Arquivo da categoria: GEETA E PRASHANT S. IYENGAR

APROFUNDANDO A PRÁTICA DO YOGA

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(por Marcia Neves Pinto)

A reflexão do primeiro dia do intensivo para professores de Eyal Schifroni foi uma continuação da proposta da indagação diária de nossas motivações para a prática de yoga. O Prof. Eyal comenta que as técnicas de yoga são muito importantes, especialmente no método proposto por B. K. S. Iyengar, mas que temos que contextuá-las em todo esse arcabouço que forma a ciência, a arte e a filosofia do yoga.

Quando iniciamos a prática de yoga, é só mais uma forma de exercício, uma ginástica – exótica, mas é… Mas na medida em que progredimos, yoga vai se revelando muito mais do que práticas de posturas e respiração, vai se tornando uma forma de pensar, de agir, de viver. A maioria de nós começa estudando o corpo mas, em algum momento, passa a estudar a mente. Yoga, na verdade, é o estudo da mente, suas capacidades e limitações. O texto que lhe dá embasamento – os Yoga Sutras de Patañjali – é conhecido como um verdadeiro tratado de psicologia.

Há muita profundidade na prática dos yamas, niyamas, asanas e pranayama, se fazemos dela um laboratório de pesquisas de nós mesmos. A permanência nos asanas nos permite observar o corpo, a respiração, a mente e a relação entre eles.

Em Árvore da Vida, Guruji diz: “O corpo não pode ser separado da mente, nem a mente pode ser separada da alma.” E prossegue: “Se você, como principiante, observar o esforço envolvido na realização da postura e continuar observando-o à medida que progride, verá que esse esforço diminui a cada dia, embora o nível de realização do asana esteja melhorando. (…). Conforme vai trabalhando, você pode sentir desconforto por causa da imprecisão de sua postura. Para que isso não ocorra, você precisa aprendê-la e assimilá-la. Tem de fazer um esforço de entendimento e de observação. (…). O ioga requer análise durante a ação.”

“A mente age como uma ponte entre o movimento muscular e a ação dos órgãos de percepção, introduzindo o intelecto e ligando-o a todas as partes do corpo – fibras, tecidos e células (…), surgindo uma nova percepção. Observamos com atenção e lembramos a sensação da ação. Discriminamos com a mente. A mente discriminativa observa e analisa a sensação das diversas partes do corpo. “Finalmente, quando existe uma sensação total da ação sem quaisquer flutuações do alongamento, então a ação cognitiva, a ação mental e a ação reflexiva se reúnem todas para compor a conscientização plena (…). Essa é a prática espiritual do ioga.”

Quando a postura se torna contemplativa, atingimos o estado mais elevado de contemplação no asana, o que envolve a integração do corpo, da respiração, dos sentidos, da mente, da inteligência (ou do conhecimento) e do Eu com a totalidade da existência. Patañjali diz que, quando um asana é realizado corretamente, as dualidades entre corpo e mente, mente e alma, desaparecem. Isso é conhecido como repouso na permanência, reflexão durante a ação.

Diz Guruji: “Há dois tipos de prática de ioga. Quando você está totalmente envolvido, sem o reflexo de impressões passadas, ajustando-se e agindo passo a passo rumo à perfeição e à precisão, ele se torna espiritual. Se você estiver oscilando, se sua mente estiver divagando ou existir uma diferença entre você, seu corpo, sua mente e seus pensamentos, então esse ioga é sensual, embora o esteja praticando sob a designação de espiritual.

Voltamos, então, à segunda proposta de indagação pessoal diária, que se traduz na análise do modo como estabelecemos nossa prática de yoga, cabendo examinar o seguinte tripé para poder responder a esta questão: (1) intenção, (2) atitude e (3) aplicação. A intenção tem a ver com as razões pelas quais praticamos, com o que queremos obter por meio da prática, aferindo se estas intenções guardam sintonia com a meta do yoga, yoga citta vrtti nirodhah (I.2). Isto é, nossa prática está na direção da estabilização da nossa mente, na pacificação da torrente incessante de pensamentos que nos assomam? Ou nossa prática tem outros motivos ocultos, tais como poder, beleza, fonte de sustento, flexibilidade? É importante manter uma intenção correta e pura no caminho do yoga.

