Web conference, Dog eyes, Santosha

Global webconference this morning, meaning up even earlier than usual (4 AM) to get set up and the call started by 4:45. Yawn. We go through ’til 6:30, so no Mysore practice. I’m going to type up a few notes now, and then do practice here. I don’t mind the home practice. I can go easy and baby the new tattoo. It’s small, just one word on the back of my neck: santosha. My favorite niyama. LOL! I wonder if it’s tacky to have a favorite niyama. Hey, maybe that should be the sort of thing one uses as a pickup line: So, what’s your favorite niyama? 😉

I’m feeling a little tired this week. I need to just work it through, of course. I’m assuming that this is just normal exercise science: the principle of progressive resistance results in increased strength and endurance. Alrighty, then.

Last night, my sister wanted to take my parents out for dinner for their upcoming anniversary. So The Cop, My Gift and I met up with them over on my parents’ side of town. My sister’s girlfriend suddenly said, “Karen, I need some yoga advice.”

“Okay,” I said hesitantly.

“I have a yoga tape that I use. How long am I supposed to stay in each position? Am I supposed to get into the positions fast, or slow?”

“Um, what do they do on the tape?”

She didn’t want to talk about what they do on the tape. She wanted me to say how long to stay in yoga poses and whether to get into the poses quickly or slowly.

“Well, it’s different for everyone, really. Try it a few times and see how it feels. See what your body tells you.”

“I can’t do it if I don’t know what to do, and I can’t feel what it feels like if I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like!”

“If you just try it a few times, you’ll start to find out…”

“How can I find the answer when I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing?!”

I kind of shifted my attention a bit, as The Cop and My Gift were both starting tentative alternate conversations to try to get me out of the jam they could see that I was in. My sister’s girlfriend started telling my sister about how she couldn’t know what to do until someone told her what to do, etc. She was very unhappy and frustrated with my answer. I’m not good in situations like this, because I don’t know how to respond when someone is intent upon getting something I can’t give them. When things like this happen, I need to start acting like the dog, who looks at me with great compassion when she doesn’t understand what it is that I want of her: I will make big dog eyes and turn my head to the side, indicating that I WISH I could make the human happy, but, being a dog, I have my limitations.

I suppose I could have just said, “Five breaths, and get into the poses as fast as you can.” In the end, perhaps that is the same as, “well, yoga is really a self-exploration,” or even the same as big dog eyes.



10 Responses

  1. Excellent ink. Very nice.

  2. Thanks. Back of the neck is a great place for tattoos. Doesn’t hurt at all!

  3. I like your tattoo. I see your dilemma in that conversation, sometimes it is difficult to convey to others that they really have to take responsibility for their own practice….a message many don’t want to hear.

  4. I think that was a weird question if she’s working with a tape. Don’t they tell her when to go into the next posture? Good for you for not giving some dogmatic answer.

    Love the tattoo!

  5. Thanks! Yes, it is a very weird question when working with a tape, and I asked the same thing: doesn’t the tape tell you when to go on? She didn’t want to talk about that, though. I kind of suspect she may feel that the tape is either too fast or too slow — and she wanted me to “prove” it by offering an opinion.

  6. I have a thing against watching yoga videos. Related to discomfort about objectification (I love that you brought that up after we discussed the Turkle book, which is different, but made me think of objectification), and to not being a visual learner anyway. But, accidentally saw Swenson’s intro and it’s so great. He’s such a nerd, which is awesome. Maybe the GF is weird… and maybe she’s stuck with a really bad video. Probably both, yet maybe a little good video teaching (Swenson) would ease her though….?

    I really like it when people get tattoos.

  7. I love watching Richard Freeman. And I have the 3rd and 4th series DVD with the big names, which is a trip to watch. It’s helpful to conceptualize the very possibility of the poses. Plus I am absolutely a visual learner. How do you learn, (0v0)?

    The GF is definitely weird. Well, I guess she’s just stuck in a very black-and-white reality. I don’t know what video she has (that’s not what she wanted to discuss) but I’m sure it isn’t Ashtanga. Something much more mild, because she believes she can’t do very much.

    The kind of fun thing now is that my extended family conflates zen and yoga. They think it’s the same thing, as if monks with sticks roam the shala. I really love that they think that.

    Why do you like when people get tattoos? That’s an amusing statement.

  8. Volleyball Guy doesn’t have a stick? When they Certify someone, they get a stick. That’s what it means to be Certified.

    I think I’m really responsive to spoken language, music, tone of voice, and secondarily to written words. Really poor kinesthetic intelligence (yet great mapskills/navigation), thus all the dynamic poses in astanga mystify me. I think that possibly the reason that I so easily go semi-hypnotic/meditational in class is that the kinesthetic stuff demands all of my consciousness, leaving nothing for analytical-mind. Also, I might be seduced by the new “intelligence” it’s teaching me.

    I love the self-expression of getting inked, particulary when it’s someone over 25 doing it alone–not with sorority sisters. I love the way it brings past-present-future selves into conversation. And I love that it slightly upsets corporate decorum–not that you’ll be wearing your hear in a bun to conferences, but I hope you do so now and again.

  9. Actually, I’ve been encouraged to wear my hair up around the office. I think it’s because I have really wild hair, which freaks people out a bit. The tattoo may make my boss think twice about whether controlling the hair is worth revealing the ink.

    The tattooist politely asked if I’d been tattooed before. Yes, I told him, I have a couple. From, uh, 32 years ago. I guess I could have said, “Sonny, I’ve been getting tattooed since before you were born.”

    Oh God, sound. I can’t make sense out of spoken words at all. Chanting is torture for me, because no matter how many times I hear something, it’s always like the first time. There’s a cool book called _Going Beyond Buddha: The Awakening Practice of Listening _ by one of the Kwan Um monks (Dae Gak). Essentially a practice using mindfulness of listening the way we usually use mindfulness of breath.

    The kinesthetic thing is just so much fun. Pure joy. I’m not a natural, but I have boundless enthusiasm. To trust something other than mind. Whew! What a relief!

    A stick for Volleyball Guy. What a great idea! Perhaps as a shala-warming gift.

  10. It is joy–isn’t it? My love reminded me that my practice hasn’t always been “research” (as it is these days due to injury, and the fact that I have taken it as an invitation to wrestle with an old demon): it can also just be touching god. Call it praise/ bhakti/ flow / whatever: sounds like kinesthesia to me!

    To life,


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