Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday Morning

Well, sitting here drinking a soy latte with Kelly who just told me that on Saturday they are predicting a high of "only 99." What is up with "only 99" sounding cool? Ah, but I digress...

So yesterday afternoon was a fun-filled yoga afternoon. I went to Jeremiah's audition class at Castle Hill at 2. He did a really really really good job. I was so pleased. He worked a theme well, he had an interesting sequence with good linking of actions from pose to pose, he helped the people who needed help, he did good demonstrations, he had a lovely teaching presence and all in all, it was a great class, especially because audition classes are pretty contrived and hard to prepare for.

I stayed for the hour after that to continue my practice before teaching which gave me a J-Man a chance to debrief the class a little, and to chat and catch up a bit which was fun. He and I were talking a lot about yoga practice, faith, belief, philosophy, commercialism, personal experiences with yoga and so forth. The conversation fed me some good ideas for the themes I worked on last night which was really about having a kind of faith in the practice itself.

I mean the thing that keeps me practicing it that I feel I am benefiting from the practice. This is also what Jeremiah said. It is not that I "believe" every bit of yoga philosophy or tidbit of dharmic teaching I run across or that is presented to me or even that I present to others. To me, it isn't really about belief as it is about a knowing in my heart that this path is a valuable one to walk. I feel that I am benefiting on a lot of levels and so I keep going. It is kind of simple thing.

You know, from what I understand yoga has always been about the direct experience of these ideals, not about a fancy intellectual rap. (although there is plenty of that to be had in philosophical study." One thing Carlos Pomeda once told me in an email is that (paraphrasing a bit) "Philosophy without practice is like having a gourmet recipe but not getting to eat the meal."

So to me, its about the meal. And, as someone who likes to cook and to eat, certainly in certain cases, following the recipe is crucial. Knowing certain cooking techniques and how they differ is important- like if you are not clear on the difference between broiling something and boiling something- well you quickly learn "what difference a difference can make." (that is a Douglas Brooks phrase there!)

Anyway- my point is that sometimes it gets really big in terms of the philosophy but there is a way that a life of practice is pretty simple when you reduce it down to a matter of the heart and not the mind. Are we drawn to something? Do we long for a deeper knowing? A deeper expression? Do we feel that our practices are bringing us closer to what is is that we long for? Like that.

And my point in class was that yoga can take us into the domain of the heart, into a direct experience of Grace where it is not so much about ideology and conforming to the outside world of "do and don't"- be it the religious, cultural, and/or sub-cultural "do's and don'ts"- and into a deeper knowing within ourselves of who we are and what is right for us. Really, it is not a mental thing.

So on practical note, both classes were super strong last night. At 4:30 we worked on strong standing poses in flow with hip opening and into eka pada koundinyasana and at 6:30 at BBY we worked on "rocking horse urdhva danurasana". I was pretty psyched after the evening because people were really working so hard with a nice mood of effort, grace, and attention. It was very cool. Starting in September the BBY 6:30 class will be an Int/Adv. class so keep that in mind.

Oh- and just in case you cannot come to class on Thursday night at Breath and Body and you want some food for thought, Craig is giving a lecture at Central Market North on the history and health benefits of tea. Think about it- you could come to Castle Hill at 4:30 and head up the street for dinner and a free lecture about tea- something that tastes great AND is good for you. How many things can you say that about?

1 comment:

Dale said...

So many wonderful things to comment on - ok, I'll pick one to get started.

Why do Zen folks sit in meditation? Because it is a good idea. Eat when you are hungry. Drink when you are thirsty. Meditate when you can, because it is what you choose to do when you do not _have_ to be doing something else.

In Christian thought - pray all the time. Why? Why not!?!?!?! Whay not talk to God all the time? Why not hang with the Divine all the time? Got something better to do :-)???

So, how about asana for the sheer joy of it? Asana for fun, for excitement, for whatever draws us back to the mat? Asana for the promise of benefit, even if we cannot rigorously define it at every moment.

Right now I have had to lay off practicing asana for a week, & I am hungry for asana. I am practicing some meditation and some pranayama, but I want my asana :-). I want to get back to that yummy place - that place where I experience something like bliss.

So I might boldly go even further than practicing because I believe that asana will benefit me in some way, & say that I practice because I really enjoy it.

There are many great reasons to practice, but my honest heart motivation for practice is becasue I love to practice.

Perhaps this is merely hedonism. But I don't feel that. What I feel is the natural near-inevitableness of practicing. It feels somehow fundamentally right to practice, as if I were a sprinkler watering the lawn or a bicycle being ridden. It feels like me being who I am in some absolute sense, or at least as close to that as I can come in the world of phenomena.

Maybe that is shallow, but it just seems natural.