Friday, April 25, 2008

Day 242

The Great Expectations Edition.

In follow-up to yesterday's post about trying to find the 'feel good' moments in each pose: I did the same today and it was starkly clear when my mind wandered. When my attention strayed, a sense of dread would wash over me like a bad wave. I'm realising that I have developed a very bad habit: I'm expecting the very worst from my poses. I seem to carry with me all these memories of past discomfort and I'm projecting them into my present reality.

For example, Marichyasana C is sometimes difficult and uncomfortable if I'm bloated or experiencing digestive distress. This doesn't happen often, but I have fallen into a pattern of wondering, each and every time I do the pose, whether it will be uncomfortable. Today, I let go of that expectation. Instead, I told myself that this would be a GREAT Marichyasana C. I would enjoy it and feel a lovely release in my low back. I would find that fabulous combination of strength and stretch in my shoulder and revel in it. And I did just that. Great expectations!

So, I started asking myself: What type of fabulousness do I want to feel in this pose today? And then I tried to find it.

This is my brain, on yoga.

In other news, handstands are strong again and I discovered what my problem was. Are you ready for this? I had started practising Pinchamayurasana (crim, I know) before my handstands and set up the mat against the wall because I like the cushy cushion for my bony arms. Then I was then doing my handstands on the mat. My body (my brain?) no likey, Apparently, I gain a strong sense of grounding and support by having my hands *directly* on the wood floor. Take that away, and my confidence evaporates. I've developed an aversion to the mat - at least for that pose.

I'm not sure this is necessarily a negative thing. I recently read an article about a movement to discourage the use of mats in Ashtanga yoga. In the youth classes I teach, we don't use mats at all. The only time I really miss them is when rolling out of Sarvangasana (ouch. my vertabrae!) and for Pinchamayurasana (ouch, my bony arms). Otherwise, the wood floor is fine. I get more than enough grip with my feet and there's a tremendous sense of strength and grounding, having my feet on a hard, solid surface.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Manduka for all the various reasons that the Manduka is loveable. But I wonder if there's something to be gained by practising without a mat. Would anything be lost?

It was a hoax!

For those of you who don't read the comments - the article on about not using mats was apparently an April Fool's hoax and a quite extraordinary one at that. Obviously, I completely swallowed it, hook line and sinker.

It is not a hoax!
Though we wish it was. As of 12 a.m. this morning, without any notice or fanfare the transit workers in my city went on strike. No subways, buses or streetcars are running. Fuckity fuck, fuck.


roselil said...

Ha ha! The not using mat article was an April's Fool ...

Kaivalya said...

roselil: That's absolutely hilarious and a subtly effective April Fools spoof. Needless to say, I was totally fooled!

And it's particulary funny because that idea (no mat) had been chasing around my head for about a month when I saw that article, so I had an instant 'ah!' moment and bookmarked it.

When I first started practising yoga in the early 90s, mats were hard to find. I bought my first sticky mat via mail order, as advertised in the back of yoga journal. Before that, I just practised on the floor - for over a year, as I recall.

I'm wondering about the experiences of other long-time practitioners. Were mats available when you first started yoga?