Every new video that David Garrigues posts just makes us bigger (virtual) fans of his.
He’s had one up for a few days, and we’ve been remiss in not getting to everyone’s attention earlier. Here it is:
This one hits home for us because of the focus on pain and injury. Bobbie and I were talking yesterday (while sitting on the beach, because it was beautiful in Los Angeles) about our own relationship to both, and the fact that we have come to accept injury and pain as inevitable.
As David notes at about the 1:30 mark, there is a karmic factor to pain and injury. (Last night, I was reading the part in the Ramayana when Ram, Sita and Laksmana leave for the forest, and there is much discussion of karma.) And then he drops the biggie, which I’ll paraphrase: You can’t have a long, intense relationship with Ashtanga without some kind of injury.
That’s a pretty dramatic statement. But if you think about it, and you think about the other Ashtangis you know, is it true?
From our experience, both our own and people we know, yes. Knee injuries. Shoulder injuries. A torn this and a snapped that. “It just happens,” David says.
I guess the counter to this is from another David, David Williams. He suggests (from our experience with him, which isn’t exhaustive) that there shouldn’t be any pain, and that once injury happens, something is lost.
I don’t want to question Williams, but given our very different experience from his, I wonder two things:
- It seems like he was almost a genetic freak when it came to being flexible and capable of doing asanas; the stories I’ve heard make it sound like Guruji tried to find new poses to challenge him when he first arrived there. But as DG notes in the above video, most of us have some genetic factor that leads to injury.
- I wonder about the difference of experience with Ashtanga from those, like Williams, who encountered Guruji at the beginning of the West’s arrival and those who spent more time in Mysore later. Does something in that difference inform this and other alternatives in approach to the practice? I don’t know.
Now, beyond that, I certainly can see where someone might respond negatively to DG’s — and many other Ashtangis’ — relationship and attitude toward injury, which as DG says about the 2-minute mark, leads one to new truths and new discoveries. That might just seem like a crazy Stockholm, er, Mysore, Syndrome. “New body is making,” really? Someone should write a book about how yoga can hurt you, if that’s the case. (Wait, what? Really?)
Well, in our experience, yes, “new body is making.” As we continue to process our Yatra to India, I think one could look at the trip, the intense visits to temples, the long days of travel, the challenges to belief and thinking, as having given us injury — emotional and intellectual — that we are recovering from, slowly but surely. “New body is making,” indeed. Both of the gross and subtle varieties.
Posted by Steve