Monday, March 05, 2012

An Asana Addict Confesses

TKV Desikachar
This past weekend was our first 500-hr yoga teacher training weekends.  They will continue, about every other weekend, for the next year.  The decision to take more training came out of my experiences teaching.  Not to put too fine a point on it but I really felt like I had no idea what I was doing.  It is fine to teach people who are generally fit and in good health but, truthfully, those students are pretty rare.  Most people have some health issues that need addressing and I continually felt unprepared.  What was the purpose of leading them through some sequence of postures that they could not really do (and probably should not be doing)?  Where was the benefit?  

Also I struggled with the distance between the subtle and profound teaching of the Yoga Sutra and my pathetic 200-hr certification.  I mean, if I heard of someone teaching Zen with 200-hours of training, I would laugh out loud.  Get real!  So, why is yoga any different?  Krishnamacharya, the founder of the lineage that I am training in, had the equivalent of six Ph.Ds and decades of teaching experience.  I know that 300 more hours of training won't change things that much, but it is a start.

I chose to train with Guta Hedewig in the Desikachar tradition (TKV Desikachar was Krishnamcharya's second eldest son).  I think this tradition of yoga is the closest to what Krishnamachrya himself taught and it embraces yoga as something far more than just asana practice.  In fact, asana is a tiny piece of the whole picture and classes in the Desikachar tradition usually include, as a matter of course, chanting, asana, pranayama and meditation.  As a devoted ashtanga practitioner, some of what I am embracing goes exactly against what my own practice has become.  And it hurts!  Like an alcoholic who can not imagine life without booze, at the moment, I can not imagine life without my ashtanga practice.  Guta designed a daily practice for me, which (surprise) includes chanting, asana, and pranayama (she knows have my own meditation practice).  

It has made me crazy.  I need my ashtanga fix.

I don't know how long I can pretend to do both.  Guta, who did ashtanga for almost 20 years, told me that it took her years to quit ashtanga "happily".  And that's the key.  It must happen happily.  I guess I will keep juggling the two until I find my own key that will allow me to back away from my asana addiction happily.

Meanwhile, I have most of the first two chapters of the Yoga Sutra to memorize as chants, along with all the traditional vinyasa for getting in and out of the classical postures, and all the pranayama techniques and....

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