A atitude guarda relação com a forma como nos aproximamos da prática. É preciso notar que há uma diferença entre praticarmos em um grupo e praticarmos sozinhos: em grupo, além da interação com outros, abre-se espaço para a comparação, competição, vaidade, orgulho, e podemos observar nossa tendência à necessidade de aprovação, de impressionar os outros e até mesmo de nos sentirmos inferiorizados em relação aos outros (ou o contrário…). Por outro lado, quando praticamos sós, nossas tendências emocionais vêm à tona: indisciplina, impaciência, agressividade, preguiça, acomodação. É um outro terreno de observação: como nossa mente opera quando ninguém está olhando. E em yoga temos que aprender a nos desidentificarmos com a mente para observar a mente como objeto.

“Asana quer dizer postura, que é a arte de posicionar o corpo todo com uma certa atitude física, mental e espiritual. As posturas têm dois aspectos: a permanência e o repouso. A permanência implica ação (…). Repousar significa refletir sobre a postura. A postura é repensada e reajustada, para que os vários membros e segmentos corporais sejam posicionados em seus devidos lugares na ordem certa, e a sensação seja de descanso e apaziguamento, enquanto a mente experimenta a tranquilidade e a calma dos ossos, das articulações, dos músculos, das fibras, das células. (…)

Quando essa sensibilidade está igualmente em contato com o corpo, a mente e a alma, entramos em estado de contemplação ou meditação, conhecido como asana. As dualidades entre corpo e mente, mente e alma, são vencidas ou destruídas.”

Mas a atitude tem ainda relação com outras indagações:

  • Praticamos por praticar ou para aprender? Prashant Iyengar costuma dizer que não saímos da prática do fazer, quando deveríamos adotar a cultura de praticar para aprender.
  • Praticamos com a mente aberta ou dogmaticamente? Geeta Iyengar diz que a maturidade em yoga é saber que também há outros sistemas, valorá-los, assim como à sabedoria existente neles.” Há muitas maneiras corretas (evidente que há também as incorretas). O estudo é, justamente, a exploração, a investigação, o uso da sensibilidade, contraposto à possibilidade da prática mecânica, automática.

Por fim, a aplicação se refere a como aplicamos o conhecimento obtido com a prática de yoga por meio da técnica, do exame da intenção e da atitude. Significa dizer, aferir de conseguimos tornar esse conhecimento em habilidade de praticar de maneira correta. Se sabemos como praticar quando temos uma lesão, como deveria ser a prática pela manhã e pela noite, ou se estamos cansados, deprimidos ou agitados. Enfim, se nosso conhecimento nos permite estabelecer uma prática correta diária contínua, não importa sob que circunstância nos encontremos em nossas vidas naquele dado momento.

Explica Guruji em Árvore no Ioga: “Se meu cérebro está cansado, faço halasana e recupero minha energia; se é meu corpo que está cansado, faço meio halasana e revigoro as células. Talvez vocês, mesmo cansados, façam posturas em pé. Já estão cansados e ainda se excedem no alongamento das posturas; naturalmente, ficarão ainda mais cansados. Vocês devem usar o bom senso: o que fazer, quanto fazer, quando fazer.”

A prática pessoal é muito importante porque é o momento em que nos encontramos conosco mesmos. A prática deve culminar, segundo Patañjali, no vislumbre da alma. Ao atingir esse estado, você desenvolve uma consciência madura conhecida como inteligência experiente ou madura, que não se abala, e você se torna um só com a essência do seu ser.

Diz Guruji, no mesmo livro: “Quando o corpo, a mente e os sentidos são limpos por tapas (zelo e autodisciplina baseados no desejo ardente), e quando o entendimento do eu foi atingido por meio de svadhyaya (autoexame), só então é que o indivíduo está apto para Isvara-pranidhana (entregar-se a Deus). Ele já anulou seu orgulho e desenvolveu humildade, e somente essa alma humilde é condizente com bhakti-marga, o caminho da devoção. Dessa maneira, percebemos que Patanjali não se esqueceu nem de karma-marga, o caminho da ação, nem de jñana-marga, o caminho do conhecimento, nem de bhakti-marga, o caminho da devoção.”

COMO RECONHECER A PERFEIÇÃO EM UM ASANA?

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(por Marcia Neves Pinto)

Hoje a aula do Prof. Senior Eyal Schifroni teve como fio condutor (sūtra) a estabilidade em um asana. 

