Sunday, August 22, 2010

Astanga

I think that mean security guard from yesterday sent me some bad voo doo because it’s been raining on me all day!

I arrived at DR’s morning workshop 10 minutes late and dripping like a drowned rat because it was literally *pouring* as I biked to the Festival. I had to stop a few times because it was coming down so hard!

The rain stopped for a while, but as soon as I hopped on my bike to ride home the skies opened up again.

Each time I rode somewhere to teach, the showers started. As soon as I arrived at my destination, they stopped. Four sets of clothes are drying over the bathtub and I’m just grateful to be inside. But, of course, it’s perfectly lovely out now! Blue skies! *eyeroll*

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I used my new radiator for practice this morning and I love it! I just need to find a way to put it on a timer so it can heat up before I wake up. It’s quite small, but perfectly adequate for bringing the temperature of the room up to shala levels. And it’s so quiet! It just sits there being warm without making a sound.

It would be *perfect* if it also gave adjustments but I can’t have everything, can I? ;-)

I had a nice practice. I started to feel tired and distracted during the Marichyasanas, but this often happens on mornings when I haven’t done the full Primary Series the day before; I lose my momentum a little bit. When this happened at the Shala I would just keep breathing and move through it. At home, it’s definitely easier to pause and seek out a distraction (and there are so many to choose from, starting with Princess Fur).

This morning, I chose not to not allow my attention to wander, but I was very aware that it was a choice. I guess it always is, but in the Shala, I know teachers are watching so there’s an external motivation to maintain concentration. At home, I have to rely on myself.

Backbends were okay, not great. I did my three dropbacks but I didn’t spend a lot of time rocking because I was pressed for time. Even though the dropbacks were not fabulous, they were not scary or difficult either, which is amazing in itself! Each time I drop back, I’m still in awe that I can do it. On the days that I find joy in it, I’m astonished that I so thoroughly enjoy something that used to frighten me and bring tears.

Even if I don’t stand up from a backbend this summer, I’m happy and grateful that I learned to drop back. This process has been such a great learning experience. It’s given me confidence in my ability to guide my own practice and to motivate myself.

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Fivefootwo asked about altars the other day on her blog and I responded in her comments with some thoughts about my own altar. I promised her I would post some photos here.

An altar is such a personal, special thing. The last time I wrote about this topic (on an old blog) a shitstorm erupted in my comments section. So I feel a need to say this: there’s no right or wrong or good or bad when it comes to an altar. There are many different spiritual paths out there. They’re all valid and they all lead more-or-less to the same place. Whatever ‘party favours’ you choose to bring (or not bring) to your own ‘spiritual fete’ are absolutely fine.

This is what resonates with me. Meet Buddha and my Spiritual Posse!

The Posse includes Hanuman, Shiva, Ganesha, and Durga.

Guruji is there, of course. He hangs with the Posse and they all share a candle in the morning.

The tapestry covering the altar is from Pondicherry, a gift from a sweet friend. The Tibetan singing bowl was also a gift. The small wooden box is Hawaiian Koa Wood. It was given to me by a woman who was like a mother to me when I was young. She’s gone now, but her spirit lives with me always.

I’ve filled my Koa box with small, symbolic reminders of significant people and events of my life. Until I came to this city, my life was very scattered because I moved around so much. This box has helped me gather the bits of my life together. Sometimes, when a close friend visits, I let them choose an item from the box and I tell the story of it.

I have two Malas: The everyday Tibetan rosewood one I wear on my left wrist and a special Tiger’s Eye Mala which I only use when I’m sitting for meditation. I keep my special Mala on the altar with the Buddha. There is also a small collection of gemstones (Boodi spurred my interest in these a couple months ago).

The little prayer flags are a gift from a longtime student - they come from Nepal. One of my sisters gave me the little plaque on the left when I was 10 - it pictures a sailboat at sunset and has a quote from one of my favourite Richard Bach books, ‘Illusions’.

An original mixed-media piece by artist Monica Aebischer hangs further up the wall, outside of the photo. I fell in love with this piece while working at a gallery during my YTT year and I saved for months to buy it. It depicts a faceless person in meditation, gently holding a golden bowl in cupped hands.

In the morning, as I’m practisting, this is what I see:


3 comments:

BP said...

Can you tell me what model heater you bought?
Merci!
B

fivefootwo.com said...

Thank you, Thank you! I chose a space near the corner of the room as well. I will post a photo once I'm done. I'm off to search your archives for the so called "sh*tstorm"..

Kaivalya said...

@BP
It's a 550 Watt Mini Oil-filled Heater. Not fancy, though it does have a thermostat. It works well for a small room. A larger room might require a bigger heater with more wattage.

@fivefootwo
Oh, you won't find the 'sh*tstorm' on this blog. It was on another blog of mine, a long time ago. It was my first life lesson in the perils of sharing yoga-related stuff with non-yoga people.