and Tantric philosophy....
07.11.2009 27 °C
I started the teacher training course with Ajay on Tuesday this week. It is not a full-on course to teach all aspects of Ashtanga as it is only one month. It is a very neat introduction and application of the adjustments that can be used when teaching a Mysore style Primary Series class. Technically we are learning 'Ashtanga Vinyasa'. This week Ajay wanted to go through the basics of Yoga philosophy for those who were newer to it. As well as that we covered Sanskrit counting and we have been practicing a lot of relevant chants and Ajay really takes the time to go through them all and explain why these are so important. Theres ten of us and we sit in a circle and we've had some great discussions. Its such a big, huge massive subject but Ajay is very articulate and organized and went through the eight limbs succinctly- but in considerable depth if that makes sense. One thing that really stands out to me is the importance of small actions. We were having this long talk relating to karma, and the 'butterfly effect' in a sense. The importance of showering before and after practice for example. The importance of intention.
When it comes to karmic issues I get a little overwhelmed. Maybe its my Gemini moon but I can see cases for so many ways of looking at it. If you get obsessed with it as a Westerner there's a very real danger of developing a Catholic guilt mentality- feeling like you are constantly walking through a minefield. Its not about value judgements- this is the subtle difference. Its not about good or evil as such, but simply about consequence. And intention. Intention. Theres a case for vegetarianism. But people who are vegetarian are generally OK with milk and cheese. So is it less cruel to keep a cow in a battery, standing in its own shit, constantly hormonal and pumped full of antibiotics as its so full of disease than just killing a calf for food? You can pull anything apart if you look at it in a utilitarian way, but the act of vegetarianism for most, of avoiding meat, is a symbol of ahimsa.
I can't help but think that a lot of dietary guidelines to do with religion often come from a practical, rather than a spiritual base. Like Jews following kosher- a way of avoiding food poisoning in the desert but really, does God really care if you have cream pepper sauce with your steak two thousand years on? Anyway, I digress. Sometimes people can get obsessed with the finer details of things and lose sight of what they're actually trying to do... We spent a long time om the Yamas and Niyamas- the ten commandments of Yoga. They relate to how you conduct yourself in the world and are the bais of all physical practice. In the Tree of Yoga Iyengar emphasizes that the very very first step in the entire practice of Yoga is 'ahimsa'- non harming. This can be interpreted in so many ways but to me it means that you start your Yoga practice by looking at your relationships and doing the very best you can to not be obnoxious and hurt people. Because theres a million ways to hurt people. And that comes way before headstand.
Also the Yamas and Niyamas , when mindfully observed will create new neural pathways and the oppurtunity to change. Start by making small changes and all will follow. You can't expect miracles straight away. But you can exercise patience. You can apply yourself to something.
I'm very happy to be doing the course- we are going to be starting the adjustment techniques next week, as well as Yoga Sutra lessons. My practice was held up this week by a really sore neck, I don't know how I did it, my necks usually pretty good. So I had Monday and Tuesday off and have been taking it gently and proceeding with great caution in backbending... Theres some new people who have just come to do the course, a bunch of girls from Thailand who have studied with Ajay before, a beautiful Parisian dancer, Beri, Anna from Australia. Its a nice mix of people.
Its been raining quite a bit here and the weather is finally cooling down too. Its nice being able to wear jeans without melting. Claire has been telling me about the joy of the local beauty parlours- you can get a full leg wax here for 190 Rupees!!! Excellent. As my energy levels are good again I've been getting out a bit more. The other night Dorothea and Beri cooked French crepes for dinner and a bunch of us sat around eating them by candlelight. Then last night we went to the Green Hotel for dinner- its a local place that is one of the old palaces, built for Princesses. It is so beautiful. So atmospheric, all whitewashed walls and massive shutters and gardens. It is run by a company that give all the profits to charity and it is gorgeus. We had some really good food, I had Palak Paneer (spinach and cheese) as I am obsessed by it this week, and veg pulao. And we were there quite late, entertained by Dorothea- she's had more sexual harassment here than any of us! From, like, ten year olds on bicycles!!!! You can also get wine at Greens but I'm back on the wagon, Ajay asked us to pay attention to out health while we wer doing the course. So I'm drinking fresh lemon sodas only. I have no plans to quit coffee anytime soon though, I thought about it, but no... Though I have stopped buying Indian ghee sweets every single day!!!
I've nearly finished my Frawley book on Tantra Yoga. Its so excellent- he explains the whole Samkhya system- the root philosophy of Tantra- very succinctly. The doshas of Ayurveda originate here and he goes through all the different types of energies and pranas that the system of Yoga uses as a system of classification. Through the study and understanding of these it becomes easier to understand the logic of asana-posture- and what we are trying to do through our physical practice. And asana translates as 'seat' and thats all physical practice is- its not the Yoga. Its one step to take, one thing to go through, to overcome. It seems the more I read the less I know, and the more I realize that I haven't really started to practice Yoga yet. I'm still jumping around the foothills with a map, asking anyone who looks like they might know the way for directions...
Beats mortgage advising though...