More words to chew on from Kino…I need to hear this today as I am healing from my hand surgery:
More words to chew on from Kino…I need to hear this today as I am healing from my hand surgery:
Man, I am missing the hell out of my Ashtanga asana practice. It’s been over two weeks and I am freaking miserable! Seriously, I feel like I am about to go nuts. I think I am going to try tomorrow and see how my hand holds up. If it’s OK, I’m going to resume until my hand surgery on Thursday. Going to try modifications for all of the Sun Salutations so that I don’t put so much weight on the finger. In the meantime, I have been reading a very interesting book and thinking lots about the non-asana and spiritual aspects of yoga:
This book takes the form of a conversation between Srivatsa Ramaswami and one of his senior students, David Hurwitz. Ramaswami is the guru and teacher behind the Vinyasa Krama system and was a direct student of Krishnamacharya. There’s all kinds of stuff for me to chew on while I am on the mend, including the statement:
“There is no violent yogi…yogis have clean minds and bodies….moderation is a yogic virtue…all that the yogi does, he does so with a sense of loving offering to God.”
Let me tell you, this totally ran through my mind this morning when I had a total meltdown in the parking lot of a health food store. It takes so little to set me off and bruise my ego sometimes that it just freaking amazes me. The slightest perceived insult about certain things (ahem, my weight or appearance) just pushes me over the edge. Talk about beneath the surface!
In the section entitled, “On Yoga Philosophy”, Ramaswami makes the following statement:
“So a person who has taken to yoga as a spiritual mission, after acquiring some conviction that yoga will lead the way to kaivalya, will have to spend time and effort to cultivate these traits of nonviolence and so on. Otherwise an angry young man, without deliberate attention and effort, will end up an angry old man, despite all other efforts. In fact the sage Vyasa, in his commentary on Yoga Sutras, compares the yogi who has taken to yoga and transgresses the yama niyamas to a dog who eats his own vomit.”
I had to look up the word “kaivalya” in the handy dandy glossary of Sanskrit terms at the back of the book (worth the purchase price alone!). Kaivalya: “to be alone, freedom.” The simple definition of namas and niyamas as yogic do’s and don’ts is about all I can handle right now. I interpret “yoga will lead the way to kaivalya” as: Yoga will lead me to a place where I can be truly alone, which is also a state of spiritual freedom. That is tantalizing. I think one of the primary appeals of Ashtanga yoga is the emphasis on slow and methodical solitary home practice as a mainstay of the system.
My brain is not wanting to wrap itself around a lot of what I read lately. Where’s Sanskrit for Dummies when I need it? I’m stressed and distracted and a yogini loose cannon. It’s going to take me some time to really read Yoga Beneath the Surface; there’s a whole lot of juicy, complex stuff happening in only 234 pages. A lot of it is way over my head, which makes me squirmy and happy at the same time. My ego-driven, prideful and intellectual inner Comparative Religion major self wants to immediately understand everything, NOW. It’s been a loooooong time since I even tried to study Sanskrit, and I was always half-assed about it anyway. In fact, it was a huge deterrent when I was thinking about applying to graduate school for Buddhist Studies. When I found out I would have to learn Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, German AND French for the graduate program I told my advisor, “I think I just want to go drink and wash dishes for a living and go to punk rock shows. I’m outta here.” Even though I did all of the course work for my degree, I ended up refusing to do my final oral comp exam (on Mircea Eliade) because I was convinced that the head of the department hated me and I decided it just wasn’t worth it. The English degree by itself was all I could manage. I still regret this, but I was too tired and sick at the time.
With that being said, I am going to go drink more coffee and read a regency romance novel. I think about all I can handle right now is The Revenge of Lord Eberlin and a nice, hot trough of hazelnut coffee.
