A word on practice:

By on Mar 17, 2011 in The Unruly Ascetic, Uncategorized

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Are you injured? Physically? (I mean, we are here, in the illusion, right?  We all must be somewhat karmically injured)
But I mean, in the normal, “ow, that hurts” sense. 
Well, I am.  All over. Seems like something new every day.  And I am now a firm believer that this is good. I am no masochist. I am not about to seek out an injury.
but finally, I have felt the benefit of pain.

As a teacher (okay, okay, I’ll stop trying to deny it, I am a teacher.  I am just also a student), I have been able to see value in pain.  It makes me more able to relate to students when they struggle or are in pain.  It inspires me to learn anatomy and more about how the body works.  This I already knew.

But as a student, pain is one way of knowing.  With every pose, be it as simple as padangusthasana, there are many ways to do it.  Not many variations (as an Ashtangi, there is only ever one way ;), but many different ways you can apply awareness, pressure, muscular contraction, bandhas (you name it) and still have the external expression of the pose be more or less the same.  It can be hard to know how to chose which one is “right.”  You can ask your teacher and he or she can describe to you how it feels.  And you can figure out how to do it correctly.  But you can do it correctly for years and not know that you are truly hitting the nail on the head.  When there is pain, you can know.  One way hurts, the next ways hurts a lot, and the last way (often the hardest) doesn’t hurt at all.

It was through this pain gauge that I stumbled upon a little something they call mula bandha.  Now, I am no Ashtanga novice (sure I am, but I have been trying to understand MB and, I thought, I have been making reasonable progress over the last 2 years) but I was never before able to feel how it can integrate the body.  Not just applying pressure and bringing stability, but connecting everything from the heels through the length of the spine.  Having stumbled upon this technique in an attempt to avoid pain, I did not immediately recognize it for what it was.  But after taking Kino’s workshop on forward bending, and Tim’s on Hips and Standing poses, I realized they are only ever talking about ONE thing. Mula Bandha.  It all comes down to MB.

Now, after 2 and a half months of reminding myself that practice is important and valuable, I finally want to get on my mat in the morning.  Not because I adore Sharath and want to see him.  Not because I have been assisting for 2 hours and want to shake it out. Basically, not because the teachers I love tell me to,  but because I want to do the practice.  I want to feel it what it feels like to do it right.  Again. And again.


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