No livro Mobility in Stability, Geeta S. Iyengar[1], diz que Patañjali nos deu a metodologia para alcançar a estabilidade e que a metodologia se encontra no sūtra I.12:

“abhyāsa vairāgyābhyāṁ tannirodhaḥ”

No sūtra seguinte Patañjali define que tipo de mobilidade se faz necessária:

“I.13 – tatra sthitau yatnaḥ abhyāsaḥ”

Esforço contínuo (yatha) e estável (sthitau) na prática dos oito aspectos do yoga até que se atinja o estado nirvṛttika

E o sūtra I.14 esclarece de que tipo de esforço se está falando: sa tu dīrghakāla nairantarya satkārāsevitaḥ dṛḍhabhūmiḥ, isto é, o processo contínuo e estável. Donde a prática (abhyāsa) precisa ser feita por um longo tempo, sem interrupções, com humildade e dedicação. Como praticantes de yoga temos que nos lembrar destas linhas em todos os momentos de nossas práticas, inclusive na prática dos āsanas: o āsana deve ser estável.

Estabilidade em um āsana não significa simplesmente congelarmos as ações físicas. Patañjali alude à estabilidade em um āsana no sūtra II.46, dizendo: sthira sukham āsanam, isto é, āsana é a perfeita firmeza do corpo, estabilidade da inteligência e benevolência do espírito. Assim, independentemente de qual āsana estamos praticando, ele deve ser feito com firmeza, estabilidade e empenho físico; boa vontade da inteligência mental; consciência e satisfação da inteligência do coração. Isto é como um āsana deveria ser entendido, praticado e experimentado. A prática de um āsana deveria nos nutrir e iluminar.

E, finalmente, nos perguntou o mestre:  como reconhecer a perfeição em um āsana? Ela é definida por Patañjali no sūtra II.47 como prayatnasaithilyānantasamāpattibhyām, isto é, a perfeição é obtida em um āsana quando o esforço para praticá-lo deixa de existir, isto é, quando a perseverança no esforço não é mais necessária, e o ser infinito é alcançado. A perseguição esforçada da perfeição não é mais necessária quando chegamos ao platô da estabilidade, a dizer, a mobilidade cessa porque alcançada a estabilidade na postura. Quando isso ocorre é porque o praticante atingiu um estado de equilíbrio, atenção, extensão, difusão e relaxamento simultâneos no corpo e na inteligência e estes se fundiram à alma, isto é, atingiu yoga.

 

[1] 1st Published 2012 by YOG, Mumbai, Índia.

THE ASANA SUTRAS AND AN UPDATE ON POST PUNE PRACTICE

The Asana Sutras and an Update on Post Pune Practice

http://teachingphilosophyandyoga.blogspot.com.br/2014/09/the-asana-sutras-and-update-on-post.html

2.46 sthira-sukham āsanam
Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit. (I)

Asana should be steady and comfortable. (B)

2.47 prayatna-śaithilyānanta-samāpattibhyām
Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached.

[Such posture  should be be attained] by the relaxation of effort and by absorption in the infinite (B).

2.48 tato dvandvānabhighātaḥ
From then on, the sadhaka is undisturbed by dualities. (I)

From this, one is not afflicted by the dualities of the opposites. (B)

I realize  I’ve not been blogging as much lately and that  I have  been going through padas  I and II quickly. Mostly, I have been posting chunks that are related to each other topic wise and not saying much about them.  Once I  get to Pada III  again, I’ll slow down because  I will have to start adding in the diacritical marks myself rather than copying and pasting from the work Jeff has done.  I was working a lot with Pada  III  before going to Pune, but took a break  from that while I was there.   It will be good to get back to that work of  learning new sutras.   Pada IV  I’ve worked with  not much at all.

Also, I have not felt all that inspired about writing about yoga philosophy lately.  Obviously, not having the daily dose of Prashant puts me in a different context,  but I’ve also been writing more  “regular”  philosophy.

(As an aside,  even though feeling inspired to write,  having a burning desire to say something, to express ideas that come to mind,  is  wonderful,  in the larger context,   I don’t think it really matters if one feels inspired to write or  study. One should still do it and that doing it is a large part of making the inspiration happen.  The muse has to know where to show up each day, so to speak)

Anyway,  I have however,  been doing a good bit of  asana  lately, so   here are some comments on  Asana  two months after two months in Pune.   I definitely have more  ease is some poses that have been ongoingly difficult for  me.  Twists,  particularly on the left side are  coming much better,  Padmasana is more accessible  and my backbends  are  quite a bit stronger.  All the groin work I’ve been doing has led me to the realization of how important the leg actions are in  backward bending and once I’ve been getting my legs (hamstrings,  buttock tailbone)  more involved  paired with more open front groins  that’s been taking a lot of the effort out of my wrists and shoulders.     Also, I’m more “interested” in practice.   it is  still  a challenge to do  as much yoga as I was  doing there,  but  I am managing  between 2 and 3 hours  plus morning pranayama and whatever I do teaching wise.

