stop paying attention."

Do you know there's ketchup on the window sill? No, but if you hum a few bars.  This, and other tunes of presence. 


Home practice:

I bound on my own for the first time today in pasasana, propped up on an old copy of the new our bodies ourselves. I think that's funny. 

Sometimes it seems like there is a goal in the asana practice - flop my arms over in prasarita c, or scoop back from bhujapidasana - and this goal is connected to feelings of accomplishment,  and just on the other side of that: a well deserved rest. This morning I was thinking that if the goal is really to rest, why not rest? What is the rest that is earned? Finally a delicious letting go, laying down in in the grass! As long as there is something in the mind that says I have to do this before I can rest then I will have to do that. Unless, I choose not to do that and then I will have to accept the result. Say: if I want honey for my tea, I'm going to have to get some honey. Without honey, the flavor will pale. 

However, it was Sunday. So I unfolded from janu sirsana, bowed, and lay down to do a few restoratives. 



How do we see something we have never seen before? Or rather, how do we perceive it? By what name? Through what associated shape? With what filter?

The asana practice, via the body, demands strength and even more than strength: humility - we are presented with an opportunity to “see” something we’ve never seen before and to cultivate the capacity for this kind of seeing.  


Sometimes it happens that we are afraid to make a mistake -- and become irritated when the tools that have been helpful to us are, for some reason, not available- embarrassed we decide to muddle through, awkward and slightly ashamed at our now visible foibles; a weakness that we thought we’d tamed or put to sleep a long time ago. But then, it happens that both the act and the result are improved! It is better than it was before. And the next day I find myself trying to repeat my mistake, my happy accident, with equal intensity. Really, the warming spot was the awkward vulnerability, the blush of shame and not the accomplishment. It is with fervor that I seek ease.

(on making crackers without a rolling pin)