Archive for November, 2006

anicca, yoga and dreams

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Anicca = from the Pali language meaning impermanence, change

Yoga = from Sanskrit meaning to yoke, unite, union

I just wanted to write a blog to record some of my thoughts on the things i’m learning and the changes I’ve been going through in my yoga practice. Plus, jot down some details from a strange dream I had…

First of all.. wow, has my body and bodymind been changing!

I’ve always considered myself pretty flexible especially for someone who is well past his twenties, but the simple act of touching one’s toes (note: I have long legs in comparison to my torso) with a relatively straight back is much harder than one would think (I’m sure many men and a some women with tight hamstrings can relate ). 

Now enter three months of intense yoga training.

My body is significantly leaner, stronger and I would even say longer.  Although I don’t recall ever being this busy, I often feel suprisingly energized.  My posture has improved and is more open.  My breath is longer and deeper.  Yoga poses which I initially thought to be intimidating/scary or only for the double jointed rubber people seem to be more within reach and make sense. 

Most importantly there is a true understanding surfacing…every pose if done with the breath, determination, focus, and surrender is perfect at whatever place it is. There is no other to compare to, no final picture-perfect pose to master.   Every asana is always changing and there are a seemingly infinite amount of subtleties that continuosly leave me in awe. The slightest elongation, contraction or relaxation of a tiny muscle or shift in breath/awareness takes you somewhere totally different. 

My established sitting meditation practice has been key in identifying some of my mental habits and reactions but now with the moving physical element present in my ashtanga practice, a whole new world is opening up.  

Now I’m seeing more of my physical habits: which leg I tend to lean on, the way I cross my arms, fold my hands, which way my feet turn out, which leg I lead with, the way my head/neck tends to tilt,etc.. and how each of these nuances, habits or imbalances start to express themselves throughout the body.

Lean this way long enough and the spine will curve that way,  hmm is that the same side that my leg seems to be longer on?… hmm the same side that my hip juts out on? 

My feet default, like most, to the outward position which doesn’t engage the inner legs, then I find myself making the connection while pondering ”why are my inner thighs so weak in this pose, in fact where are they?” 

So many questions…Why is my right shoulder always engaged?  and so many AHA! moments..”now I know why the back pain is here”

Everybody sing along now…. “your foot bone connected to your ankle bone, your ankle bone connected your leg bone etc..”  (I hope my anatomy teacher never reads this)

So now I attempt to use my mindfulness to unlearn my body and start anew, each and every day.

Then we have the body language;  slumped rounded shoulders, head turned down, feet dragging v.s. head up, chest out, spring in the step?

How is my mental “inner” reflected in my physical ”outer” to the world and vice versa? 

Then comes the really really fun part!!…catching and watching my narcissistic, admittedly Type A behaviour in my practice.  My ego still reigns supreme throughout many a session.. “push a bit more, lengthen, bind, you did it yesterday so do it today!” ”You do this pose better than her” “I’m close enough what’s the next step/variation?” “Hmm.. if I pop my hip out here, then I can look pretty close to that Yoga Journal model”  LOL! Tons of fun I tell you!

For my own reference.. the poses that I’ve seen the most change in and kinda gave me that WOW I CAN DO IT! feeling… Utthita Hasta Padanghustasana (extended hand to big toe), Ardha Baddha Padma Uttanasana, binding in all the Marichyasana variations and extending properly with no kick up into Sirsasana (headstand).

So now to my dream and what triggered its recall.. although the details are fading really really fast.

I dreamt that I was (in Panama?) and I was chilling with the Kunas (indigeneous people of Panama/Columbia). I was speaking with some of the women in the vicinity of a man who was tattooed blue.  They told me that it was to protect him from the sun and that I should also be tatooed.  I told them that I don’t want to be fully tattooed but maybe a little bit of ink somewhere would be ok, but I had to find a place on my body where the flow of my energy or prana would be unaffected by the process.

End of dream.

So here’s the cool part.. somehow at work today I managed to get a splotch of ink on my hand..when I noticed it….the dream came back to me.  Awesome!

Check wikipedia here for more on the Kuna people…