Haruki Murakami’s magnum opus, 1Q84, sits in my lap as I write this. I’ve been approaching it cautiously, like a wildlife photographer approaching a sleeping Bengal tiger. Almost 1,000 pages of pure awesome…I don’t want to start reading it for fear that I will devour it all in the course of a weekend and then it will all be over. What if he never writes another book again? I feel like I should put it in a beautiful box behind glass with a tiny hammer attached and a note that reads, “Only read in case of Dire Emergency.” I already have one emergency book that I’ve been holding on to for 15 years: The Brothers Karamazov. I’ve read everything else Dostoyevsky’s written, but I can’t bring myself to read that book because I know it’s the end.
I’ve been thumbing through 1Q84, randomly opening it and looking for perfect sentences or hidden messages. Pretty soon I am going to have to take the plunge.
“Things can be seen better in the darkness,” he said, as if he had just seen into her mind. “But the longer you spend in the dark, the harder it becomes to return to the world above ground where the light is”
“The writer improves only when he writes constantly. Like a caterpillar which eats up the leaves.”
My love/hate (mostly love) relationship with Elephant continues…
A lovely interview with my future teacher (yes, I said it. I WILL study with this woman someday in spite of my fears and feelings of unworthiness!), Kino MacGregor:
On the relationship between yoga and writing:
“Writing is a practice too. Sometimes you don’t feel inspired but you have to get it done. Sometimes when you do the practice you start off uninspired but by the end some energy starts to flow.”
I’ve had a hard time writing since my hand has been infected by Satan’s own microbes. It hurts and is stiff, although at least now it doesn’t feel like it is being repeatedly skewered by a hot poker each and every time I try to move my hand. I am simultaneously dreading and eagerly anticipating surgery on Thursday.
I’ve gotten to (I’ll just say it, like the folks at the Confluence Countdown did!) the dreaded… first jump through. F@ck me gently with a chainsaw. I don’t even know where to start. Time to get an Ashtanga teacher, like, yesterday!!! People learn this at home? Not this person, apparently. I am totally baffled, befuddled and just all twisted.I found three videos online that were somewhat helpful, but watching and doing are two VERY different things. It’s that whole wiggle-your-big-toe phenomenon all over again. I am having faith that if I keep practicing, it will happen in its own sweet time. Right? Right. I would love to hear how this happened for other practitioners out there…give me some hope, people! In the meantime, I am jogging to the front of my mat in a graceless and lurching manner. I am beginning to wonder if the Grizzly Bear is my f@cking totem animal or what. Someone, please give me a goddamned tourist to maul!
Today I got my very first ever Reiki healing done. I was somewhat apprehensive, but it was strangely awesome. The practitioner looked so unassuming and kind of like a sweet soccer mom. When she worked on me, it felt like a cold-and-hot purple colored bomb went off in my entire hip area. I also felt like I was going to get sucked into the floor. So weird! I’ve always been a little put off by the woo-woo-ness of Reiki, but I figured I would give it a fair shot (I’m such a secret hippie). Nothing else has fixed my hip and leg problems thus far! She suggested that I practice yoga asanas that focus on the first and second chakras, and said that perhaps I should carry something orange and red in each of my pockets as well as wear orange and red. She gave me an angel card after. Normally I run screaming at the mere mention of the word “Angel”, as it brings visions…not of dancing sugarplums, but of writhing people speaking in tongues (thanks Mom). However, I am trying to remember that whole not having contempt prior to investigation thing, grrr…
I drew the PATIENCE card, ha ha ha!!! I am to enjoy being a student right now according to this card. Hint From Universe: In order to be a student, you need to GET A TEACHER.
Glad someone out there has a sense of humor about it all!
Dear Tender Readers: Um, *lots* of cursing is about to happen.
You know what comes up if you google “Plus Sized Yoga”? Either ads for clothes or people bashing the idea of there even being such a thing as “Plus Sized Yoga”. People be hatin’ on Plus Sized Yoga. Like, what will the fat lazy people come up with next? Now they need their own yoga classes? So they can all be fat and lazy together and then go eat Cheetos after class? As a Plus Sized yoga chick and someone in recovery from an eating disorder (actually, I am a size 14–which makes me too fat for the skinny people and too skinny for the fat people HAHAHA as usual, joke’s on me!), I know there is a need for Plus Sized yoga everything. You need to know how to do adjustments, you need clothes that fit, you need an understanding teacher, you need props, you need to be able to RELATE. You need dialogue.
