Sri K Pattabhi Jois said, "Yoga is 99 percent practice, one percent theory." This blog is a resource to explore the one percent theory and to inspire you on the mat.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

From David's Ashtanga Journals: Perfect that Single Sacred Asana

"From David's Ashtanga Journals" are unedited excerpts from my ongoing Ashtanga journals.

Fall is in swing here in Philly. At the Ashtanga Yoga School of Philadelphia the heaters are on high as the tapas burns. I would like to thank Dhyana Yoga (Dhyana Vitarelli and John Vitarelli) who have been supporting our school in many ways! Several students from their strong rooted Philadelphia Vinyasa program have taken up ashtanga and I am so happy they are part of our community!!

In the next couple weeks I will begin solidifying my spring schedule and am excited to announce that I will be teaching further south (at Balance Yoga in Atlanta) and north (at Florence yoga in Northampton) ! My teaching is reaching a wider circle of people partly due to you all who enjoy my blog, thank you for continuing to show your support and spreading the DG word! Hopefully this year I will get the opportunity to meet new people and share yoga with many of you.

Now to the goods!

Below are two excerpts from my journals. They were both drawn out of a notebook I used last winter in Mysore. Enjoy!

Excerpt One

Perfect that Single Asana!

The theme or premise is that asana practice is based on a single asana created by breath. That posture could have several names including

Shavasana, Sarvangasana,

Hanumanasana, Samasthiti

Tadasana, Bhairavasana

Mula Bandhasana

Generally speaking in our daily practice we can get sucked in by the lure of our fantasy about the forms of the asanas in sequences. Each asana in the sequence could be thought of as an excursion towards and/or away from that one single asana that is the essence of all asana. In our fantasy of what we will look like and how good it will feel we overextend ourselves in our efforts to achieve what we consider to be the end goal or final pose. Our excursions take us too far away from the center where the skeletal support is, where our breath really does lead the way-- where we make optimal use of our muscles and organs and where our brains are situated properly to minimize reality obscuring ego striving.

For example, to go for a drop back and be unheeding of the position of the skeleton in order to get your hands to the floor is a long term mistake. In the short term there might be a thrill, a sense of accomplishment and a sense of maximizing progress. a feeling like you are working at the edge so you will improve and be an intense student--- (like yoga sutra 1-21 for the intense student--- yoga--nirodah is near). How strict are you going to be? How close to center are you going to stay? How many props (please note: only if necessary and desired and under certain, specific conditions) are you willing to use to remain close to center, close to principles?---We want to explore the foundational principles of the positions and see how those principles will always lead back to that central asana that has so many important names---but actually is unnameable---

--- this is precisely why asana is limb 3 and Samadhi is limb 8--- samadhi is more based around the center, where movement is subtle and stillness reigns---

you have to be sure you are not sacrificing your body to your ego. That you are not going too far in order to compensate for unconscious feelings of unworthiness--- you don't need to use your asana practice to 'prove' you are good and worthy.

and yet don't underestimate the amount of shakti, energy, both physical and mental, that it takes to strike a pose and remain utterly centered in dynamic absorption.

It is ironic that the more gymnastic posture appears to be more difficult---But from an energetic and emotional place, sitting, working with breathing, can be more challenging, require more energy--- because of what will be revealed about you, because of what you will experience about yourself.

Excerpt Two

The World is a Sacrament

Never mind that to many people it is blasphemy. The truth is that you don't need to be inside a church or in some official place to worship God. In fact, I've found that for me being outside, under the sky, feeling the air, seeing the sun, or the sea, or the mountains puts me in touch with God. I've taken to saluting the sun, facing the sun and moving through a set of exercises. I coordinate my movement with breath and I become prayerful. Filled with joyous connection and know a sense of deep peace and belonging. To me the entire world is a sacrament--- everything and everyone everywhere is sacred--- and its up to me to attune to this ever present beauty wherever I may be.


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