I feel like my life has been on a more  even keel  since  I came back from  Pune.  A bit more steadiness in practice,  a bit more   effortless effort  does seem to be leading to being  less  affected by duality. I also think I had a great deal of anxiety about the trip itself,  leaving for that long, the logistics of  travel  etc  and  that’s simply not there anymore  and happily some new  anxiety has not emerged in its place.

Yesterday in  Devon’s class  we did a lot of malasana at the  beginning of  class  some  AMS, AMVrk and  a long time in Sirsasana   (Parsva Sirsasana, and Parsvaikapada variations)  and a lot of versions of  B1  followed by M1  and  my M1  was about the best I’ve ever done.   I’ve been having a lot of  experiences of  “wow, that’s the best I’ve done that pose”  lately.   Of course other poses,  like the right side of Ardha Matysendrasana seems  still  awful, even though I got the most solid grip on my toe on the left side that I’ve ever gotten.   Sarvangasana felt  truly transcendent after all those  twists.

Another benefit of more focus on asana  is that I do find myself inspired about sequencing.  Sequences come to my mind.   I want to explore different relationships of poses and ways to work them and I’m eager to share those explorations with my students.

Posted by Anne-Marie Schultz at 6:09 AM

Labels: Life post Pune 2014, practice remains., Sutra study

PRASHANT ON TRUE BEING

Prashant on True Being

http://teachingphilosophyandyoga.blogspot.com.br/2014/07/prashant-on-true-being.html

“What if, in your sleep, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?”

~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

My old friend and former yoga student from Waco, Marie Martin, posted this as her Facebook Status today. Marie and her best friend, Pam, (another good friend and former yoga student), picked me up from Dallas on my return from India in 2007. (The sisterly pod had recently separated and Christina went onto Atlanta to meet up with Kelly and Mom and Dad who were still in Lavonia) and I waited for Marie and Pam to arrive. I was really alone for the first time in a month. An hour or so later, Marie and Pam swooped in from the outlet malls. I managed to stay awake long enough to crawl into the back of Pam’s Land Rover and fell sound asleep. 2.5 hours later I was in my house in Waco. They were both good friends to me at a very different and difficult time in my life.

Anyway, that seems like another lifetime ago. Almost another person ago.  Another I ago.  I hadn’t moved to Austin yet, hadn’t met Jeff, was still a cat person (3 – now I have 0) wasn’t a dog person, didn’t have Milo. Hadn’t finished my book. Wasn’t full professor, wasn’t director of BIC. Mom and Dad hadn’t moved to Texas. All these things about who I am have changed and yet there’s another level of me than has not, and still another beyond that that has nothing to do with all I call me at all. That’s the level of being Prashant evoked today. Being beyond being the I that we know and love so well.

Back in the world of the ego, (As Prashant talked about the ego, I got the impression that it is sort of like a very pesky and persistent fly that you can’t quite kill and just won’t leave well enough alone.) This time, I’ve travelled here with my beloved husband, Jeff.  I am so grateful that we shared this experience together. We will be returning to Austin, a city I love living in. No cats to worry about. Though occasionally I think I want one.  Ron is keeping Milo, and Mom and Dad will pick us up because they live in Austin and the flight gets in at a more or less reasonable time. Maybe we’ll at least be able to stay awake until we get to the house. Though with Austin rush hour traffic that might be harder than it sounds.

Anyway, Coleridge. Coleridge definitely had some insight into ultimate reality, probably not from the means of deep meditation, backbends or contemplating collective dynamics, but he was a pretty amazing poet with a pretty amazing drug habit. Both those aspects of his ego level of being enabled him to see to another level of reality, of being beyond the being of the I. I think he saw quite deeply into that reality of true being and struggled a lot with how to express the insights one gleams from that realm and how to express them in the language of this world. Anyway, I like that Marie posted the quote today on the eve of my return back to Pune. It has a nice temporal symmetry and it gets at the dynamic between the true essence of being and our attempts to grasp it which I took to be one of the major points of Prashant’s amazing class.

As we listened to his ending discourse on true being and the ego’s relentless attempt to make true being its own experience, Scott from Australia turned to me and said, “You are here for class tomorrow right?” I nodded. He said, “That would have been an amazing note to end on.” So true.

