The importance, or not, of sacredness

Is it a feeling of home?

A few weeks back, I had to practice a few mornings in my hotel room — not entirely successfully.

And then I got back to our dedicated yoga room, complete with altar, Hindu gods, pictures — including of Tim Miller.

The difference was almost night and day.

Some of that comes from terribly obvious and wholly physical reasons: More, familiar space; the regular mat; any necessary props.

But there’s also something more esoteric to it, whatever it is that builds up from repeated practices (or mantras or chanting) and lingers.

It’s why, I suspect, people were so happy to hear that Ashtanga Yoga New York is not moving. Guruji was there; there’ve been umpteen hours of serious practice; there’s also the Broome St. Temple activities. It’s why people still think back fondly on the old Ashtanga Yoga Center space, which by every account I’ve heard certainly wasn’t as nice as the current one. (And I think a lot of the nostalgia has dissipated as the new location has gathered up this … whatever you want to call it.) It’s what you hear about practicing in Mysore, especially the old shala. (And, like with AYC, increasingly the new.)

Shakti, maybe. The power that builds up and embodies a space of serious Sadhana. (Which may mean it isn’t the right word for our home practice space, or at least only half right.)

It mostly makes for a better — in the sense of deeper, more focused, more yoga-ish — practice. It’s something one can tap into, a wave one can ride. But perhaps it also can be off-putting, a wall to those who might be skeptical of the sense of sacredness. (Or skeptical of the idea of surrender.)

It might be the one good thing I can think of in regards to SUP yoga.

Posted by Steve

5 hours of driving, 3 hours of Tim Miller

Bobbie and I both had a couple of bigger “aha” moments on Saturday during Tim Miller’s workshop on sadhana, a fundraiser for the Sean O’Shea Foundation.

Sadhana, Tim explained, also means “great accomplishment” — and that was more the theme for his talk/ asana practice/ pranayama/ bhakti exploration.

We’ll get to those other moments in the coming days; we need to let them cook a little.

Here, though, is a run of a few highlights from the afternoon:

  • I appreciated this from Tim: “My ideas are not necessarily supposed to be confused with truth.”
  • Without the distractions of the Internet or HBO (I will assume he watches Game of Thrones), the ancient yogis had the time to undertake an “exploration of the internal landscape.” And it is an attempt to uncover that which already exists within us. I think the “already” there is fairly important.
  • All really good sadhanas share one thing: lineage. It comes down from yogis who have done a lot of study and personal experimentation. He also noted that Ashtanga has been taken through some of the 20th Century’s greatest minds and bodies.
  • Ashtanga, as a breath-based system (he definitely emphasized the breath during the day), works profoundly on the second kosha — pranamaya kosha.
  • Another little joke to pass on: While talking about how to get through the mental kosha — the manamaya kosha — he spoke about the role of mantra — that which protects the mind from “spinning out into vritti-ville.” I think I have an ocean front condo there.
  • Tim set up the various ways we move through the koshas, as outlined in the Yoga Sutras. He then asked: How do we cross the threshold from the fourth — vijnanamaya kosha — to the fifth, the anandamaya? You don’t get there through effort. You have to surrender — to grace, love, compassion.
  • “Polishing the mirror is the essence of sadhana.”

And he plugged Ram Dass’ latest book, of the same name.

More to come. Oh, and we did end up driving about five hours for the three-hour workshop. A good ratio.

Posted by Steve