Friday, October 12, 2012

A few notes to my Ashtanga Students

-Pay attention to what you eat. Especially the night before practice, also, when you eat. If you are eating easily digestible, mostly plant-based meals, by the time you are on your mat the next day, you will be empty and light. On the other hand, heavier foods that stay in the system longer, will make pick up/ pull backs feel impossible. We can use all the help we can get.

-This is a practice that is best done three to six days a week. If you are an occasional ashtangi, chances are you will push yourself too hard too soon in the poses and get hurt, or else, get discouraged and give up. This is, as a wise student said the other day a 'showing up' practice, not a dabbling one.

-Examine your tendency towards an all or nothing practice. The mysore format allows you to be in the driver seat of your practice. A short, light practice on the days when you just don't feel like stepping on the mat is often better than sleeping in, and doing a longer, bigger practice the next day. You are building a relationship, and a fundamental part of that relationship is to show up even when it hurts a little. Imagine if you bowed out of a relationship any time there was difficulty...

-Watch out for early signs of fundamentalism. The zeal of the newly convert is very much a real thing.  Watch your own reactions, your assumptions, your desire to be a part of a group, your aversion, etc. This is all part of the process of unraveling the self on the path to awakening to the Self.

-There will be plateaus. There will be periods of what will feel like regression. There will be practices that feel like pulling teeth. There will be the occasional tweaks and injuries. The tendency to want to give up the practice might accompany these phases. This tendency might be very strong and very convincing. This is another way we get to watch the theater of the mind. This is another way we get to develop trust and faith in the process. There will be mornings when you will not want to practice, but you will anyway, because you recognize that our tendency is to resist change and in overcoming the resistance, tapas, the purifying heat will be the result.

-Ask yourself often: 'why am I doing this?' Be honest with your answers.

-Take days off. Observe at least one day a week off from physical practice. Take two days a month extra. Take your 3 days of ladies' holiday. There is no medal for you, no confetti at the end, because this is not a race.

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