We started off in AMVrk. Prashant led us through some pretty intense backbends and we ended with another AMVrk (before doing a long Sarvangasana). He asked us to reflect on the difference in our experience of the first AMVrk and the last one.

Simply put, the level of ease and integration was palpable. It really did feel like the pose was being done to me or that I was the pose or that the pose was me or maybe collectively all of those ways of looking at it, where as the first AMVrk was very much an activity of I am doing the pose. I even think I’m doing the pose reasonable well and with integration and collective awareness particularly for 7:00 AM first pose post prayers. But I was very much doing it. I was my ego.

I was reminded of  Nietzsche’s formulation of this dynamic,

“‘the doer’ is merely a fiction added to the deed – the deed is everything.”

To edit Nietzsche slightly,  the doing is everything.

After Sarvangasana, he had us come closer and asked us if he had ever anywhere along the way given any instruction at all about how to do AMVrk more effectively. He then elaborated on all the numerous detailed things that an Iyengar Yoga teacher might say about how to improve AMVrk and said, did I do any of that. No. So how did that transformation take place? What brought about that change in our relationship in the doing and the being of and in the pose?

1 hour and 45 minutes of preparation. He said it can take that long if you only have two hours to practice to get 15 minutes of real yog.

Prashant then talked about the relationship between the ego and the true being. We are true being in those moments of integration, those moments of divine insight, those moments of deep sleep. Part of the trap of the ego, part of the trap of language also (two different traps) is to say or to think, “I had that experience.” It is not the I that feels cleansed and purified by such experiences of let’s call them moments of  transcendence for lack of a better term, plus I think Prashant actually used it.

He said, sure the ego can get cleansed to some degree,  but think of it like cleaning the toilet. Is the toilet, even when really clean like the cleanliness of the space of the meditation room? He elaborated on that metaphor for a while. It was reasonably hilarious. It also got me thinking about the value of humor in getting us to see beyond ourselves. He’s quite gifted at that as well. Nietzsche and Kierkegaard were masters of this use of humor as well.

In some of the Geeta interviews I’ve been reading, she talks about that nourishment of good sleep. It is where we touch the true self. I remember Rajiv Chanchani talking once about what feels so go to us about a good pranayama practice or a good savasana is that we get a break from the ego. We get a break from being who we inexorably are qua being who we are in ego-land. What is  it like, then, to come back with Coleridge’s flower?  Is that experience of true being the flower we come back with?

As wonderful as  Prashant’s metaphor of the toilet was, the most powerful part of the last part of his discourse today was what he said about the soul that experiences god. We do not experience God qua Hindu, qua Muslim, qua Jew, qua Christian. The soul does not partake in those distinctions. I think that’s what Paul is getting at in the saying “In Christ there is no male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free.” But this takes it one step further said; in God there is no specific religiosity. Prashant suggested that this is what even the most devout and tradition faithful of us truly want this experience of the true soul. Even the Pope, he said wants this.

For a variety of reasons, I am a close observer of the evangelical Christian world. Though I think Prashant is right,  I do wonder if this is in fact true for the felt experience of the average devout Christian. Maybe in the sense that it is what the Christian truly wants even if they are not aware of wanting it, but I think the average Evangelical or  any devout worshipper of God through the prism of a particular tradition get very attached to a particular vision of faith and sees the essence of the soul in those specific hues or tones that the prism reflects of the divine. Even as much as we might recognize along with Augustine, that we see through a glass darkly and never face to face, I suspect that a Christian expects to see a Christian face on the other side of that dark glass.

Be that as it may, Prashant is making clear that the yogic vision offers us a level of insight into the nature of God, the nature of the soul, the nature of the affinity between God and soul that is much deeper and more essential than those particular inflections of particular faith traditions.

A beautiful vision, the vision of yog.

I did manage to work up the courage to talk with Prashant after class. I asked him some questions I had about the body and reincarnation. My homework: ReadDiscourses on Yog.

Posted by Anne-Marie Schultz at 4:14 AM

Labels: #Pune2014

OUR LAST CLASS WITH PRASHANT SUMMER 2014

Our Last Class with Prashant Summer 2014

http://teachingphilosophyandyoga.blogspot.com.br/2014/07/our-last-class-with-prashant-summer-2014.html

Well, I’ve been avoiding sitting down to write the last post from Pune about Prashant’s class. But after the good bye lunch at Ambience and a couple hours of packing, and a bit of a rest, now’s the time.

