Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Morning Musings

So- I am in the airport now, on my way to Portland, Oregon. My brother in law is graduating from college tomorrow so Kelly and I are going to go to his graduation and make a weekend trip out of to celebrate our 13 year anniversary. (YIPPEE.)

I will miss the last day of The Gathering but I think I have the gist of the direction of things and while I would have liked to be there for the final day, I am also ready to meet up with Kelly and change gears for a few days. The last two days were a bit more focused and clear than the first two days, in my experience. John continued to clarify what he means by "The Art and Culture of Anusara Yoga" and to ground his vision a bit more for all of us.

John has always been interested in asana as an artistic expression and has always talked about living life creatively, artistically and intentionally from the recognition of our Essential Self. (Chit-ananda, right?) As he began to actually call that idea something more concrete like "The Art and Culture of Anusara Yoga" it begged a question of "what exactly does that mean?" Many people seemed worried that there would be some Anusara Yoga Way that they would be expected to conform to and so on.

From what I can tell, his vision is not some clear cut set of "ways" as much as it is a context to hold and to live. The Art and Culture of Ansuara Yoga is not meant to limit or to prescribe as much as it is to invite each one of us into an inquiry and experiment about living our dharma as authentically as possible in the spirit of Divine Creativity. After all, the hub of Ansuara Yoga is a set of Universal Principles that can be expressed in many ways through each of us and our various endeavors. Those various endeavors- from asana to parenting to teaching to reading to painting, to accounting to cooking to gardening to sculpting to hoola hooping and beyond would be considered art in this context, so long as they were reflecting the core values of Anusara Yoga.

I think this idea will require some skill to bring to life in a meaningful way, although we are already living it in many ways, truth be told. To me, I love that we have an expanded view of "allowable yogic expression" as a community. I love that we play the edge. I am into it. I also worry that in the expansion, the validation of the traditional, the validation and recognition of what creates the deepest stability in sadhana will get lost. I do not think this has to happen, and I think its a risk worth taking for the potential freedom playing the edge offers, but I still have a stake in claiming our traditional, sanity-producing, formal practices in a very public way.

Take a very common asana expression as an example--Once we started back bending poses like vasisthasana, trikonasana, virabhdrasana, etc. more often than not, people take that expression as their option. It feels so good to so many people to bend back in everything that they lose their taste for the straight lines of the classic forms. Or, how many people are working on balancing in handstands but not working with timing them? And how many people practice vinyasa but not long holds? And so forth.

In tantra playing the edge was only ever possible in sadhana when the center was strong. And the center is only strong through discipline, dedication, focus, commitment and so forth. (yes, I am old school on this and probably unpopular.) Alchemy, transmutation and transgressive practices stood on the solid foundation of meditation, pratyhara and deep, disciplined discernment. So its a spanda and I may end up being the voice for the center, not the edges. Who knows?

Anyway, all that is a lot to think about.

Yesterday, Vedic scholar, Bill Mahoney came to speak to us about some of the Vedic roots of Shiva-Shakti Tantra and about what he calls The Artful Universe. He wove teachings from Anusara Yoga with verses form the Vedas, the Upanishads and Narada Bhakti Sutras with a masterful understanding of Sanskrit to give us a solid scriptural basis for this evolving vision. It was fantastic. (And for me, whose hackles come up when anything out of any yoga teacher's mouth smacks of fluffy, New Age sentiment, I find this kind of thing very reassuring, grounding and delightful.)

For instance, the Sankrit word rita speaks to this idea that there is an underlying order to the Universe. The word also relates to dharma and is linguistically related to our English word for art. Pull on this thread a while and you get to what he calls rita visva- the Artful Universe and he suggested that the Divine Principle that supports the entire Universe is art. Continue down this line of grammar and linguistics and you get to the word "right" also which takes you to "ritual" which can be understood as "artistic behavior that is performed in order to keep the world Holy." And that was the tip of the iceberg. It got much better from there.

So- there is more that I could say but my plane is going to board soon.

One thing for sure, is that this was one of the best years (in my opinion) in terms how cohesive the community of teachers felt. So many people remarked to me that they felt closer than ever with their colleagues, more unified with one another and more supported than ever in the practice. What a blessing it is to keep this company.

Okay, more soon.


maggie said...

solid. grateful for the center. the individual expression is essential yet our steady eye on the center is what allows for freedom in the dance! Nataraj's steady eye-- so into that foundation

Jeremiah Wallace said...

