Ode to the bat cave, Svadhyaya, Navasana

I’m loving the curtains in the yoga room. Basically, the yoga room is part of an open floorplan that includes the foyer, livingroom and hallway. There are half-walls and vaulted ceilings, which adds up to a lot of open space. Which I love. I am not keen on decorations; what I like about architectural spaces is the open space.

So I was amused when The Cop came home from work yesterday morning, peeped his head into the yoga room where I was practicing and said, “Nice bat cave.” I looked around: the yoga room has been winterized. In summer, I leave the windows, which are one wall, uncovered, and use a light shoji screen to strategically deflect any unreasonably strong sunlight. The rest of the room is open, with one wall being a half-wall that shares the livingroom, and another side entirely open to the hall/kitchen space.

Anyhow, yesterday I was on my mat, little heater blazing beside me, with one whole wall covered by thick, dark blue drapes, and the shoji screen pulled close to block off the open side of the room and keep the heat all nice and close to me.

A warm, dark bat cave.


Seeing as today is the weekly day off, and tomorrow is a Moon Day, I scheduled my tattoo appointment for yesterday afternoon. Svadhyaya. On my inner left forearm. I’ll get The Cop to take a picture later. I just got up and am feeling lazy.

This tattoo was not hard to figure out: I knew just where I wanted to put it. It did, however, kick off all kinds of other ideas for tattoos. All of them words. I’m not sure what the deal is, but I have no desire for images, and a great attraction to tattoos that are just words. Go figure.

I was thinking about a matching isvarapranidhana, but then felt like I needed to wait on that one. So we’ll see what happens.

I also spent some time thinking about zen-related tattoos. Amusingly, when I think about a zen tattoo, and kind of “feel it through,” conceptually and aesthetically, I’m finding that they tend to disappear. Perhaps they are too close to non-existence right from the get?

As it turns out, svadhyaya has a nice zen component, as it dovetails with some of Dogen’s most evocative words — wait a minute, how can I even say that? ALL of Dogen’s words are pretty evocative! 😉 Anyhow, from the Genjōkōan:

To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever.


Navasana, for some reason, is really bothering me lately. Not physically so much as mentally. I’ve got an aversion going. Funny how those aversions arise. I wonder, when they happen, whether I am “missing” some component of the pose, whether I’ve coasted along with it for a couple of years and am now hitting the wall because of shiftings in other parts of my practice. Or perhaps my mind has taken a little flight of fancy that includes aversion to this pose.


When you sail out in a boat to the middle of an ocean where no land is in sight, and view the four directions, the ocean looks circular, and does not look any other way. But the ocean is neither round or square; its features are infinite in variety. It is like a palace. It is like a jewel. It only looks circular as far as you can see at that time. All things are like this.


4 Responses

  1. i can’t wait to see your ink!
    what do you feel averse to about navasana? when i first started my practice and went to led classes i had a horrible aversion to upavishta konasana. i wish i had written about it in a journal or something because now i love the pose and can’t even remember why i hated it so much.

  2. I’m not really sure what the aversion is. I just never feel any enjoyment in the pose: it’s just all about hanging out and kind of waiting for it to be over. At best, I get through it and move on — at worst, it makes my psoas feel like it’s turning into cement. I guess I just can’t seem to find any lightness. It’s just a fight against gravity. All of the other poses in primary have little places where you can find some pleasure — as if there’s a little key movement or awareness that turns the pose on and brings it alive. Navasana, at least at this point, just seems like drudgery.

    That said, a couple of years ago, I hated the prasaritas — and now I just love them.

  3. Understand about the cementing of the psoas there. What about trying to decementify the psoas in the final part of utthitha hasta–bringing the work really into the core–and then repeating the dynamic in the boat?

    Who is this amazing Genjōkōan person? This quotation is doing me in. I love it.

  4. The first chapter of Dogen’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogen) Shobogenzo(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shobogenzo), or “Treasury of the True Dharma Eye,” is called “Genjo Koan.”

    Here’s a nice translation of Genjo Koan: http://genjokoan.com/

    Dogen is an amazing writer. I love thinking about the fact that this fellow was thinking these thoughts in 1230… What a trip.

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