This week we tried to twist, bind, open our hips and open our mind (by reading the first book of Patanjali). My brain is unlikely to recover. All my adult life I have worked to expand my mind, to use the art of reasoning, to imagine things…so much so that I studied architecture and philosophy as long as I could. Wrote a dissertation about dwelling in the world. And here I am trying to restrain my mind in order to dwell in the world! What! Mind blown……
The two sutras so far that have me twisted and bound are numbers 2 and 17. Yes…I was stuck at number two…after the very first sentence….”Now yoga instruction.”
2: “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.”
17: “Samprajnata samadhi (distinguishing discerning) is accompanied by reasoning, reflecting, rejoicing and pure I-am-ness.
Instead of taking over the world we are trying to notice ourselves in the world. See ourselves as a perspective and not the perspective. Avoid the mouse brain delusion and disappointment.
Book Patanjali Book One tells us why we practice yoga….to restrain the brain. These sutras present yoga as a combination of mental restraint and mindful reasoning, reflecting, rejoicing and recognizing the “I” that appeals to the universal. The self is both restrained and empowered by encouraging selfless and limiting selfish acts. Thinking should help us be kind, not right or worse righteous. Non-judgmental thinking is an incredible challenge. It is so easy to put things in boxes of right,wrong, good or bad. I don’t know if we can ever see our intentions clearly. Yoga, if anything is a working evolving practice of seeing ourselves in the world.
We were also introduced to a kundalini practice and a short Ashtanga practice. The rhythm and use of breath were unique in each. All these diverse styles of yoga show how widely the connecting practice is interpreted. We started learning about all the considerations of balancing, building up, slowing down, safety, creativity, modifications and more in sequencing poses. Our homework involved observing a yoga class. While it was difficult for me to watch a class and not participate, the process was helpful in noticing a class from a teacher perspective. The small details of class managment…music, delivering a prop, responding the rising stress in the room etc. We have two more observations to complete. Next time I’d like to focus on how students receive the cues.
For next week, we (the 8 of us) are collectively teaching a class to ourselves and our homework is to individually design a whole session. I feel eager, ready and apprehensive. It seems like we’ve been learning to spell words are now expected to form sentences that make sense. I suppose stuttering is better than babbling.
At this two month mark, I feel more porous….like a sponge, stretched, twisted, squished, soaked and drained. I am quick to notice the few aches and pains that pop up. I find I notice and enjoy what I eat more. When I feel stress rising in me, I try to remove myself sooner than I would have before. I notice when I feel a negative emotional charge or a hook, conversely, I also notice the positive charges. I still struggle in meditation, in quieting the mind, allowing my mind to roam as it pleases. For now.
I am so thankful for my gentle and patient guides, Jacqueline and Betsy and my seven curious and kind companions in this journey.
Wishing all of you easy breathing,