Saturday, March 05, 2016

Loosen Up Already

Recently, I started working with Elizabeth Cunningham-Bossart, who is the Ayurvedic doctor who lead our third module of yoga therapy training.  Around the time that Senjin was actively dying and I was cracking teeth from the stress of it all, I thought that maybe I needed a little extra help.  She spent about two-hours asking me a lot personal questions (Ayurveda is very interested in your poop!) and then she gave me some recommendations for lifestyle changes, things to eat, things not to eat and a few other things like herbs, etc..

Some of what she suggested was easily added to my daily routine and some was a little more challenging.  For one, she wasn't too keen on coffee drinking.  Personally, I subscribe to what Pattabhi Jois is supposed to have said, "No coffee, no prāna."  In fact, I especially love a nice cup of coffee after I finish my Ashtanga mysore practice.  She wasn't so keen on my Ashtanga mysore practice either.  Both the coffee and the Ashtanga are vāta aggravating, which knocks my pitta out of balance.  Got that?

The long and short of it seemed to be that movement is good for my kapha (I am almost tri-dośic, meaning having almost equal amounts of all three of the main dośa-s but that annoying pitta wants to be in charge, as any good pitta worth its salt would!) but she wanted it to include some unstructured dance.  Apparently my leaning towards Ashtanga and ballet further revealed my pitta nature's need to control.  Hey, I like a few rules so that my vāta nature can break them.  (Are you getting all this?)  And this is how I came to be in a room yesterday evening with about 50 other people for my first experience of 5Rhythms.

I gave myself permission to do some things (jeez, more pitta) so that the possibility of having a good experience would increase.  I allowed myself to: 1. suspend judgement.  I knew there would be a fair amount of writhing and whatnot that normally would have me cringing and running in the opposite direction.  So - suspend judgement.  2.  Allow myself to have thoughts about looking good or bad  (possibly related to suspending judgement).   I thought that I had to allow myself to just have those thoughts - not necessarily get caught up in them -  but also not scold myself for having them.  And 3. I told myself that it would be okay to keep my eyes lowered.  I thought that I might find it too hard to maintain #1 if I spent much time watching other people in the room.

Was there writhing?  You betcha.  Did I think, "I am the greatest 5Rhythms dancer ever!" and "this is horrible, get me the hell out of here pronto!"?  Yes and yes.  Did I occasionally regret looking up?  Oh yes.  Let's face it, 5Rhythms is pretty high on the list (or should be) of Things White People Do and it is like shooting fish in a barrel, if one were of the inclination to mock it.  But you know what?  For all its being whoo-whoo and kind of pseudo-spiritual, it was fun.  I did find a kind of freedom and release in just moving around without any rules and without having to be doing anything specific or engaging with anyone else.  It turns out that dancing in a roomful of strangers for two hours is pretty liberating.  And did I mention that it is fun?  My vāta, pitta and kapha also approved.

Sometimes it is ok - or even more than ok - to do things that might make you cringe.  I mean, so what if we all looked totally absurd?  Looking absurd and having fun sounds a lot better than standing stiffly on the sidelines making snarky remarks.  And I say this as a world class expert at standing stiffly on the sidelines making really excellent snarky remarks.



Jan Morrison said...

Sometimes I lead the clients at our treatment centre is weird movements that I call by one of two names - Fake Yoga, or Ellen Dancing. True.

Robyn said...

That's funny! One of my yoga teachers once said about vedic chanting "You have to be willing to look a little like a jerk." She meant that to really do the correct pronunciation, you have to use your mouth - really open and close it and make shapes with it. I think of that every time I chant now!

As for the dancing, it was just good to look silly and genuinely not care. Maybe for the first time in my life. It's like I was carrying around these suitcases labelled with my ideas about myself and it turns out that they were all empty.

Jan Morrison said...

Oh l love your suitcase metaphor. Perhaps it could be the seed of an installation?

Robyn said...

Oh my, yes! Or performance, dare I say?