Can we even talk about yoga? That seems to be a question that’s going around. I wonder about it often. Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent.

Yes.

But. Maybe some of what we cannot speak actually resides in the cracks of what yogis write, interstitial, oblique. Kind of like catching a glimpse of something in the rearview mirror. Like when you go here, or here, or here.

Sure, we can talk about the pure mechanics, which is certainly potentially helpful to other practitioners, but what about the ineffable? Cody wrote a cool entry about presentations of the self via blogging yesterday, and Carl made a comment I keep thinking about:

Sometimes it’s better to consider blogging as the same sort of expression as a baby’s screams. A baby screams because its world suddenly halts upon something its mind can’t wholly process. To go on, it has to find a way to regurgitate it all so someone else can see what’s going on. Adults are usually mature enough to not scream but there is still a need to plop everything on the table so others can see what’s there.

I think his observation is hilarious and embarrassing and probably right on. Does blogging help or hinder practice? Hard to say. Maybe it doesn’t affect it at all. I recall reading that people often ditch their blogs once they are well into second series, but I don’t know if that has to do with the Ashtanga practice or if most bloggers knock off around year 2 or 3.

***

Re: speaking up or lurking on ezBoard

Some interesting discussion about this topic as well. There was a big cranky thread that ran for a while, probably started by a troll, and it got the board going pretty good. Now that it’s winding down, there are questions about why people spoke up, why people didn’t speak up, etc.

I had rather a lot to say on the thread, because I got sucked into it. I don’t feel bad one way or another. Some threads get me going and I respond, and some get me going and I don’t. It does feed into a project I’ve been practicing at work, though, which I think of as “judicious not-speaking.”

I work at an organization that has millions of meetings and is very democratic, so everyone is always voicing their opinion. On the one hand, that makes for a nice environment, on the other, it can be tedious. I think we’re in a habit of everyone feeling compelled to speak up, as if speaking up is the only possible mode of participation. So I’ve been sitting back and figuring out what I can not say in meetings. And counting that as a contribution. Generally speaking, we tend to generate too many discussions about details and what-ifs, and then there’s discussion about solutions for things that might never happen, etc. And everyone wants to say something to prove they’re valuable. I think it may be time to start subtracting discussion points. Not sure how this experiment will turn out, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s exhausting to always be trying to think up something to say. And probably not even remotely productive.

***

Practice was hard today. Actually, scratch that. It was fine. I’m getting deeper into everything and that makes for a more intense physical experience.

As ever, the drama starts at ustrasana. Stomach ache? Check. Fear? Ready. Volleyball Guy came over at laghu vajrasana and said, “Good,” when I finished it. And then he added, “Do it two more times.” Whaaa! I used to work at bookstores in Boston and I remember one of my coworkers commenting on the fact that customers would ask for a book that was displayed right in front of them. She said she thought customers went blind when they came in, because their senses were overwhelmed with the volume of books before them. I was totally blind in the laghu vajrasana/kapotasana portion of practice. Definitely did not have my wits about me. At which point, I realized that that is why Volleyball Guy is my teacher: so he can guide me across the street and keep me from getting hit by a car. All I was thinking about was my barfiness level and the fact that I couldn’t get my breathing calmed down.

After each pose, he waits. Like an umpire brushing off the plate to be polite to the catcher. A gesture, but really just enough time to brush off the plate. Then it’s time to move along. I realized that my barfiness was not going to subside, and my breathing was not going to really get much better, so off I launched into the next pose. Same thing with the next. And off we went into dropbacks. I had to abandon any hope of doing the poses with my wits gathered and stomach settled, so I just threw myself into it. What’s the greeting at the gates of Dante’s Inferno? Abandon all hope, you who enter here? Yeah, that’s it. Need such a gate at the start of ustrasana/laghu v/kapotasana. 😉

Urdhva dhanurasana felt quite nice, and Volleyball Guy did the assist where he stands at my head and uses a strap to pull up tight under my shoulders to straighten my arms. I feel where the issue is: left shoulder, and right chest. It is a breakthrough for me to be able to pinpoint where the tightness is. And then I kind of realized that when I give in more to being taught, I can let Volleyball Guy be the superego of the pose, and I can just feel around blindly to try to fathom what’s going on in me.