And I discovered via the miracle of Google search that people actually search for “Do Fat Vegans Exist?”. Why yes, they do, you ass clown. Oh wait, my SKINNY Italian Greyhound is actually typing this post. No wait, he’s sleeping and being lazy as usual and maintaining his size 0 figure.
I am realizing lately that the ongoing Putting The Ahimsa Oxygen Mask On Myself First Before Trying To Save Any Other Passengers Project is becoming more and more critical. As I continue with my healthy behaviors (eating plants, eating when I am hungry, not abusing food or myself, daily Ashtanga asana practice, walking, prayer, meditation, 12 step meetings, etc.), things progress at their own very slow and organic pace. I am moving toward a body size that is healthy for me and is, in all likelihood, definitely not a size 0. Or even 8. Hell, I’m not even sure if it’s a 12. My old eating disorder voices like to crop up and tell me I am disgusting and lazy and blah blah BLAH, I should be in the gym, I need to not eat carbs, I should be fasting, I need EPHEDRA. Stat.
Then there’s the other side of the coin—people looking at me funny and saying with this worried voice, “Boy, you sure have gotten skinny”. And it makes me feel guilty, like I should apologize for having lost 82 pounds! No, I am not obese anymore, nor do I think FOR ME that being obese is healthy. Maybe for other people it is OK for their frame and particular body, but for me it was living hell because my body couldn’t take the constant abuse. My knees, back, hips and ankles were in pain 24-7, my arches were collapsing and I couldn’t breathe. Walking 3 city blocks in New York made me feel like the Little Mermaid walking on knives when she suddenly grew legs. I was constantly exhausted and I was fucking miserable. My every waking thought centered around bingeing or purging, and I was full of shame and I was totally batshit crazy.
I still have back fat, dude. I am still overweight for my height, even if I am no longer technically morbidly obese. I don’t ever want to go back to being morbidly obese or even garden-variety obese, but I don’t want to Spanx myself into submission, either. I got more rolls than a Cuban bakery. And what is up with fucking Spanx anyway? Oh you naughty, naughty fat girl—you need a Spanxing! Let’s beat that fat into submission! It’s some sort of perverse clothing BDSM. Fuck that shit. I am not skinny by any stretch of the imagination and it’s OK. Being healthy, accepting myself on a day-to-day basis and making peace with the skin I’m in is a top priority for me more than ever. When I am in downward dog and I look down and see my stomach and thighs in their yoga pants, I really see them today. I am no longer hiding from myself in baggy clothes. I don’t turn away my gaze. Drishti has a whole different meaning when you are a plus sized yogi. My gaze guides my practice of acceptance.
Here’s a round-up of some posts about yoga, body image, plus-sized yoga, veganism and eating disorders that I found to be intriguing and juicy. Some I agree with, some I don’t. It’s all about dialogue:
Danielle Olson on wanting to be a skinny Yoga teacher and the danger of the Beauty Myth within Yoga:
Amber at Body Positive Yoga on why she quit dieting:
One more from Amber on modifications for Sun Salutations for plus sized bodies:
Kasey, also a blogger for This Dish Is Veg (and a Floridian, represent!) on fat vegans and the shitty new shaming PCRM ads:
Model Carre Otis on yoga, healing and body image:
Natala Constantine, Engine 2 Team Member and Inspirational Bad Ass, on being a still-fat vegan after losing 200 pounds:
Joshilyn Jackson: My Big Fat Hot Vinyasa Flow–An Open Letter to the Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City:
Becky Shiles of Open Book Blog on being told You’re Too Fat For Yoga:
You’re never “too old” for an eating disorder–yoga helps a 70-year-old woman to recover from bulimia:
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