Monday, April 30, 2012

Just Enough

It was a full weekend.  

It was a teacher training weekend.  My community class went well.  People played with pasasana without getting too hung up on getting into the fullest expression of it, which was my goal.  One aspect of teaching the community classes is that we spend about five minutes at the end giving and getting constructive feedback.  It is a very helpful thing and something rarely encountered.  It is lovely when people tell me that they enjoyed my class but I really need to know what wasn't working and why.  So it was good to hear not just the likes but the dislikes.  

After my class, a seasoned teacher came in and we explored how to teach advanced asana, which in this case meant two hours of inversions.  I freely admit that I do not love inversions mainly because they are difficult for me.  I am a late-comer to them so I am still very much working with my fears about being upside down.  Plus, doing two hours of inversions right after lunch of disgusting.  Then we moved right into arm balances.  There are people who love inversions and arm balances (they always seem to love them both) and then, there is me.  It is good to notice the stories that come up when revealing my weaknesses in public.  Yes, good to notice and then move along.

Sunday, I skipped the morning teacher training session since it was information I had already studied several times and helped out with our Zen Kids program.

The program is almost a year old now.  We have a great core group of 3 −5 year olds and Lucy joins us to help out.  We have quickly learned that we need to be able to let go of our well-laid plans at any moment if that is the way things are going.  The kids are our teachers.  I think the program has really cultivated a welcoming atmosphere for families with smaller children.  When I started coming, I felt rather alone in having younger children.  I understood that sitting zazen isn't really a family-friendly activity but it felt like something was missing.  So it is wonderful that there is this acknowledgement that the sangha includes the whole family.  And it is very fun to have little ones around the Temple.  Adults aren't always so interesting, you know?

Finally, I am pleased to share that I am now officially doing the complete primary series in my mysore practice.  I had been doing the wholes series with a previous teacher but when I switched teachers, the new ones (they work as a pair) put me back to navasana, which is considered half-way through the series.  I was a bit insulted to be honest.  It was a test of my ego and a lesson in humility.  Let me tell you, I didn't go quietly into the night.  I struggled and resisted and got pissed off.  They let me stew in it and they kept me at navasana for a good, long time.  Slowly, I got one more asana.  Then another.  At a certain point, I found myself feeling content: it felt like just enough.  I didn't want or need anything else.  My cup felt full.  Of course, just as that happened, they gave me the rest of the series rather quickly, including the last asana - setu bandhasana - today.

Photo of Finnish practioner, Petri Raisanan, in setu bandhasana from here.  He is making it look very pleasant and easy, which has not been my experience in it at all.
I have mixed feelings about this asana.  I am not convinced it is so great for necks over 40.  I have heard that David Williams does not teach it any more because he feels it isn't a safe asana.  It is hard to say.  So many things that I have feared or filled me with dread, I have come to appreciate over time (hello, drop backs, I am speaking to you), so perhaps that is the case here too.

How much is just enough?


deborah said...

Have you read William Broad's, "The Science of Yoga." He has much to say about yoga, backbends and neck issues.

Robyn said...

Hi Deborah, I haven't read that book. It generated such controversy, and the author seems to have fed into that controversy in a way that makes me a little suspicious of his motives, that I am a little reluctant to read it. Do you recommend it?

The woman running the teacher training - a long time ashtangi - is very against setu bandhasana as well as matsyasana in the finishing sequence. She has had a neck injury from them. While my teachers say they have never seen anyone get injured in those postures, I wonder about the long-term safety of them.

Of course, I can choose to skip S-B but then I will not move on to the second series....but is that just another ego problem? Oh my, it does get complicated!

I would love to know if you recommend that book, however, so do tell!