I am excavating all of the saved drafts I have lingering. I have been writing, but not posting and not finishing a lot of what I write. So here’s one from August that I started after my first Mysore class at Yoga Yoga here in Austin:
Yes, it only took my seven months of waffling, but I finally attended the magical, mysterioso Mysore class. And it was fucking scary. I think the anxiety about what to expect was more scary than anything else—having no idea what the teacher would do or what would even be going on. I sat in my car for quite some time, sweating. Afraid to go in, but afraid to go home.
I loved the teacher—she was gentle and helpful. I felt (as per usual) like a graceless elephant surrounded by very twisty gazelles. The lack of noise in the room was simultaneously peaceful and terrifying. I found myself losing focus far more than I do during home practice. There’s also something odd about the teacher having to whisper instructions to you while everyone else around you is practicing. I am not sure that I like it!
One of the other brutal realities of my life here in Austin is the fact that my allergies are out. of. control. At certain times of the year, I should NOT be in a room with other people early in the morning because it is, quite frankly, a Kaphic phlegm fest. Ugh. Yet again, I am having to renegotiate what practice means and how it will look for me. The perfectionist in me does not like the idea of deviating from “traditional” early morning Mysore or self-practice. However, that rigidity is translating to NO practice. And that is not cool. Jury is still out on Mysore…
Oh buddy—jackpot. Just watching this made me hurt, but sort of in a good way. While my room is warming up, I decided to check youtube for any new Kino videos to inspire me to ACTUALLY FUCKING PRACTICE in my bedroom. I have been sulking and missing my yoga room in Las Vegas. Well, welcome to reality, Sunshine. There’s no yoga room anymore! Do I want to give up my Ashtanga practice simply because I am having bratitude (Bratty Attitude) about my smaller, pared down new life? I keep mentally whining that my room’s too small, it’s too cold, I can’t breathe, I’m too tired, blah blah blah. I haven’t even tried yet.
The take home message? I have been kind of a wreck without practice. I keep waiting for the Mysore sessions to resume at the studio close to my house and they seem to have entirely disappeared. And I’m broke anyway, so it’s not like I could immediately buy a pass. I keep reading all of the Ashtanga blogs I follow with sighs of longing…just do it already!
NOTE: It’s the end of 2012 and I just realized that I left this in drafts and never published it! Man, the move to Austin really scrambled my brains.
Something cool happened in November, month 8 of my burgeoning Ashtanga practice. I suddenly was able to hold myself up and hover over my mat in chaturanga. I have no idea how this happened. It was like my body suddenly realized that I could do it and it just did with no conscious thought involved. Hmmm…I hope this happens with jump backs and jump throughs! I am now doing what I think is a half primary—up through Navasana, although many postures are pretty adjusted and prop-involved. Whenever I find myself “guarding” or stiffening up and feeling fear in certain postures (hello, Trianga) I try to just go blank and relax. Lately, the phrase “hot taffy” keeps popping into my head in certain asanas. And then I start laughing, because it makes me think of John Waters and the character Taffy from the movie Female Trouble. So wrong. I love how certain words and phrases have become part of my practice. It’s all a very interesting process.
courtesy of texasescapes.com
I have been in Texas now for two weeks and it has been difficult, thrilling, sad, beautiful, nostalgic and awesome. The trip itself was very interesting, especially the part where I drove through West Texas. I’ve never been in that part of the state and at first I found the wide open spaces to be beautiful and peaceful. After about five hours of this, I started to feel this intense and bone-deep sense of fear and panic. There. Was. Nothing. Nothing but me, my very old truck with all of my earthly possessions, scrubby creosote-esque shrubs, blue sky and rocks. All I could think about was either serial killers or breaking down and someone eventually finding my bleached bones by the side of I-10. I was startled by how intense the fear and anxiety felt; my entire body was tense and actually broke out in a cold sweat for most of the drive, which ended up taking two days. I had to stop in Fort Stockton and sleep. My cell phone also apparently hated West Texas, as it freaked out and decided to erase all of my contacts and reload itself somewhere between El Paso and Fort Stockton. I ended up having to replace my phone completely as it never seemed to recover from West Texas. Of course, this means that I will absolutely have to take a road trip to West Texas in the near future just to explore this entire phenomenon.