I’m actually a bit more emotional about leaving than I expected to be. I almost cried leaving the practice hall. It was funny for the first 45 minutes or so, I actually forgot it was the last practice in the hall and was just practicing.

We decided not to stay all the way to the 31st for a variety of reasons but now I’m kind of wishing we decided to stay another 9 days. But that would have ended up being almost 10 weeks away from home with the travel days on either end and it was seeming like a lot of time to be away. And I’d just be feeling this way 9 days later.

On the plus side, we will get home in time for the Arun workshop in Austin and I love studying with him. I’m excited about seeing Mom and Dad and how they are doing and there’s Milo, the glorious golden retriever awaiting us as well. I started to get worried that he would not remember me and Jeff said, “Well, it really doesn’t matter. Think how happy he is seeing a random stranger who is willing to pet his belly.”

Anyway, enough about my state of mind and its various experiences of raga and dvesa.

2.07 sukha anusayi ragah
Pleasure leads to desire and emotional attachment. (I)

Attachment stems from [experiences] of happiness. (B)

2.08 duhkha anusayi dvesah
Unhappiness leads to hatred. (I)

Attachment stems from [experiences] of happiness. (B)

By the way, I can’t remember if I mentioned what the (I) and the (B) stand for. The I is Iyengar’s translation of the Sutras. The B is Edwin Bryant’s. I got the original transliteration without diacritical marks and the Iyengar translation from Leanne, a former BKS Dallas yoga person. She got it from a student of Mary and Eddy’s. I’ve been adding in the Edwin translations and slowing working on adding the diacritical marks and also the Sanskrit but am not making huge progress on those.

Anyway, here’s a bit about Prashant.

In many ways, I still feel like yesterday was the real last class in terms of the grand vision of the soul that Prashant articulated so beautifully.

We twisted and worked with the breath for most of Prashant’s class today. He didn’t talk as much about the grand vision of yog but more technically about how to use breath with the actions of poses. We worked with altering action before and after and during exhalation and before and after and during inhalation.

In the last part of class, we worked more with Violma actions. He had a funny metaphor for Viloma. We interrupt the breath to increase our overall capacity. He said you can’t eat a bag of cashews or chips all in one sitting, but with various interruptions over the course of the day, the cashews or chips will disappear.

I really have been struck by how much he uses food and drink metaphors. Today, he talked a lot about various Indian food delicacies that we Westerns don’t really have the experience of. Come to think of it he actually talked more in Marathi than he usually does today, so there was time to just take in what I wasn’t understanding and wait for some understanding to come. Which was actually one of his major philosophical points for the day. That learning happens. We don’t make learning happen.

Prashant aimed at getting us to observe the effects of the action more than focusing so much on the doing of the action. I think that’s one of the reasons he uses metaphors from every day life so much. We are in a sense experts at tasting food and knowing the effect and knowing preference and we don’t often reflect necessarily on the process of knowing around those everyday sorts of knowing and doing and receiving the effects.

What would it be like to know our practice, its actions and its effects, as intimately as we take in the foods that we eat?

Even though yesterday’s class was more inspiring, today’s was a more practical take home message. The power to learn is within you. You already have it. Learn to observe beyond the realm of doing. Learn, observe, relearn. Cultivate the literacy of your own practice.

As always, there’s more to say.

Practice was great. Jenn and I worked on the hips, Jeff did a really nice Hanuman IV. Lunch was also really nice. Got to talk with Jose and Andrea and Chris Briney a bit. Hakka Noodles are quite tasty at Ambience, by the way. Also, though I did not have it today, the tandoor cauliflower is fabulous!

We had great timing getting home before the rains. We packed and showered.

Jory stopped by to pick up some laundry detergent and I gave him the umbrella that Lisa left for me.

Jenn, Jeff and I were just having a conversation about learning and suffering and access to teaching and being willing to share more of what it like to be here.

Now, we are all off to Gulnaz’s class.

Posted by Anne-Marie Schultz at 4:46 AM

Labels: #Pune2014

PRASHANT’S SUPERFLOUS BEAUTY

 

Monday Morning Musings on Meaning:
Prashant’s Superflous Beauty

http://teachingphilosophyandyoga.blogspot.com.br/2014/07/monday-morning-musings-on-meaning.html

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”   Ludwig Wittgenstein

“All of a sudden, we come to see something wondrously beautiful in its nature.” Plato

Jenn and I went to Gulnaz’s class on Sunday morning. She has a small yoga studio a few miles down the big highway from RIMYI. It was a delightful experience. Small setting, smaller scope. She chose to focus on a couple of small points of alignment and action that made a huge difference. Like frequently, we line up the front heel to the middle of the back arch in lateral standing poses, but if we move the front foot slightly forward, that accounts for the different in width between the ball of the foot and the heel and makes it easier to align the hips. She is excellent at observable action and observation, very funny, an excellent language user herself, and sincerely dedicated to helping us learn.  She has the valuable ability to laugh both at herself and to make you both look at and laugh a bit at yourself at the same time. Delightful.

