Back to regular class schedule and back at the institute. The practice and class are sinking deeply in and it is hard for me to express all of that in writing…it will seep back out as I get back to teaching and practice at home.
Prashant has been continuing his thread of “literacy” and “education” through yoga. We must not just “do and do and do and die”, but look and study deeply our own Self. He told the story of a person he met that kept a whole set of Encyclopedia Brittanica displayed on fancy shelves in his living room. Seeming as if these were something this man cherished so much to display, he picked one up off the shelf and it had never even been touched, let alone read or studied…he had “collected” the books, but had not ever read them. This is the way we practice asanas most of the time. We see that there are so many asanas, we may even take one step to know that they are good for this or that, but mostly we keep collecting the poses without ever opening them up and fully reading or studying them within our embodiment.
Tuesday he talked a lot about “reading” with the mind, body, and breath. Each of those being able to be read, be the reader, and be written. Can we discover what can be “read” by the breath? “Written” by the breath? What does the breath read within us? And so with the body and the mind…
He also is reminding us that yoga not “incidental”, something we just do on a mat…it is LIFE! Did Krishna lay down a mat for Arjuna to do some asanas on in the Bhagavad Gita?? Of course not…he had to do hist duty, stand up and fight! We also need to look at yoga as a connection to life and all its aspects. Body, mind, ad breath are with us all the time…yoga should be with us all the time.
Wednesday morning with Geeta brought on the magic of yoga. It is backbend week and so, I knew it was going to be a powerful class, but this is where I am even surprised at the power that yoga (and Geeta herself) wields. The amount that we are able to do within 2 hours without losing steam or concentration is unworldly. In the midst of my 5th or 6th Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana I was suddenly surprised at how effortless it was and how I was not sweating (even in this heat). She was making the point that if we touch the Pranamaya Kosha (the level of being in contact with breath and Prana) that we will not fatigue…we will have endless energy and the breath will not be hindered. If our backbends are only done at the anatomical or physical level, then fatigue comes, the body is heavy, and we will not have stamina.
She also discussed the idea of actual “balance” of the being. If we only balance at the physical level or even the mental level, then any one small change can throw us off. Perfect balance in an asana (or life for that matter) is at every level, from the inside out, not the outside in. No matter where you are – inside, outside, near a wall or away from a wall, etc… – we have to begin to find the same pose with the same result. She reminded us that Guruji often did amazing balance poses on the edge of cliffs or the top of walls where one false move might send him over the edge…without fear and without consideration of any external change, he was able to achieve any position….that is not pure physicality…it is knowledge and control and connection with self.
So at the end of class, instead of feeling spent and wrung out, I walked away with freedom and amazement. These are the moments that even now surprise me about yoga. I am a skeptic, most of you know me as not exactly “woo woo”, but these are the experiences that keep me fascinated and connected to yoga…energy that comes from nowhere, ability that goes beyond my physical limitations and mental concerns, Geeta’s spirit that is above and beyond and apart from her frail and sickened body.
As she reminded us today…don’t do Bhogasana, merely for physical enjoyment or benefit, for this pain or that pain, or even just to “feel good”. Do Yogasana…the practice meant to join us, yolk us, to our most inner being, spirit, soul, and energy. THAT is where the true magic is.