Thursday, January 27, 2011

More Thoughts on Yoga

The yoga experience here has been so incredible this month. Nourishing for my body, mind, breath, and consciousness. It will be interesting to see how it all settles in and gradually seeps in... what sticks and what fades away.

You pretty much can't go wrong with 6-7 hours of yoga a day. By the end of the month you just start to feel so light and clear. It's very lovely. My injured hamstring is happily healing, and I am (gradually & cautiously) inching my way back toward some forward bending poses. I was saved by backbending week - which ended up being 8-9 days long. I'll tell you what - 4 hours of crazy intense non-stop full-throttle backbends is really good for me. Many people reported having trouble sleeping (backbends are notorious for that, especially when done in the evening), or feeling cranky... but I was sleeping like a rock and my smile was getting bigger every day. I think it's my kaphic nature, but the backbends feel just wonderful. And the skillful instruction helped me find new qualities of freedom and ease and lift and sensitivity and awareness in many of the poses which used to give me so much trouble. What an incredible honor and joy it is to have this chance to learn so much!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the classes we have can be quite different, depending on who is teaching. The classes with Mr Iyengar, and with the staff at the Institute are very detail-oriented. These teachers are very talented with their sequencing of postures... building you up by gradually introducing actions in straightforward postures, and then putting the various puzzle pieces together in more challenging poses. We are instructed with very specific language and subtle areas of the body: back four corners of the waist, tail of the tail bone vs. head of the tailbone, head of the shin bone, outer buttocks flesh, etc etc It's really exciting to build consciousness and awareness with more and more precision.

I have been reflecting on how & why these tiny "nit-picking" physical instructions can bring such depth and joy to my experience in my practice. I think it has something to do with realizing that there is still so much to discover in this body that I have lived in for 37 years, and in these poses that I have been doing for about 16 years now. Also, I think these discoveries make me feel closer to myself somehow... more aware of life's subtle distinctions... more discerning. Somehow, I think this practice helps me feel more awareness to discern what's really me and what's not really me... what aspects of my life experiences I want to keep and which I want to discard... I'm so grateful for the teachings and the practice!

In Prashant's classes, he is constantly challenging us to be more curious, more investigative, more insightful, more integrated. He cares more about the interplay and interdynamics of the body & mind & breath than about the poses themselves. It is a wonderful compliment to our other classes. He reminds us that the practice of yoga extends well beyond the physical, and encourages us to pursue those other aspects of yoga with the same details, precision and zeal with which we explore our poses. I LOVE IT.

And somehow, with these wonderful teachers here, this experience positively fills my heart with love for my teacher Kofi. How well he has prepared me, and my pal Jane, for this experience. The physical aspects - how he helped me transform myself from a tight, weak person with a lot of lower back pain into someone who can do 4 hours of backbends in one day and feel just fine. Not that there isn't still plenty of work to be done on Project Amey, but I am filled with gratitude to him for what he has already taught me and helped me to learn for myself. Then mentally, spiritually... how he has fostered in us these qualities of self-determination, patience, inquiry, discipline... Kofi has brought such a tidal surge of love and faith and understanding and awareness of everything I still don't understand into my life. I'm so grateful for him - the love & the tough love he gives us!

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