Well, it is Wednesday morning and it seems like a lot has happened since my last post. The Monday night San Marcos class learned urdhva danurasana for the first time, so that was cool. It was neat to see how a group of people who have really learned the "armbone back" principle could keep it together when they went into the backbend preparation. Also fun to teach that poses to people who have not learned it another way because getting everyone to stop on their head and plug their arms in was not a challenge- they have no previous habit of just pushing up as soon as they can. And everyone made progress on the pinca variation from the previous week.
The Level One class learned ardha halasana with the feet on a chair which was great fun. We have some new folks joining that class which is great because that means the likelihood of the class staying on the schedule increased dramatically! It was getting dangerously small over the holidays but now it seems quite solid.
We are working with the theme from Patanjali's Second sutra this week. Yoga is the cessation of the happenings of the mind. Anyway, while I do believe that there is probably a yogic state where the mind actually does stop I am interested more in looking at samadhi as Carlos suggested as a "joining together" or "A bringing together" and so to me, in a practical sense, Yoga is that state when I am joined with my deepest self. Whether or not, in that place the actual brain waves cease I could care less. But if the process of yoga I could be joined in such a way that I am not wavering (nirodhah) from my decision to Practice then, yes, that would be very cool.
The Russian Mystic G.I. Gurdjieff talked about how each one of us has multiple "I's". So one "I" wants to practice, one "I" is only out for herself, one "I" is pretty dedicated to service, another "I" only wants to party, one "I" wants to get up for meditation, one "I" loves to snuggle down under the covers until the last possible minute...And on like that. (This is not so dissimilar from the Transactional Analysis model for you psychology buffs, but with a spiritual context, not a psychological one.)
So in our minds we are usually wavering from the aim of the heart because there are fluctuations between the "I's" and what they each want. If yoga could cease that wavering and join these "I's" together toward one common aim where the different "I's" were not working against each other, well, that would be as close to samadhi as I would ever need to come.
So that was Monday. Muscle Energy. Sutra 1.2.
Last night in Austin we worked with the principles of Muscle Energy as they relate to the earth element and as they relate to studentship. In our Immersion over the weekend I asked the question "What is studentship?" And I got some lovely answers about being "open, receptive and willing". These are very common answers to this question of studentship. (I have asked it around the country, in various trainings and situations and these are the most common responses. Really.)
The thing to me that is always shocking about this discussion is how much more common the answers of openness are compared to hardworking, disciplined, committed, tenacious, unrelenting, passionate, etc. So I got to thinking about how usually John discusses studentship in relationship to the five elements because each element has a different quality and studentship is such a big task that we need all five aspects covered to get the job done.
So the "open, willing and receptive" kind of answer is the ETHER element. It corresponds to OPEN TO GRACE because we must be open to help, open to the highest possibility. The Ether element is the element out of which all the other elements arise. Same with Grace. Same with openness. Without that, we have no prayer for success.
But after that opening, we must come down to EARTH. The earth element is solid, stable, long-enduring, steadfast. So we need steadiness, reliability, solidity, and discipline in our lives as students. We can bring those qualities into the body through muscle energy. We can have all the openness in the world but if we are not grounded, stable, disciplined and long-standing in our practice, we will not get very far.
So we worked on opening the hips to create a stable seat in the flow class and on lots of balancing poses and backbendslike ekapada urdhva dnaurasanaa to cultivate steadiness in challenging positions at 6. It was great fun. I mean, I had fun and it seemed like most people did. Kelly and Svetha both double-dipped and while a lot of people I am used to seeing on Tuesday were absent, there were lots of familiar faces there practicing.
So in Austin this month we will be looking at the elements as they relate to the principles and as they both relate to studentship. All right, that's the morning wrap up. I am going to write and the practice some asana before Kelly comes home from school. Have a good one.