An offer I couldn’t refuse

Yes, it’s Saturday, a day off from work and practice. So why did I get up at 4 AM? A one day retreat at the zendo. A yoga and zen retreat. I’m very curious about this. I think they’ve brought in a local teacher to talk about yoga as an aid to sitting. A physical aid, I imagine. Could be wrong, though. Maybe we’ll talk some philosophy.

Speaking of philosophy. Yesterday, Cody mentioned raja yoga. Which sounded familiar to me, but I needed a refresher. So I turned to wikipedia. Oh yes, a familiar list: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi. I sang the words in my head, just as I learned them from Volleyball Guy.

And then the breakdown of yamas: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, aparigraha. Yup, chanted them in my head to remember them. Just like in practice with Volleyball Guy.

And the niyamas: sauca, santosha, tapas, svadhyaya, isvaraprandihana. I remember the day he taught us that. And all the days we chanted them.

And then I remembered the discussions about dharana, dhyana and samadhi — the concepts that I, coming from zen to yoga, could recognize and feel at home with.

So as it turns out, I learned Ashtanga yoga (SKPJ’s sequence of poses) AND Ashtanga yoga (Raja Yoga is sometimes referred to as Ashtanga — eight-limbed — yoga because there are eight aspects to the path to which one must attend.).

I wonder if this is usual practice? To learn both? VBG actually teaches the second Ashtanga more persistently and holds it in highest regard. I love that I learned it by the oral tradition (I can pretty much only remember the limbs, yamas, and niyamas if I chant them like the alphabet and then translate them into English in my head). This is really saying something, because I am astonishingly language-learning challenged.

Anyhow, I am grateful for what I’ve learned, and how I’ve learned it. I feel very lucky. Thanks, VBG!


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