I think I’ve known this before in glimpses, but I saw it again today.

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9 Responses

  1. well, in retrospect, i think the two of us have blood on our hands, although i think that we were both knowingly playing with the troll, so we’re left without any regrets. it was my joke about football & beer that led to your witty retort about ufc that turned the thread into the bhogha festival that seemed to push poor bill over the edge.

    thanks for the conversation yesterday – a lot of viveka in the topics of blogging and ezboard.

  2. Yes, I felt bad about playing with the troll, because it’s cruel. On the other hand, he said he thought it was important to try to force people’s minds open, so I guess it all makes a kind of sense. There seems to be lots of remorse about the thread, but if you look back, many posters tried many different methods to prod him to consider a new perspective. For someone who was pretty abrasive, people devoted a good bit of time trying to bring him around. It wasn’t perfect, but people were trying to do their best.
    You had the most-fun-to-hang-around-at blog yesterday, for sure!

  3. Wittgenstein! 🙂 Ok, I have to say hi now.

    Maybe we were tormenting the troll a little bit, but I think there were also decent intentions in play. Ease up, man; see it another way; try some practice– all those sentiments were in there, even as it became heated, and I don’t cringe at them too much.

    Anyway, there’s clearly something wrong with me in that I didn’t start blogging until I was into third series. I think that before this, I felt that my practice was very personal, individual. But eventually I just eased up and took the view that my practice/body is one more instatiation of the big AYRI “research” experiment–and not something to keep private. To counter this feeling, though, my teacher Dominic gave me a long talk this morning about how, for all his experience, he can’t know exactly what I’m going through with a present back injury. “All I can do is offer my own experience,” he said. But I like that. And I like feeling that others are out there every morning, working out their own experiences too. For whatever ever reason, it is good to sense that connection.

  4. “my practice/body is one more instatiation of the big AYRI ‘research’ experiment”
    I love it! I like to think of myself as a (seemingly) individuated manifestation of the universe, and now I can think of Ashtanga as a huge hologram and me (and all other practitioners) as a teeny portion/form that contains all the information of the whole!

    My teacher offers his experience and his help, but even as he’s there 100% for me, I am also clear that I am 100% on my own with the experience. It’s a lovely deal, really, to have a teacher with devotion to a student’s finding their own way, with no agenda. It’s a kind of unconditional love, I suppose.

    And yes, the connection between practitioners is profound. A woman came to practice with us today. She lives in Hawaii, and I was happy to get a chance to talk to her as we were leaving. I wanted to know where she practiced, what her shala is like, how many people go there, etc.? I was surprised at my own friendliness and curiosity: generally speaking I’m quite introverted. But there was an immediate sense of connection. I guess I recognized her from the holographic universe.

  5. Hi Karen
    Most bloggers sign off after 2 or 3 years? Interesting. I don’t know if there is a connection between the level they are at in their practice and the lenght of their blogging time. There may be financial constrainst I know nothing about. We blog and blog and it may be free. For now. At some point, we may have to pay for the priviledge of blogging, if we’re exceeding capacity in a server somewhere. Do you have an insight on that? I see that bloggers who post a lot of pictures put ads. The ads must help pay for the blog because at that point the blog must not be free. I have no idea, these are just my inferences.

    I don’t know where I’m going with my blogging. Forming an online community I suppose. Who is this YogiBill poster? I didn’t catch that. I did think the Cheri character was super weird. Why don’t people just blog about their experience with yoga, rather than trying to be cute? Blogging is in any case a recent phenomenon.

  6. I don’t think any of you tormented the troll. He kept coming back relentlessly after numerous people tried to enage him. Nothing worked.

    Nor do I think that you are, at all, the “needy baby wants attention” type of blogger. Far from it! You’re always thoughtful, calm, intelligent, and kind. And also witty and fun.

    By the way, I will be back in Scottsdale in August. I know, only a dingbat (word from EZboard) would visit AZ in August, but it is my father’s 87th birthday. Will you be around, DZM?

  7. Yes, I’ll be around in August. Will you come practice with us? 🙂

  8. Definitely!

  9. Great. Let me know a little ahead of time and perhaps we can put together a post-Saturday-led coffee/chai event or lunch or something!

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