The New Moon, 9 Obstacles, and more. Yoga blog post 1/2012
The new moon is a time for new beginnings and also for reflection. Ashtanga Yogi’s don’t practice on the full or new moon in accordance with honoring nature and the moon’s affect upon us. It’s Sunday evening here, 7:30pm and I’ve just arrived home from a long, fruitful day.
Led Practice with Sharath at 6am, then a dosa & tea for breakfast and then headed over to the 10am conference. Today, a very special documentary was shown to over 400 Ashtanga yogi’s who are here practicing at the Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois Yoga Shala. This documentary was an idea had by a long time student on Jan 29th.. on Jan 30th with the help of some friends they began planning it out and on Jan 31st they began to shoot! On January 13th the documentary was finished and today shown to us! One thing I adore about Ashtanga yogi’s is our ability to GET THINGS DONE! Here is the link that not only has a preview of the movie, (and a $4.99 link to actually purchase it and view it which i HIGHLY RECOMMEND), but the person who’s website this link is on also blogged about the conference, so rather than me doing it again, you can go to this site and see many pictures that were taken today as well as the blog re: conference and view the video which is about 25 min. long. I hope you enjoy!
Sharaths Conference Mysore Magic
On to Surrender. Surrender: This is a tough one for Westerners. We like to think we have control, we have say, we are in the driver’s seat. In many ways we do and we are but how much longer do we want to “fight” with what is? How much do we want to struggle and try to swim upstream? When we finally decide we want to live calm, peaceful days, and truly let go of “clinging & gripping”; physically, mentally, and/or emotionally, we know we must simply practice surrender. In this surrendering and letting go comes a softness, a suppleness, an ease and a grace. An allowance for energy to move and pass through rather than getting ‘held’ or ‘stuck’. For aspiring yogi’s, it is the only way. After all, this is ALL daily practice of letting go to prepare us for the final ‘let go’ in death.
India luckily affords us MANY opportunities to let go and surrender. There is no place I have ever been that offers such extreme beauty and for lack of a better word.. “lack of beauty” all blended into one. Everyday is a challenge and therefore a blessing. Loud sounds of horns constantly beeping, dogs barking all day long, men hocking up phlegm from their throats and spitting it in the street, the intense sun beating down all day, crowds of people, poop everywhere! the smell of burning garbage & plastic, cigarette smoke, urine & did i mention poop???! But then there’s the sound of children’s laughter, temple bells ringing, mantra’s playing through the windows, the rich smell of jasmine flowers & beautiful incense, the tantilizing smell of delicious chai…. all of this within walking 10 steps! The current (electricity) goes out multiple times a day, the rickshaw drivers, for the most part, are always trying to rip the Westerners off so we are always putting our foot down with them, the pollution is scary, sometimes we have no hot water, we wash our clothes in the same bucket we use to bathe in, the list goes on…. You either have to just relax and accept and embrace all of this and find beauty in the seeming chaos, or, you’ll jump on a plane and travel back home! This is why I love it here so much…because it tests you in every way possible. It tests how much you’re able to let go, how uncomfortable can you be? how vulnerable can you be? how much can you change your perspective and find the beauty and fun in it all?
On the way home from the temple tonight (which I’ll get to telling you about in a moment) I was riding in the front seat of the car and my 2 girl friends were in the back.. I looked at our sweet driver and i said “Raju, driving a car in India is like being in a video game… except it’s real!” He moved his head back and forth, smiling and laughing.. “yes, madame.” As I was getting into the car at the temple I yelled “shotgun!” and Raju just looked at me like I was (am) crazy.. I explained what shotgun means.. again, he smiled. That’s just it.. you have to take what you have and make the best of it. I love making the people smile and they do the same for me in return. It’s not always going to be pretty, perfect, comfortable, up to our standards… but the more we can learn to be comfortable in any and all situations the more we’ll be able to understand each other better. (there is a concept called Pratipaksha Bhavana which means the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective.) How can we even attempt to do this if we’re barely comfortable in our own settings and surroundings?