The sequence was AMVira, AMS, Utt feet at outside of mat, Utthita Hasta Pad, Parsva Hasta Pad. Utt with feet together (another big point she worked with here was drawing the whole inner leg strongly together, not just aligning the feet and thinking we are done). Sirsasana, with hips and ankles belted, sarvangasana, supta BK, savasana. Really felt nice. Integrative work as opposed to the bombarding of points. It was really instructive to see how exploring just one or two points of alignment are enough to ponder for quite some time.

After that, I came back to flat, met up with Jeff and we met Jenn and Patricia who lived in Bahrain…. to Vaishali. Mysore Cheese Masala Dosa and Lime Soda. Yummy. That was by far the best dosa I’ve had on the trip. I think the cheese adds a lot to the dosa experience.

Jeff and read for awhile. Then, we went up to the Marriott in the late afternoon. Swim and spa. It felt really good to feel so clean. I had a lovely chat with Dafnes about Pune and her future plans and then we had dinner. Jeff, Jory, and Dafnes got the buffet. I had hot and sour soup, some of the best I’ve had anywhere, except an amazing Chinese place somewhere on the Upper East Side of NYC.

I had a hard time winding down to go to sleep last night, so 4:45 am came pretty early. One nice thing about being somewhat closer to the institute is another 20 minutes of sleep in the morning.

Prashant’s classes are thought provoking on many levels. On the one hand, a lot of his discourse is aimed at raising our internal awareness and connections and networks within the body and between the body and the mind and the breath. All that is fascinating exploration in its own right that calls for deeper self study over a “long uninterrupted period of time.” On the other hand, so much of what he speaks of covers a vast terrain of topics that I also find my mind making all kinds of seemingly external associations as well. Thoughts about Plato and Patanjali, ancient Greek medical practices and his comments about western science, the meaning of words and how they change over time, what meaning means itself, the true, the beautiful, the good. It sometimes feels like my mind has travelled a thousand miles but at the same time, I’ve never left the confines of triangle pose. That existential experience itself caused me to have a different understanding of the whole you, yours and in you. Thoughts seem external but are internal. Associative thoughts like that are in a sense “outward going,” but they have a different effect on the mind than the outward going distractions of “oh the practice room is crowded,” “Why is that person not putting their props up?” “Do they not understand that they are not supposed to use the rope wall unless they need the ropes?” “Why do 6 people have individual timers today?” “Why is there no rule about that?” Those are thoughts of the mind just like thinking about the meaning of attitude, or superfluous or our misplaced trust in science, but because the purpose and mode of presentation of Prashant’s utterances is different, is aimed at enhancing our own learning process they seem to have an inward going effect.

I was able to have a bit more of an objective stance with respect to those outward going distractions today and that helped the thoughts be less distracting from practice time, but I still found myself ready to go by 11:00, particularly with the widely ignored injunction  not to take up space doing supine poses.

Prashant covered some basic ground about working with purpose and how the purpose changes or work and the work we are doing changes or purpose, how we can work with the breath in terms of containing our awareness to a particular area of the body and how we can work with the breath to spread our awareness and how those practices have different effects.

One great line from today: “Breath-ify your embodiment.”

Another line I liked a lot, “Complexity is not inspiring.” He talked about how our lack of familiarity with a subject leads us to see complexity when really it is just lack of familiarity. For instance, a software computer designer, doesn’t have the same experience of complexity that we might as users of the software when confronted with all that goes into making our experience of the software user friendly.

We are daunted by complexity but we shouldn’t let the “Prashant’s teachings are complex” be something that allows us to dismiss further consideration of the subject. We should aim to improve our understanding to simplify the complex. Geeta actually talks a lot about the importance of simplicity and clarity of instruction in her writings about teaching. For some reason, I was reminded of the fact that so many artists like O’ Keefe and Picasso cultivate a simplicity of expression as their creative mastery increases.

