Live from Mysore #9 (It might get boring)

This is a little technical. (Although I’m sure my opinions and obseravtions will make their way in). Yoga—or more importantly Ashtanga Yoga, which I am studying and is loosely the basis for the way I teach is a very strict practice. Initailly, I thought there was only one way to do this practice. 60 to 70 asanas/poses (just in the primary series), in a certain order, the same every time. Turns out every teacher seems to have a very slight twist on this. A pose is missing, a pose is added, a pose is substituted, etc.. Mostly siding with the late Pattabhi Jois, mainly because of his popularity (my opinion). There are hundereds of blogs and internet forums were westerners argue about the “right” way to do the asana part of Ashtanga Yoga (ashtanga can attract the militant at times), which, as we practice it, is only one of eight ingredients. Only about 5% of the Indian population is interested in Yoga and of that 5% most of them think Asana (the thing we do the most) is the least important. I LOVE that part of it. But my TM teacher says the only reason to do Asana (or as he calls it “the circus”) is so that we can be strong enough to sit for more than ½ hour with our legs crossed without our backs hurting. Clearly some people are not as interested in looking good naked as we are.

Anyway here is the breakdown. This is like the 10 commandments of yoga (or the eightfold path of Buddhism):

• Yama (see below)
• niyama – Commitments to practice, such as study and devotion
• asana – integration of mind and body through physical activity
• pranayama – integration of mind and body through breathing
• pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses of perception from their objects
• dharana – one-pointedness of mind
• dhyana – meditation (quiet activity that leads to samadhi)
• samadhi – the quiet state of blissful awareness
Practice of these precepts is said to result in a state in which one’s behavior spontaneously follows the five ethical precepts (Yamas):
• Ahimsa – refraining from injury (non-life supporting action)
• satya – truthfulness
• asteya – freedom from stealing
• bramacharya – living within the Self (moderation; abstinence)
• aparigraha – freedom from attachment to possessions

I am studing asana with BNS Iyengar and the rest with Nagaraja S. Pande. Studying with Nagaraja has been like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant.

Last night, as a break from the entire India and Yoga thing, Nancy and I watched the movie “It Might Get Loud”. It was great, and as much as I looked at it as a refreshing contrast—which I always crave in my life—I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Yoga and Music, Music and silence, life and no life, the mind and no mind. The same (and as rain man would say) not the same.

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