Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Developing a home practice Part 9

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11Part 11b Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15Part 15b Part 16 Part 17 Part 18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21Part 21b Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part 25 Part 26a Part 26b Part 27 Parts 28, 29 and 30 Part 32 Part 33 Part 34

The practice IS the mediation.

For me at least.

The practice itself, from Sury A to Savasana, the whole thing, it's a flowing 60 -120 minute meditation. I've never understood the whole, Practice as preparation for Savasana thing. It just doesn't make any sense to me, I'm not judging here, it just doesn't. Taken that way the practice seems more like a drug to put you in a state to have some meditative experience. Isn't this why Buddha left the ascetics in the forest and sought the middle way? Take some mescalin and be done with it.
But each to their own, clearly I'm missing something, I've read about some of the profound experiences people have said they have in Savasana. Perhaps it's the difference between the Zen empty mind style of meditation and the Vipassana mindfulness style. My 90 minute flowing meditation is, when it goes well more mindfullness.
That being the case I want to be able to flow through the practice. I like that the asana are always the same, the sequence the same. I don't find it boring, I don't want to think about what comes next, I don't want to get too hung up on a pose but just move into it on the breath, stay there on the breath and then move into the next, again on the breath. This happens in standing within a month or so, but in Primary proper, there's a problem.....the Jump back.
In the beginning you finish one asana cross your legs, half step up and step back, then step forward again, sit down and go into the next pose. It's awkward, disjointed, doesn't go well with the breath.....it is, in fact,.... a sore thumb.
It began to irritate me, in the sense I felt it was a hindrance to the vision I had for my practice. But also, I just wanted to be able to do it. Come on, the vinyasa is the defining image of Ashtanga. You don't see the Ujii breath or the bandhas. The drishte is just someone looking somewhere, not a defining image, the asana could be from any stle of Yoga.
And there are some, oh so cool Jump backs and Jump throughs around, just check out YouTube.
This aspect of ashtanga has always appealed to me. whether it be the Jump back or later the Drop back and coming up,again, Karandavasana, Handstands. I liked that moving the body through space. Defying gravity, a Calder mobile type idea. Plus of course the challenge of the poses that appear most challenging and dramatic. Now of course, I know that it's often the seemingly simple poses that are the most challenging. What's the most challenging asana in all the ashtanga series? Some say kapo, some karandavasana, Dwi pada or perhaps Gandha bherundasana. No, your all wrong for me it's Utthita Hasta pandausthasana. Forgetaba.

Checking out YouTube for Jump backs was my problem. I ended up with an idea of how the jump back should be, taken from videos of guys who had been doing Ashtanga for years. And those were the jump backs I tried to imitate. Here's Lino Miele http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeqWCw-SfCM that was the jump back I was trying to do. In my dreams!
Here's the link to my Jump back progress post http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/search/label/Jump%20back%20monthly%20progress%20videos%20Feb%2008%20to%20present have a look at the videos from Feb-May to get an idea of how I was struggling with it. Actually, I'd got a smoother routine going on in the Jump back but the Jump through was a real problem for me.

The breakthrough was coming across a Jump back video by Paul Fox. I can't seem to find this video anywhere now (Please send me the link if anyone has it). but below is my version of it which is pretty close.
videothe great thing about this was that it was smooth, close to the 'Jump back proper' ,but doable by pretty much anyone. All the elements were there for developing a full lift up and jump back and jump back through. My practice was smoother, more flowing and I knew that I could, and would be able to Jump back properly soon.

UPDATE: Thank you to Marinos for the link to the Paul Fox video.


Next : Jump back blog

11 comments:

  1. Wonderful post.

    It seems like this being a continuation of your Vipassana practice may be one factor (the main factor?) that has insulated you from the usual self-generated BS.

    When you say that "all the elements are there" in the new jumpback vid you found, can you remind me which elements you mean?

    Also, funny about the difference between meditation and practice as prep for savasana. I actually didn't see any conflict between those two "definitions" until now but I guess you've identified another version of the "end in itself" vrs "means to an end" interp of spiritual practice. Good point. I wonder if practice itself resolves the contradiction?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ahhhh, I should have written, that I thought AT THE TIME all the elements were there. I was thinking then that the posture was nice and tight, drishte good, hand placement about right, the shifing your weight forwards, shoulders over hands, lifting up with the help of your feet to Lolasana, bringing the chest forwards and kicking back from there etc. It felt like all these things were important and that they were being worked on in this jump back. It felt close to the real thing and I thought at the time, I would just get stonger and be able to lift without using my feet to push up. I thought I was close, but it ended up taking, what another six months.

    Have decided to carry on with this, Developing a practice thing, to cover the last year or so. Think there's a moolah bandha post in there somewhere...I'll make sure you dont miss it.
    Funny I thought I felt something going on with that this week, a kind of bringing Moolah and uddiyana bandha together. felt like I was drawing them up as I jumped through and it felt kind of like I was hoisting myself up onto a swing that then swung me through quite neatly keeping me lifted all the way. I managed it three or four times then lost it., curious.

    Still dont think it'll get you off the ground, technique will do that , but i think it can help....Not closed to it.


    Dont like to think of the practice as having merely conditional worth. Can't something be an end in itself and yet also a means to an end.....am hearing Ryle and Ludwig in my head re catagory mistakes. Could they not just be two language games that coexist.... Remember we talked about Work and the mistaken understanding of Marx. He valued work as an end in itself no? But of course it's also a means to an end. Does that go for all practices in which we become present. Isn't that what Zen is all about, being present in every moment, making every activity an end in itself. Need Karen to jump in here with a perfect quote.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's interesting, just checked Yoga Mala and our guy doesn't even mention Savasana.

    ReplyDelete
  4. No more savasana!

    Also, when Sh does led, savasana lasts about 20 seconds and then he says Go Home Take Rest. Sa does longer and SKPJ did as well.

    I will find out how much emphasis it got in the old days.

    Not that any of this matters except for this history hobbyist. :-)

    Hear you on the category mistakes. I love when LW says all disagreements are just semantic. But can this resolve the ancient tension between tantric and ascetic, immanent and transcendent approaches? That does not quite work for me. They are not talking about the same experience. But two aspects contained in every moment. Emptiness, form. A problem in Advaita, a problem in Greek philos, a problem in anti-mystical religions and hyper-mystical religions, not a problem in Zen, possibly not a problem in yoga?

    P.S. This blog is going to get really boring when you discover savasana and start posting your savasana vids. You'll have to dress them up somehow.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Poor you I know you love your Savasana, you must have been gutted when Sh only gave you 20 seconds.
    How about Nietzsche's Apollonian and Dionysian in Birth of Tragedy There's an attmept at a resolution.

    I remember you saying you were into the old ashtanga lore, didn't anyone write a decent book about the good old days when Savasana lasted a week?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Back on the original days of this ancient system, when mythical beasts and all the godesses and gods walked theis earth, each savasana lasted a hundred years.

    Epic savasanas, I'm telling you.

    In fact, none of this is real. We are just the savasana fantasy of a naghty sage lying on the shore of the Ganges in the mists of time, wandered off in to fantasy and forgetting to quiet her mind.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is this the Paul Fox video you mention in the post?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf50e96ZP80

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nice rereading the savasana chat.

    That might be it Anon, so long ago now but it seems to fit with how I described he elements in the above comment. Thanks for the link.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey I love the jump back! Gotta try this! And I love your story. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think this is the video by Paul Fox you're looking for:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf50e96ZP80

    Cheers,Marinos

    ReplyDelete

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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