Friday, February 26, 2010


Yoga Sutra 1.15 "Detachment is mastery in not desiring objects seen or heard of."
-translation by Maehle

Ahead of me in the next few months, I'm going to have to make some choices as far as employment goes. My current contract lasts just to the end of the year. I've got multiple options which is both exciting and daunting. As a chronic over-scheduler, my usual method of managing choices is to get attached to all possible outcomes and then try to do it all.

I'm finding in asana practice that I go through phases of attachment and detachment. It's interesting for me to watch the phases come and go. When I am first given something new to work on (a pose or transition), I'm initially fairly detached from it...usually because I don't actually believe the new pose is something I'll ever do! I notice my attachment to specific poses most when, for whatever reason, I "lose" a pose that I have been doing steadily. It serves to remind me that the practice is not the pose. It is the whole package: breath, bandha, driste, asana. When a "lost" pose does eventually return, it is always, of course, different. The longer I practice, the more I notice that grasping at poses is like trying to hold onto air. It's just not very substantial. I still get attached...still "desire objects seen or heard"...I still want handstand!

I'm grateful though, that this practice gives me a chance to do just that, practice. I can be attached to a pose and watch it happen...and then watch what happens when the pose changes, as it inevitably will. With a lifetime of practice, who knows what's possible? I hope to carry the experience of attachment and detachment in asana practice with me into the next few months as I approach this next round of employment decision-making.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It Comes Back to Practice

...on with the yoga sutra...

In sutras 1.17-1.11, Patanjali describes each of the five fluctuations in more detail, but in sutra 1.12 he comes back to the point of how to get to "yoga", where "yoga" is "the suspension of these fluctuations".

and the answer is... Practice.

Yoga sutra 1.12 "The suspension of these fluctuations is through practice and detachment."
-Gregor Maehle translation

1.13 "Practice is the steadfast effort to still these fluctuations." -Iyengar translation


There is a lot I could say about how important a consistent practice is to me, but nothing I say can possibly convey what that practice has and does teach me. I learn from my practice every day. As I said in a comment on a fellow Ashtangi's blog, I would not trade the work that I do each day in practice for anything. There is nothing like it.

I like that Patanjali points out that "long, uninterrupted" practice is the path to a quiet mind. It reminds me that there is no hurry and no expectation of instant success (whatever that might look like). If the road to a quiet mind is expected to be a long one, then it seems the best course of action is to relax and enjoy the journey...and the longer that I maintain a consistent practice, the more possible that seems!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Yoga Sutra continues...

...A return to my trek through the Yoga Sutra...

Sutra 1:5-6 "There are five types of mind waves, which can be troublesome or untroublesome. The five fluctuations of mind or mind waves are correct perception, wrong perception, conceptualization, deep sleep, and memory."
-translation by Gregor Maehle

It's interesting to me that after Patanjali defines yoga as the absence of "mind waves" that he goes on to point out that some of the fluctuations experienced are not necessarily "troublesome". It's a reiteration to me that yoga is less about right and wrong, and more about awareness of the moment. There is the suggestion, however, that we can learn to make more conscious choices about how we respond to what we are experiencing in a given moment. The fact that there are names for five fluctuations suggests that there comes a point at which we can tell the difference between them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Return to Blogging

After a few weeks off, I've made some time to return to the blogosphere. This spring has me working 2 jobs and teaching 6 classes. It's schedules like this that make me grateful for practice. One of the benefits of setting aside early morning time for asana practice is that there's nowhere else I'm supposed to be. I get those couple hours to myself. Getting out of bed early never gets any easier for me, but getting that time on the mat is always worth it.