Saturday, 11 October 2014

Shala practice, a Month Mysore Pass, community, Dionysian / Apollonian, Zen and the Parthenon, Parampara. Plus the silent Aeropress coffee maker... and the kitchen sink

Last Saturday I went to a led Ashtanga class at Spirit Mysore Osaka, nice space, not too hot, not too stuffy, a well ventilated practice space.

"I could practice here".



I'm still not used to breathing other peoples air, or rather, sharing air but as well ventilated Ashtanga rooms go, I probably couldn't do much better.

"Cool. Cool place, heater I don’t want". Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (see yesterdays post).

3.1 Places to practise Yoga
Yoga should not be practised in a country where there is no faith in yogabhyasa, or in a dangerous forest where you cannot look after your person, or in overcrowded cities, or in houses where there is no peace.
The following places are superior: a place with plenty of water, a fertile place, a place where there is a bank of a holy river, where there are no crowds, a clean solitary place — such places are superior. In such a place, yoga can be practised. In such a place find a region where there is a well or a pond or a lake. Build a fence around this area and in a flat region in the middle of this build a beautiful ashram. In this location, make arrangements so that insects like ants, mosquitoes, and bed bugs and insects that can draw blood cannot enter. Moreover, it is necessary to clean the space with cow dung daily ( 'for it's antiseptic properties': Ramaswami). Inside the building, put up pictures on the four walls to encourage the growth of vairagya (detachment), jitendriya (control of the senses), and yoga vidya abhyasa.
In the yogabhyasa sala decorated as described above, spread a seat of grass on the ground in a clean space not facing the front door. Over that spread a tiger skin or deer skin and over that put a white blanket or a clean white cloth.

Prepare such a place for sitting. To make sure no bad smell enters this place, burn sambrani or incense. After completing their yoga practice consisting of asana and pranayama, the yoga practitioner must rest for fifteen minutes keeping the body on the floor before coming outside. If you come outdoors soon after completing yogabhyasa, the breeze will enter the body through the minute pores on the skin and cause many kinds of disease. Therefore, one should stay inside until the sweat subsides, rub the body nicely and sit contentedly and rest for a short period. 
Krishnamacharya on places to practice yoga from Yoga Makaranda (pretty much lifted from Hatha yoga Pradipka)

I went along again on the Sunday for morning Mysore and afterwards made the commitment of a month long Mysore pass, bit of a big deal for a committed home practitioner I guess but I'd recently had two months in Rethymno with Kristina..



It's spacious but still... intimate, perhaps due to the way Veronique (Veronique Tan, the excellent level 2 Authorised teacher who holds the room here), keeps the top half of the room filled. When one finishes their Mysore practice she has somebody move on up from further down the room to take the space. I hear it gets cold here in winter perhaps that's also a way of keeping the heat in one part of the room. Is this common practice?

Here's a cultural tit bit for you. When I came in for my first Mysore practice I asked Veronique Sensei if I should just put my mat anywhere, she said "Sure, anywhere". So I put it half way down the room, same place I practiced on Saturday, right opposite the painting of Buddha that I liked. Somebody was already practising up in the far right corner. Through 'Standing' though I started to notice that every time somebody would come in they would go up to the top of the room and lay down their mat next to or across from the previous mat, nice regular lines working their way down the shala to my own mat. Oops. This morning I followed suit, laid my mat next in line with only a brief wistful look down the room at Buddha.

I've heard horror stories of shala's where much vindictiveness mild irritation is aroused by some poor drop-in taking a spot that a long term regular had decided was their very own ."I ALWAYS practice here!"I can imagine a pause in the collective ujjayi as the poor drop-in, blissfully ignorant, lays down their mat while everyone waits in expectant horror or perhaps secret amusement for the regular to arrive. 

No chance of that happening here, you just take the next spot in line.... unless perhaps the spot on the right by the window is favoured and one arrives forty minutes early to be sure of getting it. Veronique mentioned that it's the coolest spot.

So I'm quite the shala ashtangi now, I've been writing down moon days, putting the slight difference in practice times in my diary ( and in different pen colours too).

caught this week's total eclipse, here it is just beginning
Playing shala Ashtangi is fun... except when it isn't, Typhoon hit Monday, big winds and a lot of rain and me still without a jacket let alone an umbrella, I went back to bed and practiced at home.

An even bigger Typhoon is due to this Weekend/Monday, I may get another lie in and home practice.

TY 1419 (VONGFONG)

If getting to the shala is half the practice.... does that mean I can stop at Kapoasana?


That's Veronique  above in the centre of the room, she recently came back from Sharat's extended teacher training Special course, for Authorised teachers (invite only), very up to date then with not only how Ashtanga is currently being presented in Mysore, India and perhaps also  how Sharat intends to teach this season.

It's curious experiencing the different focus of attention, the varying concerns of different teachers especially after spending the last few months in Crete with Kristina and Manju where so many of the old ways are still alive and present.

Old ways, new ways, interesting to explore them all and see later which elements end up remaining a part of one's Ashtanga practice and perhaps even one's yoga practice.

In Nietzsche's sense, Crete seemed more Dionysian, oh so Dionysian, here the stress appears, for the moment at least, to be more Apollonian.

Both are considered essential to Nietzsche, the Dionysian needs form and form without the Dionysian.... well, "...what's the point, Stan", an empty eggshell.

Either way it's all good work but a relief to come home and do my regular practice in the evening.

