Physical Reality

This morning I was dogged by physical reality. I woke up feeling kinda crummy–puffy eyes, stuffy head, general sluggishness. Could I be sick? Should I have a day off? Nah! It’s harder, psychologically, to take a day off than to go to practice. And if I skip practice, I feel kind of creaky all day–like I don’t have enough space in my joints. So I went.

Quiet when I got to Volleyball Guy’s house. Just Returning Guy and The Other Dave. And the space heater. Mmmmmm. I start in on my suryas and notice something interesting. Both of my nostrils are stuffed up. Huh, I wonder why I didn’t notice that on the drive over… I wonder how I managed to breathe… Oh well. Nothing a little forceful ujjayi breathing won’t solve, right? It didn’t sound pretty, but Returning Guy and The Other Dave are loud, so my labored breathing was drowned out.

Okay, that problem solved. On to the next. I don’t know about everyone else, but at some point in almost every practice (usually in the marichys), I find myself recalling what I had for dinner the night before. This morning I was remembering during surya Bs. Not a good sign. Spicy tofu. What was I thinking? I manage to be disciplined and focused on any number of things, but for some reason, the simple practice of not eating spicy food the night before Mysore always eludes me. Zen monks, in their precepts, swear off onions, garlic and other spices. I always kind of wondered why that’d be included in their precepts, and I figured maybe it was so they wouldn’t have bad breath in the zendo. Now, though, I think it’s because practicing (Ashtanga or zazen) on a busy stomach is really distracting.

As I am reconciling myself to my stuffy nose and yucky stomach, more folks arrive. Sanskrit Scholar, The British Director, and Surfer Girl, a very sweet, very tall advanced practitioner. And Mona, who sets up between me and Surfer Girl.

Mona moans. Oh boy. I think this is my shala pet peeve. If the moaning is conscious, it’s kind of a weird attention-getting device. If it’s unconcious…well, isn’t that rather odd? Don’t get me wrong–I’m unconscious during practice as much as the next person. But I come around every so often and I’m sure I’d notice if I was moaning all the time.

So Mona moans, and she does not recognize that Surfer Girl or I exist. Her practice is not adjusted according to those around her. She smacks me a couple of times, smacks Volleyball Guy when he’s adjusting me, and I hear Surfer Girl apologizing a couple of times, no doubt because Mona has smacked her, too. Okay, as I’m typing this, I’m laughing, but I was kinda irritated at the time.

You know when someone’s doing seated poses behind you and it’s time for your prasaritas? Don’t you adjust yourself up or down your mat so that when you fold, you won’t be breathing (or moaning, as the case may be) directly onto the person doing seated poses? Just a thought.

I suppose it’s evident that practice this morning was about physical reality. Nothing in the way of transcendence for me. No idea what the lesson may be in this. Just the facts, ma’am.

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5 Responses

  1. “Quiet when I got to Volleyball Guy’s house…”

    You practice in his house or a studio?

    “Zen monks…swear off onions, garlic”

    So do SKPJ and Sharath. I think it’s in his Yoga mala book. I heard it’s a Brahman thing: No garlic.

  2. yes, we have a smacker in our shala as well. i try to avoid this person if i can. then i don’t have to be concerned with walking out of practice with a black eye (or an irritated disposition, which tends to be the case when i practice next to said person :-)).

  3. In Ayuerveda, onions and garlic are a rajastic foods. That means that they cause motion, swirling thoughts, anger, excitability, and also arouse sexual desires. It interferes with the spiritual quest, that’s why monks and other spiritual Sadhus swear off the stuff.

  4. “It’s harder, psychologically, to take a day off than to go to practice. And if I skip practice, I feel kind of creaky all day–like I don’t have enough space in my joints.”

    Sooo true. There are weeks when each and every day, Mon to Fri, I struggle with my mind to practise, convincing myself that I’ll feel better afterwards than if I didn’t practise. And many days I start swearing “Just a couple of suryas” and end up doing entire Primary.

    This is a great book on Indian cuisine, very thorough, covering all aspects. No garlic or onion – all the recipes are yoga/ayurveda-friendly 😉

  5. Yes, Sammy, we go to Volleyball Guy’s house for Mysore. His led class on Saturday is at the studio.

    Rachel, I’m happy someone else gets irritated by smackers! LOL!

    Susan, Thanks for the onions and garlic info. But I’m half Italian! Onions I can do without, but garlic?!

    Sergio, Thanks for the book recommendation! I’ll check it out. And yes, if I spend time thinking about whether I want to practice, it takes alot more energy than just hopping on the mat and beginning the suryas…

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