In an act of self-preservation, I followed my destiny and ended up at Alaric’s home studio for a second week in a row, breaking my own rules of the challenge. As I mentioned previously, pranayama has helped me a tremendous amount recently in creating space in my torso for the inflammation in the pancreas and liver; to have the direction and time to understand what structures in the body help to manage the breath and the shape of the diaphragm is very valuable to me personally, and as a teacher. Since Archway is not a convenient location and I happen to get a lot out of the asana practice following the pranayama, today it was my daily practice.
During these weeks of attending many classes, the thing that has captured my attention more than the asana class is the creative framework each individual teacher places around the practice. Today, for example, we explored the idea of ‘attentive humility’. To put this into context, it was discussed that in life, as much as we may try, we will never ultimately control the breath or the mind, yet the two have a profound affect on our overall happiness. Through asana practice, we can approach this management over mind and breath through the body and ultimately gain an understanding of how the breath impacts our thoughts, words and actions. We can liken it to a retraining that requires attentive humility. Rather than exercising a humility that is punitive or serious in tone, however, we can find a kind, gentle and compassionate approach as well. One way of staying mindful in our practice is to notice when we are straining in the pranayama or asana practice. When this happens, it is time to return to a neutralizing posture, lest we send the wrong message to the mind/body, possibly ceasing to practice at all as a result. Practice should be sustainable and applicable to life. It is always good to return to any activity performed regularly to ask ‘why’, whether it is a job, a relationship or a physical pursuit.
On that note, this will be the last post for the Yoga Challenge, 2013. During the next 6 months, every month I will travel to a new studio to attend class with a teacher I’ve not yet met, and update you along the way. But for now, it is time to get back to my self-practice and writing about things more esoteric in nature (or not). I will be posting a summary of the highlights of the month and learnings from this little experiment over the next week, and enjoying the freedom to get back to reading a large stack of yoga and Rolfing related texts that have been long neglected.
See you on the mat!