The Writing

12 February, 2013

yorick's lucky

My various gods and ancestors, the migraines. This is the season for them. Thanks, changing weather! Thanks, super sensitive barometric sinuses! My eyeballs feel hot and fuzzy. That's only slightly less awful than the icepick behind one of those fuzzy eyes, making it water and blur.

There was something I wanted to rant about, and I delayed it long enough that by the time I sat down to write, the headache has struck. Which I guess is okay, because seriously, who needs more ranting on the internet? --Oh. Nevermind. Now I remember. But I won't rant, or rather, it's been long enough that I am not feeling ranty (which was the point of waiting). And also, headache! Which means my time in front of a lambent (I love that word) screen is limited.

I ran across myself in a blog the other week. The blog belongs to a work-friend, who also happens to be my boss for these past few quarters, and who will be my boss again next year, too.  She is a hardcore Ashtangi. Seriously hardcore. We've talked about yoga together a few times over the years, and I read her blog because it's a glimpse into a world I don't inhabit and about which I am curious, because I am almost always curious about other people's experiences.

In one of my semi-regular passes, I saw a mention in this blog of a work-friend who is "dithering" in her practice, because said work-friend will not accompany her to an Ashtanga shala no matter how many times she asked. And since she'd just asked if I wanted to go to a workshop with Kino MacGregor, and I had said 'lemme check,' I knew she meant me. Well, that and the last two or three times she's said 'come practice with so-and-so and I will go with you' I have declined.

 My only Primary Series exposure has been filtered through other practices; my favorite instructor, who does Viniyoga, taught a whole quarter last winter that was Ashtanga prep. Loved it. Loved the sweat, the challenge, the power of it. I told her that, when I was new to yoga and she was not and we were discussing my practice. I had it in my head, back then, that what I wanted from yoga is the physical badassery, and to some extent I still do; but I've been practicing for a few more years, now, and my opinions have evolved a little. So has my situation. When I thought I might want to be an Ashtangi, Nous was hip-deep in dissertation and I was, well, lonely. At loose ends. Feeling like I needed something that consumed my life like his diss consumed his. Something that was mine in a way that diss was his.

Well. The diss is over.

The  implication of the blogpost in which I found myself a supporting character was that my dithering about my practice was in some way indicative of some hesitation or fear about leaping into Ashtanga. Let me be clear: the post was not about me. It was about asana practice and diligence and her relationship to those things. I was there only as 'this is what I was like, too, once, and I wish I'd stopped dithering sooner." And there was an implication there that I was afraid to commit to Ashtanga, and that was the reason for all my refusals.

And then another invite appeared on Facebook to a workshop here in L.A. in March at her former shala. Come with me, she said. I'll be right next to you. No fear.

And that is where I got all...not angry. Okay. Maybe angry. Huffy, I think, is a better descriptor (which both amused and annoyed me: seriously, self, wtf? Get over it). I decided that, if I was clearly so attached to her opinion of me, and so reactive to it, that I'd best examine why that is. (I blame the Aristotle I've been inflicting on my students lately, and his relentlessly reasoned approach; also, I blame Vulcans, but only in an admiring way.) So anyway, I went off and thought about it. Am I dithering? Am I...afraid?

Yes and yes, but not for the reasons I think she thinks.

One: I like where I practice now, both for location and price. I like being able to walk to practice. I think twice before driving anywhere in this damn city. The two shalas I know of are north and south of an hour away. That adds 2 hours to any practice I schedule. No. I won't even drive 10 minutes to get to a Yogaworks. So I am dithering about driving to the workshop.

Two: You cannot beat the price of my gym membership with a stick, and although they cost extra, the yoga classes are also a great deal. This workshop, for the single session I would attend, is not cheap.

Three: I am generally pleased with the breadth and quality of my classes. I love my Thursday teacher because she can balance the student skill-levels and challenge everyone, and because she knows all our names, and because she will make a point, every class, of speaking to all of us and offering at least one correction. She pushes me at things I am not ready for, sure; but by doing so, she makes sure I don't stagnate, and that I work actively in my home practice to get to those impossibilities. I don't think there's a jot of Ashtanga in her practice. My favorite teacher is trained in Viniyoga and if  he gets permission to do a teacher-training this summer, here in Irvine, I will do it.  Commit. In a heartbeat. (I am not in love with my Monday class, but that is another tale for another time; the instructor is fine, but he is not as good as Thursday's teacher at managing a multi-level room.)

Anyway, I like being an eclectic. (Do I sound defensive? I'm trying to be Aristotelian.) I don't want to do Primary Series, and only Primary Series, until such time as I graduate to Secondary. I don't want to get up at 4 am or 5 am for practice because that's when Ashtangis get up for a reason I haven't yet confirmed but which is based in spirituality. Do not want.

Which is not to say I don't derive something other than visible gut muscles  from my yoga. I do. Focus, detachment, discipline. But  I have my own spiritual practices, and a sense of purpose not reliant on my yoga. Yoga applies to my thaumateurgy, not my theurgy. It's a supplement to other things, not a center. It is not my priority. I am not interested, at this time and probably ever, in making that shift.

But I know I have it within me  to wish for a structure by which to regiment my existence. It's so much easier, with routines. With habits. With rituals. And I have sworn off rituals.

That said, I did agree to go to the Kino workshop for a single session. I will  keep an eye on my work-friend because I don't know the Sanskrit words for the postures, and she does, so I can follow along. And I will come home sore, after an hour in the goddamned car (probably more, on a Saturday), and impressed all over again by the badass Ashtangis in the world. She can believe I'm afraid, and that's fine. I know better.

Not that I have signed up for the workshop session yet.  Perhaps I AM dithering, after all.