That wonderful, marvelous, horrible moment in Ashtanga

It begins, often, in Prasarita C.

You’re pushing your arms down, down toward the floor, shoulders straining as you seek to advance the pose.

And then. Footsteps. Or, worse. No warning. Just feet, suddenly.

'No ego,' is says on the web

The teacher is there, and suddenly you are taken deep, deeper, deepest yet.

If you’re like me, when you rise you may see receding stars or feel just the briefest halt to things when everything goes black.

You’ve reached the edge. The moment when despite any attempts on your part, you are entirely present, aware of everything but unaware of anything.

Both present and dissolved.

It is that moment we’re striving for, in our always failing not to strive practice. It’s that moment, in my reductive and judgmental but trying simply to find words way, that I call “doing yoga right.”

Maybe we can just call it doing yoga. If only we could find that place, and stay there, unperturbed. Arjuna’s moment of understanding.

I’ve only found it in Ashtanga classes. Tim Miller’s. Jörgen Christiansson’s. At the Confluence. And so, from my experience, it is more narrow than “doing yoga.” It’s doing Ashtanga. Practicing. Seeing where the next moment of surrender, of giving up ego and self and letting, fully, go, will happen.

And then to reflect and think and wonder what insights are there, which can be carried back to the here and now, to our false, illusory world of maya, of man, of all our made-up meanings.

Thursday’s practice was filled with these moments, beginning with Prasarita Padottanasana C when Jörgen managed to sneak up on me, arrive without my knowing — ah, yes, that’s how  it’s supposed to be — and plant himself there, steady, sturdy, and pull me further along to where I need to be.

And again in utthita hasta padangusthasana. In Tiryam Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana. In Marichyasana A. Somehow not in Kurmasana, But deep, deep, deepest in Baddha Konasana.

He pushed my arms toward each other in that one, taking my elbows from being spread toward my knees and leaving them more straight in front of me. “I know your tricks,” he said, as down, down we went. What trick, I thought? What trick?

And then… nothing. Or, everything.

Posted by Steve


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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