Very strange practice. Very blissful physically and mentally, during the practice; very difficult, mentally, both before and after. Maybe I am just tired from almost three weeks of travelling. I’ve been cranky in my mind for the past few days, just out of sorts. Didn’t want to go back to work, easily irritated once there.

Got up this morning and felt very heavy and irritable in my mind. Did a lot of distraction web-surfing, then cleaned the guest bathroom (did I mention the house needs cleaning after three weeks of travelling?). Finally unpacked the space heater from last year and lured myself to the mat with the promise of a nice warm spot in the yoga room.

Did standing and the second half of primary. Repeated the transitions out of bhujapidasana and supta kurmasana a few times. Made note of how good it all felt (though the transitions still suck). I can transition from bakasana to chaturanga — it’s the sucking the knees into the armpits part that is baffling me. Anyhow.

Spent a looooong time in baddha konasana, which felt really grounding. Worked my way through to urdhva dhanurasana, which is feeling rather good these days. Then just knocked off. I was over it. My mind was back in “begin the work day” mode.

But first I just lay on the mat and breathed. It felt great. Also reminded me that I don’t spend nearly enough time just breathing and enjoying it. Definitely too wound up these days. Not sure why.

So then I walk away from the mat kind of berating myself for not doing more, for not doing a full practice, for not doing more backbends. Argh! Why must I torment myself? I think this may be something I need to resolve: I get attached to a fundamentalist mindset (do the practice, do it exactly as outlined, never diverge, berate self if disinclined to follow every rule). Gah.

I know there is a graceful thread of bliss through yoga. Perhaps the equivalent of flexibility. There is also a disciplined thread of focus. Perhaps the equivalent of strength. Sthira and sukha, anyone? I have always more easily come down on the side of discipline and strength. (“Soften, soften,” CL said, leaving me at a loss.) Okay, so I know how to pursue the discipline. Through persistent “suck it up and do it” practice. How to pursue the softness?

I remember transitioning from Anusara/Iyengar yoga to Ashtanga. I was “stuck,” it felt, in the stillness of the poses, and needed more motion.

How, though, do I now cultivate more soft, graceful flexibility? Particularly when I am still trying to build strength…

New koan, I guess.


4 Responses

  1. I am a rule-following person, too. I was told by a teacher a few months after I started practicing that I needed to work on grace. I was trying to power through everything back then; of course, it was hard at first, so grace just wasn’t happening.

    For me, consciously slowing the breath seems to help. Also, like you are doing, letting up on the rules a bit. And consciously trying to listen to, and follow, what my body is telling me, rather than what I am “supposed” to do. If I’m really tired, I don’t push it (I used to). Trying to be gentler with myself, rather than forcing.

    I’m not telling you anything new. 🙂

  2. It seems like it should be so simple, doesn’t it?

    I am tempted to try a few practices where I just go until I am not connected to the practice (versus marching straight through come hell or high water). This is a scary idea for me. I start wondering if my practice would just get shorter and shorter and then fade away into nothing. On the other hand, what’s the point of forcing things?

    Question of the day (or lifetime): What’s the point of forcing things?

    I am SUPER good (from much practice) at not forcing other people. I STINK, however, at not forcing myself. Gotta work that through…

  3. Since you asked, my conservative doctrinaire view is – you should try (force yourself) to make the time to complete your sequence, even if you don’t feel like practicing. Otherwise, why bother? You’ve chosen ashtanga over other feel good styles for a reason. The method is designed to subjugate the ego and cultivate detachment.

    The way to soften is to observe the breath, and surrender to the pose. And not worry to much whether your rendition is worthy of a video. 🙂

  4. Didn’t mean to imply that you’re being egotistical at all. I was being tongue in cheek.

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