I could do with some Apollonian form perhaps, there's seven years of bad habits for poor Veronique  to deal with, plus a general lack of interest over the years in the 'correct' vinyasa of the day (Although recently I obsessed on the count for a while in Primary - Anyone have a bootleg audio of Sharat's 2nd series count?).

Mostly though I just want to tidy up my 2nd series, get my strength and stamina back such that I can explore Krishnamacharya's approach to Intermediate asana, in the same way I've been looking at his Primary this last year or two. Unfortunately only certain aspects of Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga survived parampara, Archaeology is required.

Talking of Archeology

I came across a Zen monk ( who seems to have open Zazen sessions) with an obsession for the Elgin marbles, supposedly he's been to see them ten times at least and says that on seeing them he realised what was wrong with his Zazen.
You can run the link through google translate for an English'ish version. http://www.geocities.jp/tensho_ji/index.html

The wonderful marbles should of course be back in their rightful place Athens in the beautiful new National Archeological Museum below the Parthenon http://www.namuseum.gr/index-en.html (we'll take that replica though).... and as Free of charge for anyone to visit as in the British Museum, poor Zen monk couldn't have visited ten times if he'd had to pay 7 euros each visit.

This is the google English translation of a blog post where the Monk explains the impression the marbles made on him as well as on his Zazen

"In attitude and flexible nature, beautiful and behave freely-actively - and was named "Parthenon-style" to live like this. By using a return to a flexible attitude of the original, freedom-activeness that their have you originally emerged. And since is that it is available to everyone."



I could try to tidy up the Google's English a little but it has a somewhat poetic quality don't you think, the frown of incomprehension gives way to a smile and an ahhhh, so I thought I'd leave it as it is as well as the post below from the Monk's blog where he tries to explain his idea of a Parthenon style of Zazen. Note where he talks about exploring the nature of the body.

"Zen and Parthenon style quest of attitude beautiful flexible & free natural" 

People think it's strange title also will most likely. I think so too.
I came to explore as most important thing,
Such as Shinran Shonin and Jesus or Zen Buddhism,,
The ones that you feel sincerely "It's really important this is!" And,
It was very religious naturally.
At the same time, to explore the nature of the body also is important,
In the process, that it has met a sculpture in the Parthenon was a milestone.
And exploration of Zen and zazen, is quest of Parthenon sculpture,
In a strange form myself, and connected, and has been explored.
(It will continue until death) the course of the quest,
I think you would like to spell out in this blog.

Direction you are thinking now,
· (Failure can be seen very well) my experience in the body and posture
- Zen in the "free-flexible"
Words used 臨済 Zen master is repeated ("free",
The "flexible", teacher Dogen has been described as the root of Buddhism. )
· "Waist stand" and "put the hip" mean?
-Of (or mind) and body "center" is?
-Wonder of the body seen in sculpture Parthenon actual Zen flexible


Perhaps that's the Apollonian sense of our practice, our attention to form, the container, it is after all an embodied practice. Or is it, perhaps as with the mind we attend to the body to overcome the body, pay attention to form without becoming lost in form.

I'm more than happy to have my asana poked about a bit, sure I'd get a rougher ride in an Iyengar class. Also, encountering the latest manifestation of vinyasa is a source of much interest and even amusement in the case of drishti since I tend to practice with my eyes shut... "I have to look where?See this post on focal points. Must do a comparison post on Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga vinyasa (put to one side in his later teaching) and current vinyasa, been meaning to for some time.

One last thought on form....

The 'Zen circle 'below, isn't that round, tear it up and start again


and as for this 'wabi sabi' pot.....


I liked this sentiment from the Ashtanga San Diego Blog

जलपूर्णेष्वसंख्येषु शरावेषु यथा रवेर् ।
एकस्य भात्यसंख्यत्वं तद्वद्भोऽत्र दृश्यते ।।
उपाधिषु शरावेषु यो संख्या वर्तते परम् ।
सा संख्या भवति यथा रवौ चात्मनि तत्तथा ।।
In the same way that a single sun reflects innumerable times in innumerable bowls full of water, so diversity is seen in the world. But just as there are as many suns as there are bowls, so there are as many selves as there are conditions for their appearance.

"In the Ashtanga yoga community we like to speak (or write) a lot about how the practice is more than physical and can be practiced by anyone willing to devote themselves to this endeavor. Unfortunately, our constant stream of asana-selfies, highlighting ever more difficult physical postures, can undermine the message we attempt to communicate. It is a delicate balance as there is beauty and serenity in an asana practice done properly, when it is performed as sacrifice. I find myself wondering though, what sort of different message would we be able to communicate if we started turning our cameras and our blogs upon others? Not in criticism but in praise, in awe, in grateful recognition of the stunning, varied forms of the practice. "

Cheat sheet of Sury namaskars made up  different embers of the shala, love this, hope they do a full Primary soon. Full size pdf here http://www.ashtangasd.com/discussion/downloads

******


The video below was supposed to show how silent the Aeropress is for making early morning, pre practice excellent coffee, except that I'm making a hell of a racket, probably more than the nespresso machine used to make.




and everything else is included so why not this....

The Kitchen Sink
form at the expense of function?

1 comment:

  1. from mikeintonbridge (deleted it by mistake so reproducing this from my inbox, sorry Mike

    Perhaps it is just that the potter in me is more developed than the cook but not sure about the kitchen sink. Somehow I feel as though its designer didn't have the same understanding of what it is to wash up as the maker of the tea bowl above had of what it is to drink tea.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment again - and thanks also for all your posting whilst you were not able to handle comments.

    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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