Friday, 15 May 2015

Flying cars and Is Ashtanga a spiritual practice? Also Opening a shala/studio in Osaka

Reply to a comment on my previous post
Home practice.... but in a Shala. 5:30am. Wake Up. Practice..... Next Morning - Repeat.


You don't have a flying car? Oh I forgot everywhere else is five years or so behind Japan. No, I did not know they were making a Blade Runner sequel, not sure how I feel about that either.

Friend was over from the UK yesterday, I was showing them Osaka, this very conversation came up while walking past all the stand up counter noodle bars, my friend was feeling very Harrison Fordian.

Tenoji , Osaka at night (was here with friends yesterday.
I still don't know what 'spiritual' means (these new fangled words, how does one keep up), what I do know is that so many meditation practices say to begin with the breath, spend the first couple of years just watching the breath. Mediator's start with twenty minutes, forty an hour at a time. In Ashtanga we spend 90-120 minutes (or longer), ideally just watching the breath. I don't know many mediator's, lay Zen or otherwise who spend that long in one sitting (although often broken up with walking meditation). So the question is how much distraction do we allow by getting wrapped up in the asana or whatnot.

I personally found slower practice helped, can watch each inhalation and exhalation from beginning to end, coming back to that constantly makes a profound difference to my practice. More recently I've worked on shifting that focus from the breath to the focal points that Krishnamacharya mentions and that his son Sribashyam draws attention to, this too is a profound practice. Does it bring me close, to God, Universal consciousness? I still have no idea what they mean but it does give a very real experience of what is so often an intellectual idea of 'not being', all the nonsense that passes through the head,... 'in the world' but not necessarily 'of the world'.... bit of a bugger that for a Heideggerian.

Does all this make it a spiritual practice? I have no idea but I think breath focus and not losing track of that being what the practice is really about is either an end in itself or, if a spiritual path is what somebody is looking for, then a pretty impressive beginning.

And then there is the Yoga three stages for life idea, all this can be seen as preparation for that time when kids and household commitments have passed and we can retire to the metaphorical ( or actual) forest and really begin our practice.

Ultimately however athletic, gymnastic, asana obsessed somebodies practice may or may not be doesn't really matter ( so to all those who saying  'X' isn't yoga, please, get over yourselves), it's the long game that matters and most of us are just passing through the second stage of life anyway, time enough for that third stage. Leave somebody else's practice to them to worry about it and attend to our own, Yoga has survived one way or other for thousands of years we probably don't need to 'protect' it as much as we think. Just lay out your stall and somebody can stop or walk on by and perhaps come back later.... or not.


LINK to earlier post


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Just seen that fb have offered up a picture (or rather a screenshot) of something I posted on this day a year ago, still agree with it and consider it the practice.


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Opening a Yoga shala/studio in Osaka, Japan

Possibility has come up ( friend got in touch who is moving into the same building) of opening a shala/studio in Osaka, just down the road in fact. Quite excited but also terrified by the idea.

Mentioning and showing pictures will probably jinx the deal but if it doesn't happen anyway then posting these might give me the push to seek out another location.

The idea I have in my head is calling it something like


Slow Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama Yoga - Osaka.

My own classes would be Slow Ashtanga as based on Krishnamacharya's early books as well as classes on Vinyasa Krama but in the morning Mysore program anyone could come and practice however the hell they wanted, Regular Ashtanga, Slow Ashtanga, Vinyasa Krama, Power yoga with bells on, Home practice but in a shala.

May know this afternoon if it's going to happen but if not.....




8 comments:

  1. Wow, amazing space. Looks as though it was once a dance school or something like that. Love the idea of power yoga with bells on. Put me down for that. At least for the first five minutes of practice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Goodluck Anthony, wish to visit you in Osaka for a slow yoga retreat one day!

    Anonymous follower from Poland

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Anthony. It’s a bit difficult for me to follow with my limited english, so I hope that this comment isn’t out of topic.
    The proposition is : as long as I do question the technique, I do not question mySelf.
    Practice is a quest, a question. There is no answer, but the fact of questioning will bring transformations. Yoga has never been about doing anything correctly or on the properest way ; it’s about exploring different dimensions of life (breath, body, mind,…) in the attempt they reveal their ontological dimension.
    We don’t have the choice of spirituality, it is there anyway.
    About considering a practice as a spiritual path or not, it will never depend of the type of practice, but of the relationship to it. If I was a dancer, I could question myself this way : when do I (really) start to dance ? (or) When does the dance start ? Different answers might come to mind ; they are clues, only clues. Just the feeling of them is to be observed.
    Often what we consider as a spiritual purpose is more a transfer. We have to understand that there is no way of life, no art of life. Ashtanga Yoga is definitely a spiritual practice, but may be we focus too much on its technique that we know quite well already, or on the brahmin orthodox aspects which are a part of its culture, but not of its essence…

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  4. Ah, Grim, you're the best! YES to stand up noodle counters in the rain! That picture of nighttime Osaka is totally Blade Runnerish. Love. I hope Harrison is doing all right, you know he broke his pelvis in that plane accident a couple of months ago, yikes. He's not doing any stand up noodle counters right now, I don't think. Best to him, wherever he is.
    As for the spiritual practice thing, I mean, OF COURSE ashtanga CAN be a spiritual practice, anything that assists someone in having a numinous experience can be that person's spiritual practice, right? Surfing, meditating, throwing pots on a wheel, prayer, spinning a la the dervish, etc. Ashtanga is full of the sorts of things that tend to help people have that sort of feeling, attention on the breath, ritual, saluting things larger than oneself (the sun, the sages, etc). I guess it just hasn't ended up having that effect on ME. I'm a tough nut to crack, haha. Oh, except that one time with David Williams, meditating after a primary and BOOM I'm suddenly in this weird freaky inner silence that goes on for miles. Do you get that? It only lasted for a couple of seconds, and I haven't been able to recreate but a couple of times in six years and never as strongly. If I was getting much of *that* in my practice, I'd probably have no problem saying it's a spiritual practice. :) Ah well. There's still time. Maybe I'll get there yet. In the meantime, I'll take it as a physical practice, and a mentally steadying practice (in that I have to show up regularly, and go through the sequence, even though it's hard...hmmm, and possibly a meditative component when holding bandha/breath etc, though I haven't had much luck there, I'm so distractable!), and leave it at that. Can you tell I'm not in a "i love my practice" period? But part of it is slogging through those times when one would really rather stay in bed.

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  5. Oh, and I totally forgot to mention the space! What happened what happened? I'm on pins and needles. Looks like a great room!

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    Replies
    1. Its still on the table Maya, goingvtovcostva little more than we thought perhaps so a lot of thinking. Somewhere smaller makes sense but I have this 'vision' of any and all the Krishnamacharya Lineages practicing together and a bigger room may make more sense. Its madness put perhaps, just perhaps, method in it.

      Delete
    2. Should read ' going to cost more'
      Big thumb small buttons

      Delete
    3. Should read ' going to cost more'
      Big thumb small buttons

      Delete

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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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