Living in the states and on Long Island even more so is like living in a fantasy land in many ways… so many people are living unlike most people in the world. We live with so many lavish luxuries and the “standards” of what’s expected to “keep up” are so high. I love coming here b/c it continues to break down all those ‘keep up standards’ in my mind and makes me realize that I really need so little to be happy. Healthy relationships, work that fulfils us and helps others, the ability to surrender to a higher power/something greater than us (so that we don’t walk around carrying a massive bag of burdens), and most of all, love. These are the things that are really important in life and you experience that here in so many ways.
If we look at how much time we spend during our days running on the hamster wheel, working our butts off all just to have those 2 (if we’re lucky) weekend days “off”.. spent running around doing tons of errands only to plop down on the couch Sunday night in a whirlwind of exhaustion, “ready” to do it all over again Monday morning. It’s insane if you ask me! I’ve been thinking a lot about this. If we could find it in ourselves to want & need less… buy and live in smaller homes with less land to take care of (landscaping bill!) and a much less mortgage payment, buy less clothes & shoes (must we constantly have the most “in style” fashion? who dictates this anyhow?!) , drive our cars until they don’t run anymore rather than buying or leasing a new one every 3.5 years, find less expensive restaurants to frequent & have more pot luck dinners with friends and family, support local farmers or start growing some of our own food b/c we’ll have more time to.. (you’ll see where I’m going with this), etc … have our kids play in the backyard instead of going to summer camps that cost over $5k??!!, Do we really need: an ipad, an ipod, an iphone, a macbook, a macbook air, a macbook desktop, a blackberry, mp3, 10 bikini’s, 4 pairs of UGG’s, etc etc etc… IF we choose to live our lives in a much simpler way, we wouldn’t have the insane “overhead” that we do and we’d be able to work less and SPEND MORE TIME DOING THE THINGS WE LOVE WITH THE PEOPLE WE LOVE BEFORE WE DIE. Walks in the park, picnics at the beach, coffee & tea time, dinner parties, time to do yoga everyday and meditate, time to work in a garden of our own, time to sing and dance.. just think about it.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a lot of nice things… this is not a judgement. I simply just want us all to look at the amount of time & money and then time again to make that money, in order to “attain” & then “upkeep” all of these “things”.. Just some real solid food for thought….
Next topic; Patanjali speaks of the 9 Obstacles that prevent us from enjoying mental clarity and therefore moving towards freedom & peace. They are:
Vyadhi = Physical illness/disease
Styana = depression, mental stagnation
Samsaya = Doubt, unsure
Pramada = haste, lack of fore site
Alasya = laziness, exhaustion
Avirati = overindulgence; excess use of senses, raga
Bhrantidharshana = illusion about one’s true self; distorted perception
Alabdhabhumikatva = failure to attain a goal & being upset about this
Anavasthitatvami = reaching the goal and then slipping from that place; regression
The interesting thing about the 9 obstacles is that they are ONLY seen as obstacles if we choose to view them that way. In other words, we’re in these physical bodies and things are going to happen to us no matter what. The more vulnerable we are to these interruptions, the more difficult it is to reach a state of Yoga. Sharath spoke a lot about Samsaya today (doubt) and the never ending “thinking” mind. He said if we’re always thinking, thinking and wondering and questioning… doubt will inevitably come. He suggested we try trusting and surrendering to: the style of yoga we’re practising, our teacher (Guru if you so choose), in this moment right now and everything as it is. With surrender comes a lightness and an ability to TRULY RECEIVE THE BLESSINGS & KNOWLEDGE (jnana) of the Guru. If there is any doubt inside of us, this ‘magic’ cannot be transmitted. This really hit home for me in a big way and I feel so grateful to have been in that room for conference today. I am so proud of Sharath and the job he is doing upholding the parampara.
During the later part of my day I was picked up to go to a temple near Chamundhi Hill with the girls. I had been to this temple back in 2004 on my first trip to Mysore but it was duing the evening and the gardens were closed. There are really no words for me to describe this experience to you, nor shall I even try. Instead, I was given permission, despite what all the signs said, to take pictures… I hope you enjoy them and get a feel for the beauty & magic that was there. There is nothing better than spending a significant amount of time in a temple; the peace and beauty and joy that was exuding there tonight still lingers with me now….