An even better Tuesday explanation

As promised in our first post, we’ll highlight the writings and goings-on of the five teachers who will lead the Confluence.

Tim Miller posted his weekly “Tuesdays with Timji” piece a short time ago, and this week’s is a good primer on what Tuesday is all about and what the Ashtanga practice means, too:

Regarding Tuesdays, Guruji used to say, “Tuesday is a bad day.” When I asked him why he replied, “Some fighting.” In Vedic astrology, Tuesday is associated with the planet Mars. Of the planets, Mars is known as the “lesser malefic”—Saturn being the “greater malefic.” In Roman mythology Mars is the God of War–one of its primary associations has been with conflict, and accidents as well. Guruji would never shave on Tuesday because of this association of Mars with accidents, particularly accidents involving the head, since Mars rules the sign Aries, which is linked to the head. In Mysore, Guruji never gave anyone a new pose on a Tuesday, because of this potential for accidents.

I tend to think of Tim as as much Vedic astrologer as Yogi, if one can unwind those two. Check out his thoughts if you haven’t already or don’t normally.

He gives a little shout-out to Hanuman, too.


If it’s Tuesday, it must be Hanuman

Those of you who follow or are at least familiar with some Hindu practices know that Tuesday is a day when we worship and remember Hanuman.

Hanuman, to be all too brief, is Rama’s great, devoted servant. A vanara, a monkey-like race, Hanuman is the one who (spoiler alert!) finds Sita after she has been abducted by the demon Ravana. That story is from the Ramayana, a version of which Bobbie talks about below.

Crazy monkey -- not Hanuman

Often, I think, we have an image of Hanuman that emphasizes his “monkeyness.” Yes, we know he’s brave, we know he’s a great warrior, but he’s still just a monkey — not even a more powerful looking ape.

In Ramesh Menon’s Ramayana, however, when we first meet Hanuman, he easily picks up and carries both Rama and his brother, Lakshmana. Menon describes him as “tall as a tree.” The monkeyness isn’t downplayed, but it is clear that the description is really just our — humans’ — best approximation of what a vanara is. We are, after all, hearing a story from two yuga ago — the treta yuga, when things weren’t nearly as messed up as they are now. How are we supposed to grasp the nuisance of Hanuman’s nature and being?

That’s one of our great challenges, of course: to understand the meaning of those ancient stories.

For me, thinking of Hanuman as much more than just a monkey, but certainly not as an ape, helps mightily with grasping the complexity of his devotion, his faith, his service and, yes, his strength.

And his strength is awfully attractive come Urdhva Dhanurasana.

Wait, don’t have all the facts?

At risk of having put the cart before the elephant (see the great book “The Hindus” for much information about why horses are/were so important in early Indian culture), here’s the information for the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence.Right. Makes sense to have that here. Although there is a link over there to your right.Here’s a more pronounced link, and below is the schedule:

First Annual Ashtanga Yoga Confluence Schedule

Thursday, March 1st
6:00 p.m-6:30 p.m. – Ganesh Puja
In India the elephant headed god is known as the Remover of Obstacles and the Lord of Beginnings. He is honored at important ceremonies to insure an auspicious beginning and successful completion of the event. The Ganesh Puja will be performed by Eddie Stern.

6:30 p.m-8:30 p.m. – Catered Opening Ceremony

Friday, March 2nd
7.00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. – Guided Intro Class taught by Richard (asana)

7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. – Mysore taught by Tim, David, Nancy and Eddie with certified and authorized teacher assistance (asana)

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – “Working In”– The Art of Breathing taught by Tim (pranayama)
Pranayama, literally “the extension of the life force,” is an important practice that cultivates clarity of mind, longevity and pratyahara (the inward turning of attention). Tim will introduce pranayama techniques to explore aspects of the pranamaya kosha (subtle body) such as the chakras and the pancha vayus (the five pranas) and to serve as the vital link between external methodology and internal experience.

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Flying, Floating and Handstanding taught by David 
(asana with partner)
Flying, Floating and Handstanding: In this fun-filled exploration of vinyasa and arm balances, we’ll break down the vinyasa into its components and explore handstands and arm balances through the avenue of partner work. All levels can attend – even if you’ve never done a handstand.

3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. – Panel Discussion with Tim, David, Richard, Nancy and Eddie for the entire group to attend together (lecture/discussion)
Q & A discussion, stories about Guruji, etc.

Saturday, March 3rd
7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. – Guided Intro Class taught by Tim (asana)

7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. – Mysore taught by Richard, David, Nancy and Eddie with certified and authorized teacher assistance (asana)

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Intro to the Second Series taught by Nancy and assisted by Tim Miller (asana)
An introduction to Nadi Shodana (purification of the little rivers), the intermediate series of Asthanga Yoga.

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Backbending on the Current of Breath taught by Richard (asana)
An energetic exploration of integrated whole-body patterns found in backbending. We’ll work with the internal alignment mirrored in the pelvic floor as it moves around the central axis of the body. Using these patterns, combined with integrated muscular patterns within the hamstrings, abdominal wall, shoulders and arms, we’ll construct a series of deep backbends that are grounded, open and free of pain.

3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. –The Symbolic Meaning of the Hindu Deities: Ganesh & Hanuman taught by Eddie and Tim for the entire group to attend together (lecture/discussion)
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra II.44 states “Swadyaya Ishta Devata Samprayogaha – Union with the chosen deity comes from the study of self through the sacred texts”. Eddie and Tim will shed light on their chosen deities Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and Hanuman, the dispeller of afflictions.

7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. – Music by M.C. Yogi

Sunday, March 4th
7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. – Guided Intro to Ashtanga taught by Nancy followed by Loving Kindness Meditation (asana)

7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. – Mysore taught by Tim, David, Richard and Eddie with certified and authorized teacher assistance (asana)

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga with Tim, David, Richard, Nancy and Eddie for the entire group to attend together (lecture/discussion)
The first five limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are known as the external limbs. Pattabhi Jois said “The first five limbs of yoga are very difficult-the last three are easy!” Each teacher will illuminate a yama and a niyama, as well as discuss the the lager context of the first five limbs, or even all eight if time permits.

3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. – Ashtanga Yoga and Daily Life with Tim, David, Richard, Nancy and Eddie for the entire group to attend together (lecture/discussion)
All of the teachers will reflect on what it means to be a yogi in the modern world, as a westerner and a householder and how one’s practice changes over time in relation to the aging process. Questions submitted in advance will be answered.

The toughest decision for me was the Friday 11 a.m. classes. I knew “Working In” meant Tim; I’ve seen him call his teaching that, before. And I don’t lightly miss an opportunity to sit with him. (Side note: Two weeks from now we’ll be in Mt. Shasta with Timji; we’ll see how the blog posting goes from there. At worst, we will try to have lots of pictures. Shasta is wonderful if you ever get the chance.) But I’ve also done pranayama with him, so I chose — reluctantly — the other course. And while I’ve had a weekend course from David Swenson before, I think his jumping and handstanding lessons will come at a perfect time in the Spring. I’ll be much more ready.

I also assumed Tim would be involved in the Second Series intro; again, something I’ve done though Second is a bit beyond these stiff bones. So it was hard to go against that current, too. But I’m very excited to get a chance to have some teachings from Richard Freeman, whose books and thinking on Astanga and yoga are very interesting to me — and I think, very different from the strand from Guruji I’ve received so far.

So that will be one of many highlights, even though right now my backbends are more “backthings.”

— Posted by Steve