"This is what you shall do: Love the earth, and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to anyone who asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote you income and labor to others, hate tyrants...have patients and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or a number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been been told in school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh will be a great poem, and have the richest fluency not only in words but in the silent lines of its lips and face between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
~ Walt Whitman
Digging the one well. Staying true to the process. Form versus formlessness.
As I delve deeper into this practice I'm left pondering various insights that have come to the forefront. It's funny how the politics centered around the practice seeps in...which is totally manufactured by those who get caught up in the whirlwind of all that has nothing to do with the essential relationship with ourselves, and the greater power.
Recently, I told a friend my trips to Mysore have evolved quite interestingly. After my first trip, I left here not giving a shit about it as much as I did before, but at the same time, I became more devoted than ever to the practice, and the process. A strange and amusing paradox.
Stepping outside the yoga bubble in the U.S. I see things a bit differently. I've seen how the western mind likes to infiltrate yoga philosphy...modify it, tweak it....make it more marketable and profitable. When in reality, it simply cannot be made into another type of new thing to acquire. Many look to becoming a teacher before they have even gotten any significant amount of practice under their belts. Why is it we are so quick to fix others instead of fixing ourselves first? Getting a grasp of what the essence of yoga is cannot be attained through the level of the mind only. It cannot be learned in a teacher training course. Absolutely not. It is only attained through the experiential path of practice. Nothing more. Nothing less. No amount of training courses will get you there. Give me 200 hour RYT, give me 5,000....who cares...it means nothing to the larger scope of where the core of yoga resides.
I've studied with teachers who have known every muscle of the body, what bone it was attached to and every function it fulfills. I've studied with those who have memorized every thread of the Yoga Sturas by heart in English and in Sanskrit. But, in the end, I'm left feeling as if something is missing...somehow, they never touch the true soul of the practice...the heartbeat, is lost as it filters through the level of the mind by knowledge alone. In turn, I've studied with those who have said nothing...no analyzing Utthita Trikonasna....no setting up a scaffolding around my body to get me into proper alignment...to have them look me in the eyes, give me a simple touch, adjusting my body, like a flood gate, opening the whole world before me in a very instant. Powerful indeed.
The essence. The core. Is beyond verbal cues and written understanding. Not that they aren't valid, but in reality, are only gateways to a deeper more subtle, mysterious level.
With a litany of hybrid, codified, modified, yoga forms out there, dare I say they hardly scratch the surface.
Honestly, I'm not so sure I gathered a full understanding of Ashtanga yoga until coming to Mysore, walking through the process here. What I thought I knew...I didn't...what I thought I didn't know...I did. Thank goodness, I had the rug pulled out from under me, to then, have the opportunity to build a stronger foundation.
The system is simple, yet challenging. Practice is all there is...nothing else takes the place of that.
Once a teacher gets caught up in the details over the meditative flow of movement...I know that it isn't about formlessness anymore, it becomes tangled up in form. Yes, asana is important and the fundamental start to delving deeper, but at the sacrifice of of breath, bandhas, and driste?
Most importantly, the practice cannot be taken all too seriously. A balance of ultimate discipline along with a detachment to attaining, or end results. The process becomes much more fascinating, versus getting caught up in the minutia of overt details....the devil being in the details, that is. Always coming into a place of wholeness and completeness brings freedom, not bondage. This is all there is. We already have everything. It's only a matter of peeling back the layers tapping into our True nature. No fancy straps or blocks needed. The most captivating tool is our God given body...as we yoke and unite mind, body and soul.