Practice

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I have often wondered why it is difficult to have a conversation about practice with yoga students from other schools/disciplines. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t always the case, I have some of most revealing and insightful conversations with a long time yoga friend/teacher. This is most likely because she has a really full practice, meaning like me she is also a student of sound, Sanskrit and sutra recitation….the big picture yoga.

Practicing yoga is not practicing asana’s. Practicing yoga is not bouncing around from teacher to teacher, mixing and matching styles before really understanding any of them…and don’t even get me started on “invented” yoga styles that seems to be about entertainment, distraction, and not getting bored at any costs. I have always said that practice is the process of allowing yourself to feel just how boring a subject matter can be and at the other end of that STILL wanting to practice, STILL finding treasures. Everyday when I take to the top of the mat and chant the same invocation I have been chanting for nearly 6 years now and raise my arms overhead with that first inhale…WOW! it is like a miracle, a mystery, an endless exercise in boring fascination…..no hoops or hoopla needed.

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4 Responses to Practice

  1. Frank says:

    You know, if I did a more Iyengar-style practice–say, 10 or 12 poses with much longer holds–I’d probably find that boring, honestly. But in Ashtanga, ostensibly the same practice every day, you’re doing dozens of poses–even if only half of Primary Series. It moves fast. Some people say it was designed in its current form to calm the minds of teenage boys–and now totally applicable to we supposed adults with ADHD, “Type A” personalities, and other forms of impatience. I feel like if someone truly finds Ashtanga to be “boring”, something must be REALLY wrong with them. HA! Now, I’m sure that there are some ineffective teachers out there whose students may find it boring–and that is a shame! But anyone who does the practice for more than a few weeks knows that some days are going to feel great and others will feel very, very different, and in all sorts of different ways (and practicing in a room with not a single bit of flat floorspace ensures that this is the case more often that one might imagine!).

    I think it is *perceived* boringness that’s the biggest problem. For a while now, I’ve been wondering if we should even be marketing Ashtanga as a “set sequence of poses”. That seems to be the feature I most commonly see immediately in explanations of the practice. But I feel that there’s a very small portion of the population for whom that’s actually an attractive feature (I know it wasn’t for me), and most of them go to Bikram anyway. Maybe I’ve just spent too long working with Marketing people, but I feel we need a better elevator pitch. 🙂

  2. Frank says:

    Haha, just saw the Yoga Garden ad using that exact phrase. I happily admit that I could be totally wrong…but I have a lot of thoughts, viable or not, that I occasionally feel the need to spew. 🙂

    • Frank,

      I always say that Mysore style is hard-ish to describe properly….like I hate the phrase, “self-practice.” Self practice is just not what is happening, I prefer to say, “self paced practice.” Mike tells me that is really easy to describe. I think that the closer the subject is to your heart describing something that is actually an experience is very difficult. It reminds me of this quote.

      “A painting is not a picture of an experience; it is an experience.” Mark Rothko

  3. Frank says:

    Love that. Yeah, self-practice is not quite right. Self-practice is what people do when they practice alone–at home or otherwise without a teacher to guide them. Self-paced practice is definitely more like it. Of course, that still intimidates so many people–but you can’t win them all, I guess. And it’s like DK said in his video: to some extent, the person needs to be ready to take on some responsibility for their own practice.

    I also like to think of it as a semi-private lesson/class. To me, that’s a big selling point, since it’s so much more expensive (probably 50-150% more expensive) than monthly vinyasa classes (though unlimited Bikram is a similar price as Mysore). If you did privates for 1.5 hours a day 5 days a week (the amounf of time you’d presumably spend in Mysore classes after moon days and such), I imagine you’d be spending in the range of $3,000 a month. Mysore classes are a steal!

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