For example – something like Mari D. A very easy asana to avoid, but if you come to the practice like I did, where that posture took A LOT of patience then, there is much more to be learned by working through it than avoiding it. That is where the real essence of the practice lies. If the sequence is too loose then it misses the point. From my understanding, if we’re talking “traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa asana”, then the foundation of the physical sequence does not change. We don’t skip something just because it’s hard or we don’t like it. … Otherwise, our natural tendency to avoid that which makes us uncomfortable, becomes our guiding light and again, we miss the point.
That gets to something else we posted recently, based on last weekend’s Tim Miller workshop: Ashtanga as Sadhana, as self-study. Or, to put it another way, Ashtanga is a metaphor for life — or a series of lessons on how to live.
One of the lessons — I think we’ll all agree — we take from Ashtanga is learning to apply right effort in difficult situations, without losing our cool. The commenter went right to one of those poses where we can lose our cool: Marichyasana D. It can hurt (in the “good” Ashtanga way), it can be frustrating, it can be intimidating. Like a lot of life, in other words. And so it is good preparation for all our time off the mat.
A point of Ashtanga is to not give up, right? “Avoidance is not the answer,” Tim would say. “You do,” Guruji would say.
Here’s the counter:
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
That’s Albert Einstein, of course. (At least, most people attribute it to him; I’m not sure it’s 100% definite, but we’ll roll with the punches.) And it leads to this thought: Is there a point when doing that asana over and over and over again because insane? I’m never — I’m pretty sure — going to bind in Marichyasana D. But I’ve also not gone as deeply into it as I suspect I can. (Right now, with my right knee again acting up, I’m farther away from the bind than normal.) If there comes a point, though, when I can say, honestly, “That’s as far as I’m going to get,” then what?
One answer is, of course, to keep at it to the extent I can do it. But that’s different from twisting into the pose with the intent on — finally! — getting the bind.
Another answer might be: We aren’t always doing the poses the same way. We find new areas of flexibility or better approaches into them. Is that true, though? (I’m honestly not sure.)
I wonder whether this point is where Ashtanga leaves off being a neat metaphor for life. Or does the Ashtanga practice suggest Einstein was wrong on this?
Posted by Steve