My life in Austin is also thus far totally free of Ashtanga. Not happy about that last part. My new living arrangement does not have my luscious yoga room, and while the house is adorable and in South Austin and my new roommate is phenomenal…I barely have room to put down my yoga mat and I find myself in a big old sulk about it. Sulking and writing run-on sentences liberally peppered with ellipses…arrrgh! There are several Mysore programs available in Austin, but all of the studio schedules have been erratic due to the holidays. I also got sick right after I moved here and no breathing = no Ashtanga. After NYE, I will go investigate a studio that has an afternoon Mysore program that happens to be right by my house. I am very resistant to the afternoon practice thing after nine months of early AM practice, but my new schedule at work is much earlier than my old one. No contempt prior to investigation! The important thing is to just fucking practice already.
“In ancient times, bears were considered equal with men…”
Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I stumbled across the clip on youtube. As I watched it I realized, “wow, I used to way more than a bear!”. No wonder they are my totem animal! I’ve had the phrase “Ghost Body” pop into my head frequently during practice for the last two weeks. At first I was like, “WTF?”. Then i realized that sometimes I still think I am carrying around my former 320 pound body. I will think that I can’t fold forward in certain positions when I actually can. It’s as if there is a “Ghost Body” surrounding me and I can still “feel” her, like people who can feel an amputated limb. Interestingly, I never stayed in my starved, thinner body long enough to develop a skinny “ghost body”. She’s more like a whispering voice, a feeling, than a physical thing I lug around with me. When I am truly present in my current body and not divorced from it, I spend a lot of time trying to find the “edges”—how big am I, actually? Where do I stop and start? How far can I bend or reach? Where does my arm or leg go, really? Somewhat like moving to a new city and learning how to navigate the streets…you get lost a lot at first.
I also have begun to notice how much I “guard” certain areas of my body during practice. I clocked this after a conversation with my sponsor about how emotionally guarded I still am with certain people and at certain times. I find in Ashtanga that I seriously guard my left elbow (broken when I was skateboarding and drunk and 25), my right hip (could write a novel about this), my knees, my left ankle (surgery), my right hand (two surgeries). There’s a geographic area of my body that I feel like I need to protect, to keep it from further pain and trauma. But my guarding and vigilance is actually preventing the healing from happening! I realized this today during Ardha Baddha and burst into tears on my mat, which is happening again frequently. I felt a bizarre wash of warmth down my injured right side…so strange. And now my hip is feeling much better, go figure. Maybe my inner Samurai needs to find a new occupation instead of guarding my injuries. I have been throwing around the idea of learning Kendo lately…
I am trying notice my Ghost Body and just acknowledge her without fighting her. I carry her with me, and I don’t have to hate her. I am still a “fat” Ashtangi, and I will probably never be a skinny, bendy yoga chick–I honestly don’t give a sh$t anymore. My weight is no longer my business, and I have no idea where this practice will take me physically. I’ve spent so many years trying to artificially manipulate my body and my consciousness that I have no idea who I am or what the f*ck a “healthy me” looks or feels like physically. I have a sneaking suspicion that through dedication to this practice (practicing these principles in all my affairs for you 12 steppers out there), I will eventually regard my current body as yet another “Ghost Body”—with kindness and compassion. Everything changes. Bring it, Universe! I am f*cking stoked for transformation.
My ongoing obsession with both my screwed-up hips and anything Kino has to teach me from afar knows no bounds! Hey, that skeleton is more flexible than I am! And it’s DEAD!
The Ashtanga Report…like the Colbert Report, only not as funny and apolitical and without ironic eagle screams. Maybe that would jazz my blog up, eagle screams…
October was a weird month. I am working on Mari A, B and C and I was having a LOT of frustration and pain at the end of the month. I really appreciated all of the helpful feedback and comments I’ve gotten on this blog, especially after my “Dark Entry” at the end of October. I am always so amazed and grateful that anyone takes the time to read this mess! I also got sick at the end of the month which derailed me a little bit. In any case, I’ve realized that I do not function well without Ashtanga. I need it. It makes me a much nicer human being, period. Even when I am cranky and sore and experiencing crazy talk from my ego, I need to be on my mat. I have to embrace the dark parts of practice just like I embrace the dark parts of myself. The more I focus on breath and bandhas, the less jibber jabber goes on between my ears and that is a wonderful thing indeed.