“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Over the past 24 hours-and-a-bit, my emotions and thoughts have meandered all over the map.
I really value the support, the wisdom and the encouragement in the comments. I don’t say it enough, but I appreciate all of you who read this. My blog started as more of a personal journal. I never thought anyone would pay much attention to a skeptics journey through Astanga, especially other Ashtanga practitioners. I never imagined how many dear friends I would find doing this. And I didn’t think I would ever come to love the practice this much.
But I do. And today I realised that my practice has been the glue holding me together over these past few months. I’ve gone through some major upheaval in my personal life, but I never felt shattered because there was always a chance to renew myself and feel whole again on my Manduka. Every morning. I need my practice.
Last night, I did something I rarely do: I took a sleeping aid so I could get some deep rest, 10 hours worth. In the morning, my head was clear and I felt better but I was on a rollercoaster. By lunchtime, I was feeling depressed and despairing again. In the late afternoon, I actually checked the price for drop-ins at Shala North. The thought of going to Shala Central in the morning made me desperately anxious.
After I taught my last class of the day, I unrolled my mat and did a cursory Moon Day practice, just the sun salutations and the standing poses to keep the joints lubricated. As I moved through them, I could literally recount every careful instruction, adjustment and vinyasa clarification that had shaped each pose. Even in the standing poses, not a single one has been untouched by my teachers. I may have come into their Shala with a nearly complete Primary Series, but thanks to them, I have an entirely different practice now than the one I arrived with; it’s immeasurably better.
I owe it to them to stick this out and find a compromise.
This is what I know:
- I’m *not* ready to stand up from a backbend yet. My Urdhva Dhanurasana isn’t deep enough and I haven’t yet developed the physical co-ordination necessary to come up by myself or even with determined assistance.
- I work very, VERY hard in my practice. I have a dedicated six-day practice and I literally *never* miss a day. I’m NOT a lazy student.
- I enjoy practising the Primary Series. My Primary is far from perfect - there’s lots of work to do! This could keep me busy for awhile. It’s not urgent that I move on to Intermediate Series right away.
- Many aspects of the practice come very naturally to me. Backbending isn’t one of them. If I’m going to learn to stand up and drop back, I need lots of help and guidance from my teachers.
- I don’t respond well to negative pressure and disapproval. I respond *very* well to patience and encouragement.
- I need to love my practice again. I need to find a way to trust my teachers again.
So here’s the plan: Tomorrow, I’m putting on my Big Girl Ashtangi Pants and going to the Shala, early. Hopefully, I’ll be able to talk to one or both teachers before I start my practice. I’ll request that my backbending be limited to Urdhva Dhanurasana from the floor for now (walking the hands in to develop a deeper backbend and rocking to prepare for standing up). As soon as I’m able to rock forward into my feet and lift my hands off the floor, I’ll be ready for some assistance in coming up to standing. But not before.
I don’t want to rush this because it’s really freaking me out.
I’ll stick it out at Shala Central until the end of June. If I’m still feeling weird about being there, I can explore my options: returning to a home practice (Not my first choice. Yes, Susan and Patrick, you were right: it’s far better to practise with authorised teachers) or making the epic schlep to Shala North (It’s a long commute, but I know people who travel further and longer to study with their teachers).
I’m in this thing for the long haul, I just need to figure out where and how.