Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On Dynamism and Faith

This is a post about asana, but first, a confession: I wake most mornings surprised that the world has not fallen apart around me. I expect the worst outcome of every situation, and do not change my mind even when the evidence suggests otherwise.  When walking in the woods or driving my car, I constantly think that I am going the wrong way. This leads me to stick to familiar trails, and even then, I often question whether I missed a turn and am bound to spend the evening alone, in the woods. Regardless of how much my students tell me that they enjoyed my classes, I stay awake for hours, breaking down everything about the classes I taught that day and thinking about ways I could've done better. I routinely beat myself up for not being a better teacher, even when I know that I am showing up with everything I've got; even when I see indisputable change and growth in my students; even when they flat out tell me.

I am a child of war: the skies were falling when I was young, so it is difficult to accept the perpetual california sunshine and air of optimism, no matter that I've now spent half of my life here, in this abundance of...everything. It is difficult to trust it. It is difficult to accept.

I am a child of revolution: the changes were constant, and the path kept shifting, so of course I don't trust that someone did not carve a new path in my favorite woods to throw me off. If I get lost, there is no one to find me; the work is mine and mine alone.

I am a child who was fed on a steady diet of high expectations and generous punishments; I do a great job of providing both for myself these days. As much as I am aware of this pattern, it takes a lot of work to interrupt it.

But this is a post about asana, remember? How does my list of patterns and samskaras relate to postures? It's simple: I approach my postures anticipating failure, ready to turn around, ready to dole out punishment in my head. This all came to surface when I studied with the King of Dynamism, David Garrigues...Up until then, I had carefully covered my patterns in the cloak of 'moving mindfully' and 'listening to my body.' Up until then, I  had grown expert at allowing my self-limiting prophesies to run the show of my yoga practice. Up until then, I kept taking the same familiar trail, for fear of getting lost in the woods.

David, in his enthusiastic and firm way, pushed me out of the woods into an uncomfortable territory of NOT KNOWING. I did not know what my postures looked like, and that terrified me. I didn't even know half the time why he wanted me to change them, but I did not ask. It really didn't feel important. Biomechanics aside, what he was asking me to do was have faith, believe, keep going. Not faith in him, or even the method, but in myself. Faith that my body is not as fragile as I think it is. Faith that it knows the way, even if I get lost a few times. Faith that the process is always more interesting than the outcome.

Dynamism is not about moving faster, it's about moving with confidence, with dispatch. It's about not wasting mental energy over whether I'm going the right way, whether the earth will open and swallow me whole, whether I look good while doing it, whether the world is falling apart around me. It's to get there (wherever 'there' happens to be that day), and then stay long enough to become fully alert, awake. As he said, to practice is to say Yes, day after day. I am learning how to replace the No with Yes.