Wow, yesterday was a very good day. Both classes were really strong- bth in asana and in mood. I feel like we are going to a new level lately. It is very cool.
In bth classes, I worked with an idea that Paul Mueller Ortega taught last December in Tucson. He said, as yogis, it is not so helpful to contrast right and wrong or good and bad. Better, he suggested, is to contrast superficial and deep. That, to me, is what the specificity of alignment is about- creating a deep relationship with the asana and with ourselves. It is about creating an intimacy with ourselves and a deep knowledge regarding our practice.
Think about love, about intimacy and relate it to yoga practice. (This was a metaphor Manorama used all weekend as well.) How, she asked, do you really know you are falling for someone? Well, you start noticing the nuances in their facial expressions, in their voice, in the way they carry themselves and you find you are fascinated, intrigued and enthralled by these details. You begin to notice what they like, what they do not like, you understand what they will think is funny, what they will find inspiring. You move away from the superficial, you go into the deep water.
Yoga is about the deep water. It is not that we deny or reject the delights that live on the surface, but yoga suggests that the real meaning in life is to be found underneath the surface, down in the depths and our practices are aimed at directing our attention to this level of awareness. And the coolest thing is that in this scenario we are both the Lover and the Beloved. We turn our attention on ourselves in a way that is deep, everlasting and loving. We get to be that person who knows us 100%. We get to be that person to ourselves who loves us unconditionally. We get to be that person from whom we do not have to hide.
Another thing Manorama pointed out- in another blinding and inspiring flash of the obvious- was that "You are the only person going all the way with you." People will come and go out of our lives but we are the only ones who will be there with us for the whole journey. Best that we learn who we are so that we do not get to the end of our lives and realize we missed the opportunity to know who we have been travelling with all this time. I found this both inspiring and a bit sobering.
The truth is, intimacy is a hot fire. It demands a lot. It is not some lovey-dovey state of chocolates, great sex and always getting along. It is NOT sweet nothings. It is most definitely something. It demands that we pay attention, that we learn, that we stay the course, that we develop the capacity to endure the discomfort of growth so that we do not "quit 5 minutes before the miracle," so to speak. We are not going to like everything we uncover on the way down to the deep water. We will pass through currents of doubt, judgement, jealousy, competition, grief, rage, and fear. But think about it- our other option is a life of not knowing our travelling companion, of walking through every situation in life without ourselves.
I laughed in class that alignment methods like us get critiqued in generally one of two ways. Some say- "well, it is so detail-oriented and so 'on the surface of the pose'- all that talk about where your foot goes, and what your arm bone is doing and so forth. I am more interested in what is going on inside." The other criticism that comes our way is just the opposite- "Oh god, all those details, I don't want to pay attention that deeply, I just want to space out and do my yoga..." Funny, both ends of the spectrum get tossed out there -from "I do not want to pay attention deeply" to "alignment is superficial." But I think both criticisms reflect a fundamental misunderstanding about what we are actually up to.
To me the details are about creating an intimacy with ourselves so that no part of us is forgotten or unattended to when we practice. It is about taking a stand for the reality that we are worth our own loving attention. It is a High Friendship. It is a Deep Love and it is decidedly different than living on the surface. Like I said yesterday, its all about access. Superficial approaches are fine. Deep approaches are fine. But they do not provide the same access. Period.