Privilege and Good Intentions

By on Nov 12, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

It is really easy to see the worst in someone. It is much easier to see the worst in someone we don’t know, rather than in ourselves. Maybe this is why we offer each other so much advice. I read (or hear) the perspective of the folks who feel alienated by the American Yoga machine and I sympathize with their plight.  Yoga as it is presented in American culture can be super intimidating.  Whether it is the advanced asana that we see on instagram or the svelt, fair, perfectly manicured practitioner herself. The sheer abundance of pretty, white yoginis who can make some impression shapes can get overwhelming. I have never really been one of these ‘hey look at me!’ types, not as far as an abundance of photos and beauty product/lifestyle promotions go (snarky blogs and stand-up comedy antics are another story). I have some fear over becoming GOOPy Gwenyth and losing perspective on the...

Managing Pain (and other bossy ideas)

By on Oct 21, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

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Correct Method?

By on Aug 26, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

For anyone who hasn’t checked out Ashtanga Dispatch this week, here’s a repeat for you… Hey, you know what people like to argue about?  The different ways Ashtanga teachers progress students through asana. The world is full of opinions and blanket judgements on what is “correct method.” I figured I’d throw my rooster into the fight. I have read (and been told) that some old-guard teachers will allow their students to determine for themselves how far they should practice.  If students want new postures, they can do new postures. This is an extremely mature and generous technique. It takes for granted that students have enough sense to know when they should scale back the work they’re asking their body and mind to do (or at least that the practice will communicate it to them and they will be tuned in enough to listen). As a student with very little sense (and having met...

Is your Teacher more advanced than you?

By on Jul 31, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

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You know what I think, this is what I feeeeel.

By on Jul 15, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

I think sometimes I share my convictions without doing a great job of sharing how I got there.  I can explain to you why something about the practice is fair by the standards I’ve been given, but I don’t always include why I believe in it. I see that my belief can be off-putting.  Let me explain. I really want people to be happy and kind.  I am a firm believer in the phrase “you don’t have to be wrong for me to be right.” I love seeing people do whatever brings them happiness.  Doing my practice brings me so much happiness that it has taken over my life. This happiness is complex.  It’s not necessarily enjoyment, but rather a contentment that comes from a good effort. I have a really hard time knowing if I am doing a good job.  I have this constant, nagging fear that I could be putting more effort into everything, whether a posture or my life in general. I think this is likely...

Wild Speculation

By on Jul 12, 2015 in The Unruly Ascetic

Holy Lord Ganesha, the times are a changin’. Today someones noticed that the KPJAYI has posted a new requirement for practicing with Sharath:  You must have at least tried to study with someone who is in his lineage. Gasp. The horror.  So many people won’t be able to go now!  It’s the official policy that you can’t learn from youtube. How can he say that? That someone who tries each morning on their own, despite not having a teacher, is not ready to come to Mysore?!  So many prospective exotic Indian adventures thwarted. I am being sarcastic, in case that is lost in the reading. I have very little sympathy for the ‘home practitioner’ argument. I think this step is long overdue, for all the obvious reasons of mysore-yoga-tourism and the sheer number of people who want to come just to say they’ve come, but also for that home practitioner who doesn’t have a teacher. I will now commence...