"I am learning to understand rather than immediately judge or to be judged. I cannot blindly follow the crowd and accept their approach. I will not allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I have come to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized. I am happy because I am growing daily and I am honestly not knowing where the limit lies. To be certain, every day there can be a revelation or a new discovery. I treasure the memory of the past misfortunes. It has added more to my bank of fortitude." - Bruce Lee   

My technique is daily practice. It's as simple as that. Easy, no, not always, but a straight forward, direct approach. I guess you can say, there are no magic bullets. At some point and probably not in this lifetime, the practice in itself will have to fall away. No longer needing to be identified with the tool, but able to sit in the state of yoga alone. Perfect oneness. Hmmmm. Sounds wonderful. Can't say I know what that is like in my everyday living. Though, I've tasted glimpses. Tiny little trickles that keep me hanging on - knowing somewhere deep within the spaces, filled with conscious breath, will reveal the light, moving stillness brings.

I've had an interesting past several months. I took the opportunity to practice with a number of guest teachers. Self-practice is my bread and butter in between trips to Mysore, but I guess you can say I'm always curious about well known teachers. From awesome, to decent, to down right bad, I've experienced it all, and everything in between, and what I've found is there is always something to be learned by various teachers. Always. It's inevitable, there will be those we just won't resonate with, while others we'll hang on to every word and instruction like a treasure. It's never one size fits all.

Sometimes I'm left wondering what is really being offered? Did I sign up for an experience of staged charisma and a bagful of techniques to buy into? What happened to the internal alignment? Is this only about perfecting asana or is it about entering into the places inside left unopened? I don't have the answers but the yoga industry more and more is sounding like some type of new age "please fix me because I'm broken" type of thing, that well, seems to work for some and keeps them feeling as if they are doing yoga.

"It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential."            - Bruce Lee

There will always be differing points of view and it takes time to filter through it all. Understanding what feels good in this moment for me has become an important factor. I had one teacher out of the blue tell me I'll break my knees doing Bhekasana (Intermediate series) in the manner I was doing it, which not to mention, was clearly instructed to me by another very well known teacher.  Huh?! Well, to date, my knees have felt really good, and I just don't seem to understand the fear based instruction being offered. The attitude didn't feel good, and in the process my knee was tweaked by being pushed into something that the teacher felt structurally I should have been doing, that in the process totally bypassed the energetic component. Which is often missed. One thing I have learned, through experimentation, if a teacher breaks me, at least I know the practice will heal me.

I've been around the bend enough to tell the difference between being adjusted from the core versus the periphery. What do I mean by this? Well, an adjustment that aligns the energy to the central axis of the body versus molding it into an external structure, hence a "yoga journal" pose - alignment that may look good in the magazines but is all wrong energetically and therapeutically. It is easily felt. It feels like connecting only to the periphery. No internal engagement. It's so interesting, and even though the experience didn't feel good and had my knee popping in and out of place for several days afterward, I really learned the difference, and felt it in my body clearly from the experience. At least for that I can be thankful. A light bulb moment, knowing that, hey, I'm on the right track here. After 15 years of yoga practice maybe I know at least little bit about the mechanics of my body.

As a teacher, I have learned to see where there is no energy flow. It goes much deeper than just looking at the structure. Is there a free flow of energy running through the circuits of the body? Where is there dead space? It's amazing how many of us carry dead space in our bodies, and it's beautiful when it begins to awaken. Through time, a sixth sense begins to develop in feeling/sensing where these areas arise in students. With much to still learn, the subtleties and unseen parts, the spaces, are what leave me fascinated, and undoubtedly knowing there is a vast amount to discover and realize.

"A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at." - Bruce Lee 

Ashtanga yoga is an energetic practice. On so many levels. The importance of getting the body circulating first is key to the development of practitioners starting out, hence the internal alignment. I've seen how time and time again when starting from this point, through consistency, the practice and the body start to take shape. Which we see externally. The by product.

Exceptional teachers will adjust the body in a manner which will further the engagement or alignment internally. I have felt it many a times with experienced teachers coming from this place. Where when moved, I feel the central axis of the body more pronounced through the adjustment. The interesting part is how it looks on the outside may be amply different from person to person depending on what stage they are in - the further beauty of the Mysore method of practicing and teaching - working individually while having the energy of the group to carry one through.

What I've also come to discover is the vast difference felt with those teachers who continue to work with a teacher themselves even if they have reached a certain apex in their work, especially in the tradition they are teaching in. It means a lot to me, and I seem to connect to those who continue working with teachers or go to the source so to speak or have done so long term. It is a different experience when practicing with those who use the name to further their reach as teachers but in the end don't really respect where it is coming from. Because in the end, what are we promoting?

“Zen is not “attained” by mirror-wiping mediation, but by “self-forgetfulness in the existential ‘present’ of life here and now.” We do not “come”, we “are.” Don’t strive to become, but be.” - Bruce Lee

3 Insightful Comments:

Nobel said...

Thank you. I really agree with what you say about internal alignment and the practice being first and foremost a breathing, energetic practice.

StEvE said...

Nice to see you posting again!

Here's three of my favourite Bruce Lee quotes, which, in some way or other, can also relate to the practice:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”

“Showing off is the fool's idea of glory.”

peaceloveyoga said...

Awesome Steve. I already have one of those quotes queued up for my next written blog post.

That Bruce Lee he had so many good quotes!


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