"In tantra playing the edge was only ever possible in sadhana when the center was strong." I think this is very key. I borrowed your sister's Carlos Pomeda DVDs, and he was very adamant on the whole "it doesn't mean anything goes. These philosophies recognize the ideas which have come before and assume that one already has discipline and a foundation in practice" (not an exact quote). Going on a personal example, (and the fact that you know that I don't hide), when I decided to be a part time cage dancer, it wasn't for some ridiculous idea that people were going to look at me and compliment me and tell me how hot I am. And I also thought a lot and made a set of rules for myself. Like I went in there knowing that my whole job is to be sexually harrassed and be okay with it. So that is a kind of test for myself of my own resilience. I have certain rules for myself (no drugs, no dating random boys I meet at the club, no drinking at work). And the whole reason I decided to take this job in the first place was and still is to support my education (whether it's university or yogic education). And funny enough, most people in the club drool over the other guys, but look at me like deer in the headlights with a mixture of awe and fear in their eyes. LOL! Is dancing asana? No, but it supports my asana, and makes me practice outside of the box too.

Anyways, back to the Wisdom of Yoga DVDs for me. Have an awesome time in Portland!



authentic self yoga said...

I love your blog. It is full of wisdom and gives me something to contemplate and research and journal on. Thank you for sharing

Mike Frosolono said...

"Will the center hold?" does appear to be a relevant question in this context as in many others. Looking forward to your Kelly's return to Austin Monday night. We await your call for the Frosolono Limo service.

Mike Frosolono said...

I left out an "and"; hence, we definitely look forward to both of you returning to Austin.

佳瑩 said...

人生是經驗的累積。不論遭遇任何不幸,都應該堅忍不屈,繼續努力向前邁進 ..................................................

Dale said...

Chit ananda - sure. Yoga has always been an artform to me, but like most good art, also a discipline and an art that is illuminated by science and enabled by a consistent and powerful technology. To me, the art of yoga is what my unique self does that arises from deep within me, is held to the disciplines of ahimsa and unflinching truth, is fired by passionate love, is guided by the UPAs, and may not be explainable to or discernable by another person. It is the primal upwelling of me-ness, purified, sharpened, strengthened, guided, and made beautiful and holy by the technology of Anusara yoga.

Someone taught that the creative impulse of a 3yr old might be a wonderful as that of an adult professional artist, but the artist was able to use skills, experience, and wisdom to express himself. And that is how I think of my yoga (even though it does look amazingly like short-fat-old guy yoga - imagine that :-).

The perfection of ananda really is more than just the wild and uninhibited expression of joy in chit - although it is primally wild, all of the best art is also highly skilled, disciplined, and wise.

Another thing - I think that authentic self-expression isn't about learning forms, like learning certain dancy moves in the yoga. That would be imposing an arbitrary form on the body. I think that it is more about learning, deeply and fully, how our bodies work, and then moving acurately or authentically. Imagine if we could see the optimal blueprint of our body in a 3D image, and then cause it to move in biomechanical faithfulness to the optimal blueprint. Then add on a layer of our divine nature expressing itself in that movement, so that we move not only with biomechanical integrity but also as an expression of love, devotion, and celebration. That seems to me to be the art of yoga, Anusara style.

Truth matters. Skill matters. Moving skillfully in truth is authentic, accurate, and perfect. Taking any movement or pose that is not done in the truth of my current optimal blueprint is inauthentic, and no matter how many twirls or flourishes I add on, or how I try to imitate something beautiful that isn't really me, it still isn't the real dance. The real dance is done in the truth of me, and the spirit of the Divine.

Ans so it goes...

Dale said...

Mike, I've been thinking about the center lately, too. "And mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."

And then in Barnes & Noble, I saw a journal with the imprint of the Crown, & the title "Keep Calm and Carry On". And I remembered (well, by proxy :-), the original little book of this title which the Home Office printed for London, showing the location of bomb shelters and offering encouragement and advice on holding up during the Blitz. It reminds me of the best of WWII British culture, and then very best response to the things which threaten to make things fall apart and the center not hold.

It has become a very useful mantra to me - Be Calm and Carry On.

Until God rolls up creation like a discarded garment, there will be a Center :-), & in Him all things cohere :-). Interesting that this old book would remind me of that, but hey, mysterious ways :-).

If you get near Austin, let me know - I'd like to chat some time.

Laura said...


Wish I had met you while in NC last week. I love the post and was very glad for your verbal contribution noting that a lot of teachers are holding the center and diving more deeply into traditional sadhana. I agree wholeheartedly so hope that, in fact, your opinion does not turn out to be an unpopular one! Laura Flora -- New Orleans (talk about a place where people play the edge!)