It was also simply a good reminder as both a teacher and as a student not to let the “wow there’s so much to know, it seems so complicated and overwhelming” be the end of our thought process. We should strive for simplicity.

He had a very interesting discourse on the limitations of the English language for conveying meaning, because it is still a language that changes very quickly. So, whatever we write now, is not going to mean the same thing in 10-20-30 100 years. Two examples he used were attitude and superfluous. He said, suppose someone tells you to “hide your attitude” or “don’t let your attitude show.” That seems to convey that attitude is a bad thing, or something that needs to be suppressed. Where as it more broadly means a disposition. He also seemed to suggest that the activity of suppressing something like attitude was harmful, but he did not elaborate there, but it did get me thinking about the difference between thinking about vrttis as something that need to be suppressed as opposed to restrained. It also relates a lot to my own work in Plato with the limitations of a self-mastery model of virtue cultivation and the benefits of thinking about harmony as a metaphor for relationship between parts of the virtuous soul.

Back to attitude, according to Dictionary.com which is probably like the Wikipedia of word knowledge, attitude is associated with posture or position that conveys said attitude. I personally don’t think of the word as having that negative connotation so much, but he’s certainly right that it is a common usage. That’s another dimension of context meaning. Whether I take up the communal use of the term, or not? Am I somehow more or less in touch with what “the word really means?

I loved the other example he used: Superfluous. Superfluous now means something unnecessary or irrelevant, or uncalled. Its Latin, or one might say literal meaning, is something like overflowing, but apparently originally in English it meant something of abundant beauty. I did not know that. Isn’t that nice?

Superfluous beauty. Prashant’s own words seem aimed a cultivating an appreciation of both implicit meaning and how meaning changes depending on context. A lot of what we attribute implicit or objective meaning to, say scientific truth, is, in fact, very changeable. He definitely did not go down the Nietzschean road of “truth is perspectival.” In fact, he talked a lot about philosophical values being timeless. The more our context of understanding broadens, the more we seem simplicity in complicity, the more we come to understand the real. Hopefully, this context exploration enables us to overcome avidya.

2.05 anitya asuci duhkha anatmasu nitya suci sukha atma khyatih avidya
  Mistaking the transient for the permanent, the impure for the pure, pain for pleasure, and that which is not the self for the self: all this is called lack of spiritual knowledge, avidya. (I)

Ignorance is the notion that takes the self, which is joyful, pure and eternal, to be the non-self, which is painful, unclean, and temporary. (B)

Even how Prashant makes up words, how he plays with this dynamic of meaning and context dependent meaning, seems aimed at reducing our ignorance. He takes words apart and puts them together in dynamic one might even say “superfluous” ways. The effect on the mind is startlingly beautiful indeed.

 

 

 

Posted by Anne-Marie Schultz at 12:20 AM

 

THREE POSTCRIPTS ON PRASHANT’S CLASS

Three postcripts on Prashant’s class

http://teachingphilosophyandyoga.blogspot.com.br/2014/07/three-postcripts-on-prashants-class.html
1.  The outfit of the mind.  What we are wearing  physically determines what activities we want to engage in.  We are dressed for the  gym, so we expect gym culture.  If we were wearing a fine sari, we would not want to do standing poses.   If  we keep our dressing gowns  all day,  we will find ourselves gravitating toward the bedroom.  So too the mind.  How do we  outfit the mind for the practice of yog?  Breath awareness.   Engage in an ongoing cycle of  observation, learning from observation, studying, learning from studying, observing what we learned and studied  etc.

2.  Learning.  As a student, I find the process of learning much more  exciting to think about.    Of course, it is all about learning.  As a teacher, I have a more mixed reaction.  I’m into the teaching side too.   In academic contexts, we have to do all sorts of  assessments of  student learning and there  I often have a negative attitude about assessing that process. Of course, students are learning. Why do I have to develop and measure rubrics that prove that they are learning.    But as a student, I am palpably aware of  how important learning is.  Often, in teaching contexts (academic and yogic) we focus so much on developing the skills of  good teaching that  we can forget that the purpose of developing those skills is really to facilitate  student learning.

3.  Don’t be too attached to our problems.  Why do we always focus on all the problems our body has when we come to do Iyengar yoga?   Yes, Iyengar yoga  helps  “fix” things that are wrong, but often that cure is more holistic.  We can work on the shoulder because we are aligning our hips more properly.  If we are shoulder oriented, all we see in the shoulder and not how the parts relate. More broadly, we lose a sense of the real purpose of  learning  yog.  We  reduce yoga to yoga therapy.