Paryankasana ho!

Lots of timed paryankasana this morning. On a block, as pictured in this link, and over the rack. No, not Ashtanga, but let me say this: Holy crap! That is some serious pose for a tight shouldered/upper backed gal like me.

There has been progress, certainly, because I can now breathe in backbends, and I actually like the way they feel. And for a fleeting moment this morning, I thought, “Backbends are no more alien to me than any other poses I’ve learned.” This is a huge step, because apparently I did have the notion that backbends were foreign to me, that they were not “natural.” Funny how we construct and integrate these sorts of beliefs.

And a quick note on meditating more and less deeply during different parts of the practice. In terms of automaticity (which can engender flow states), I find that primary lends itself to that kind of consciousness. It’s like the famous Dogen quote in my last post: “To know the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.” Intermediate poses, on the other hand, are a place where I don’t know my self. So the practice, in that case, is to meditate on the self until I can lose the self. I don’t feel impatient, truth be told, but I do have occasional glimpses of what it might be like, one day, to lose my self in backbends. And I look forward to it very much.


5 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great article! its just what I need!!

  2. I have to get one of those racks!! I’m pretty sure that paryankasana over a block might be what triggered my recent back problems…but those vertebrae *needed* to move, right? I crave the upper back & shoulder opening.

  3. Really interesting.

  4. I cut an article out of YJ a few years back that looks very like that one (I remember the guy doing the poses with the chair), but I can’t find it now, so I’m glad you linked to that.

    Do you consciously “meditate on the self” during practice?

  5. Oh, interesting question about meditating on the self. Yes and no. I came to Ashtanga from zen, so I think I’ve just transferred that to my practice: being conscious of the self doing its thing and letting those thoughts go, etc. When I say self, I don’t really mean “me” — though there are plenty of spots in practice where I confront that me (usually in tough spots, when I’m feeling greedy or disappointed or scared). But when I am really in the flow, the me I am experiencing seems like a broader concept — an unbounded me. Where the self is forgotten. Hard to explain. I guess the meditating on the self that I’m talking about is a kind of patient melting of the self (and movement really helps the melting). Once that’s gone, I’ll know the self.

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