All tingly

Just re-reading a little of Matthew Sweeney’s book, and came across this:

From the ideal individual and therapeutic approach to yoga that Krisnamacharya advocated, modern Astanga can be overly regulated. The linear goal oriented nature of the practice often leads to an increased focus on achievement: who has a “better” practice or what is the correct practice. Conversely, not enough focus on the boundaries and tradition can also be a problem. The competitiveness that often arises is simply a stage, not one necessarily to be avoided; just something to pass through as you become more centred. The fiery nature of the practice also heightens awareness; the feeling is of moving forward. Eventually, however, there are only two possibilities: soften or bust. You either give up (or your body does) or you learn to relax into the reality of what is: self acceptance. The only correct practice is that which is, traditional practice or otherwise. You have the freedom to choose what is appropriate and you bear responsibility for that choice. It is your teacher’s responsibility to direct you away from the path of least resistance towards the path of maximum benefit. Try to balance both of these inclinations.

That’s some good stuff. All about balance. I particularly like that line about the teacher’s responsibility being to steer one away from the path of least resistance.

And I was heartened to hear the competitiveness addressed as a phase. I am driven and competitive by nature, though quite honestly, I seem to be really getting past that lately. Not just in yoga, but in general. I can feel a surge of competitiveness and then be able to see it for what it is and just put it down. That’s something new: before, I could see it for what it was, but try as I might, I couldn’t let go of the feeling.

The part about the practitioner bearing responsibility for his or her choices is also very interesting. It reminds me of last night, when I had all these tingly, nervy feelings in my right arm and hand and foot.

I’ve had migraines and their associated strange neurological effects for years. My Gift has it, too — it runs in the family. Everyone gets a CAT scan when they have their first migraine, to make sure there’s no tumor or anything like that, and then we go about our business with occasional weirdo effects: “holes” in your vision, or loss of peripheral vision, or this strange feeling that your left hand isn’t really “yours.” Usual migraine stuff.

I’ve had fewer and fewer migraines as I’ve gotten older, so last night’s tingly thing took me a little by suprise. I quickly thought back to see if I’d been eating lots of migraine trigger foods lately, and then suddenly zeroed in on the most likely culprit: backbends! I definitely remember KJS posting about nerve stuff with backbends, and I have to go back and look for that. I’ll also look around on ezBoard.

I was brought up to over-react to physical symptoms. So of course, being the stubborn and difficult person that I am, I tend to under-react. I do, though, like to look up info on other people who’ve had similar experiences (Oliver Sacks’s book, Migraine, rocks, BTW — for anyone curious about the neurological effects of migraines). There’s always a little voice inside me, though (which sounds suspiciously like my Mom’s voice), telling me to go to the emergency room whenever ANYTHING happens. Papercuts or work stress included. It also says that backbends are inherently unsafe. Forward bends are fine, and even arm balances, though it doesn’t understand why I would take the risk of crashing out of one.

Interesting to become conscious of these belief systems. There’s definitely something loosening up in my back and there is definitely something in me that screams to keep things status quo, to avoid changing anything that is me. This is exactly where the physical meets the conceptual. What a trip. I guess this is yoga.


3 Responses

  1. That was really interesting – thank you.

  2. That last paragraph — and what you said on my blog — really resonate with me. I don’t feel like I’ve bought into the “aging” belief system, but maybe I’ve bought into the “stiff back” belief system? Food for thought…

  3. I found the first backbends of Intermediate to be quite distressing. Suddenly there was this massive fear that I was kind of constantly living with, and it wasn’t fun. A lot of deeply hidden fears came out and I had to (sort of) confront them. Not that I’m totally over them, mind you, but at least they came out in the open which I think is a bit healthier, psychologically.

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