It’s in the back seat.
Bad timing: I’ve got a week with Dena Kingsberg coming up. Then of course there’s the event that spurred the creation of this blog, The Ashtanga Yoga Confluence. Then, a weekend with Kino McGregor. I should be nervous. Excited. Instead, I’m pretty mellow about it all.
I’ve had a quarter sabbatical from teaching writing, so I’ve had big plans to make it across Los Angeles to practice with Noah Williams. Not yet. I’ve been prioritizing my poetry, and been content with my home practice. What happened?
We saw a lot of temples in India. And by “saw” I mean went into the inner sanctums and had darshan–auspicious sight–with the murti, the main deities. We spent a lot of time in the temple towns, and all of our energy was focused on learning about the forms of Hindu worship and the philosophy of India, its religion and epistemology.
Also, we practiced Ashtanga.
Now, we practiced in some pretty fantastic locations: Facing the Bay of Bengal, in the shadow of Arunachala, within view of gopurum (temple towers) to Siva, Vishnu, Ganesha. Morning practice with Kate O’Donnell was indeed amazing. Kate’s first kapotasana adjustment changed the way I do the pose, and it gave me hope where before there was none (yes, it was that good). On New Year’s Day, Steve and I did a mala–108 sun salutes. It was beautiful. But there were days when there was no place to practice as a group, so we practiced pranayama in the room; or mornings when we were leaving too early to practice. This was an acceptable situation. I wasn’t in India to study yoga. I was there to see India.
But what I learned in seeing India was the real role of asana practice in yoga–at least for me. It’s been a tectonic shift.
Don’t get me wrong. Practice is still important, still a key part of my life. It still happens every day except Saturdays and Moondays, and we dedicate space to it in our home. Yesterday we drove two hundred miles round trip to Tim Miller’s for his Led First Series, and it was amazing, as usual. But somehow asana has faded in importance in my awarenss of yoga, and what the word yoga means.
Kate said that practice in India is different, practicing where, as she put it, “the veil is thinner” makes things possible that were not possible before. This was true. But for me, the biggest result of the thinner veil was the understanding that asana is a tool. And like any tool, it’s only as good as what I use it for.
Posted by Bobbie