Friday, March 20, 2009

Off to Corpus Christina

So I had a great day yesterday that was kind of blend of work and pleasure as many of my days are. In fact, I think in many ways and on most days, my work is very pleasurable so that particular expression isn't so appropriate for my life at this point. Those two things are not at odds in any way with one another.

Interestingly, I have have this conversation several times over the last few weeks with a few different friends who work for themselves and who also have what most days feels like the great fortune to have a vocation that is also the work of their hearts. We were saying that there is a financial reality to the amount of work one must do to make a living teaching yoga, doing acupuncture, doing massage and so forth. But also, all of us said we enjoy our work more than many so-called leisure activities and many of us commented that we are more effective and happier when our lives are a bit on the busy side rather than on the under scheduled side.

Surely there are some downsides to this lifestyle and we all acknowledged needing rest and time for personal reflection and integration but the whole model of "working for the weekend" isn't the paradigm under which we operate. Call it workaholism or call it OCD or call it the insatiable drive of pitta derangement or perhaps it is simply what someone who is passionate about their work does. Hmm...

Anyway- I started the day talking with Desirae about updating my website so that is exciting. It is in desperate need of an overhaul so that project is now underway. I came home and did some prep for the Corpus weekend, ate lunch, went on a walk with Gioconda, went to the Love Shack practice that Mandy was leading and then observed Mark's 6:30 class. I had hoped to make it to the end of Craig's lecture at YY South but by the time Mark and I were done discussing his class, I would have only made it for 20 minutes which was really too late.

My practice went swimmingly yesterday. Many of you know that my asana aim for the year is to grab my ankles in kapotasana and so yesterday I got my heels all by myself. I have gotten them before but always with help and so this was a huge breakthrough for me. (Only few more inches for my short arms to reach to get a hold of my ankles. It really could happen. It is only March after all...) I am glad I have this pose as a goal pose this year because I have not given it near the attention I give other back bends over the years. It is definitely one pose that I tend to skip. It took me so long to simply understand the pose and how to get the freedom I needed in the process of practicing it to get the crunch out of my low back. (And contrary to a lot of discussion out there about this pose and the importance of "arm bones back " in it, in my experience, this pose is really made possible by the verticality of the thighs and the strong work of the pelvic loop and organic energy into the legs. Height, its all about height. In the pose, not of the practitioner...) Having it as a stated an public goal helps goad me a bit into practicing it on days I might just stay with backbends that come a bit more easily to me. This is one pose that is not friendly to the long-torsoed and short-armed practitioner... But alas there is still the form to pursue and the process of transformation we engage (or that engages us) when we diligently enter into the lessons of these forms. I love that.

Mark's class was good. Mark has such knowledge of the method in his own body and heart and that really comes through in his teaching. His teaching presence is quite lovely (and we all know Mark is a lovely person- inside and out- so it is great to see that beauty reflected in the offering he makes as a teacher.) And it was great to get a chance to review his class with him and to offer some suggestions for taking his teaching to the next level.

And plus, he endeared himself to me forever- although he already has long ago, truth be told- for not saying "but I don't teach like this normally" when I gave him feedback. Of course you don't. But what teaching under pressure reveals is where we default to. And what practice does and what experience hopefully gives, is the opportunity to raise the bar on our default mode. That way when we are sick, when we are going through our personal turmoil, when we are not inspired, when our teacher is in the class, we have a "body of habits" that can teach a great class. Our source of teaching can be connected to something other than the rise and fall of our moods and emotions, our personal circumstances and so forth. We can default to a state of competence and even default to a state of excellence. This idea is really exciting to me. That is what practice is all about.


Pamela said...

Okay I haven't even READ your post yet but had to comment immediately on your title creativity! You crack me up.

Have a great weekend,

Pamela said...

And now that I HAVE read it, I love the last paragraph on DEFAULT - perfect. It is exactly the philosophy that military training utilizes. You get it so deeply ingrained in you that UNDER PRESSURE you don't have to think, it's just your default. Beautiful!

And my own kudos to Mark as well ... We are blessed to have such a diverse & growing kula of inspiring teachers!

Love P