It’s all Ashtanga, right?
That’s the intended bottom-line of our last post — and it seems to be reflected for the most part in the comments.
It’s a serious topic, though. And so here’s my counter pose/post, still on the same topic: the two types of Ashtanga.
It hit me during my third Surya Namaskara B. Or, really, it washed over me like a warm wave on a sandy shoreline.
I am still so sleepy, I realized. I am fuzzy-headed.
Being fuzzy-headed isn’t new during an Ashtanga practice. (I’m sure someone will argue it is my defacto state of mind.) But this morning, after a bad night’s sleep that almost ended in my turning off the alarm, it felt in stark contrast to Sunday’s practice, after a full night’s sleep and later in the morning.
It’s going to be one of these practices, I realized. The sleepy one, the somnambulant type.
As opposed to the awake type, the lively one.
Two very different states of Ashtanga.
The sleepy one benefits from a certain lack of awareness; but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It keeps the defenses and the doubts from flooding ahead. By default, almost, you can find yourself deeper in a pose, beyond your own expectations. Your self sometimes is too sleepy to get in the way.
You don’t get caught up in the wrong awarenesses, hung up on distractions. You may go through a few motions (not the best thing, obviously) and wake up to discover you’re where you wouldn’t have thought you could reach.
The sleepy one, of course, has plenty of problems. For one, you’re sleepy! (You may hear a voice say, “Eyes closed, sleep is coming.”) You are likely to miss things as you flow on a bit of autopilot through your poses.
Sleepy does not encourage drishti.
The awake Ashtanga is full of energy and movement and vigor. Both of body, which is good, and of mind, which can be bad. During an awake practice, the mind can dart about, flitting from this thought to that, resisting the intent of the practice: to slow things down toward a focus.
The awake practice also can get caught up in doubt. Or fear. And it can be confronted by possibility because the body of the awake practice can be warm, looser. More inclined to the twists and turns of the practice. Embracing of movement.
The body of the sleepy practice may be stiff, unpliable. Resistant. But you may not notice that, and so you just carry on.
The best practice (ah, the beauty of judgement there) combines both in some alchemical mix.
Posted by Steve