Saturday XX • 28 July 2007

Today I caught an early kundalini yoga class in time to get to the beach before the heat. I’ve been a little sour lately, if you haven’t had the misfortune of a direct taste; and I carried a seed of skepticism into class although I like the teacher very much.

Now really, if you need hocus-pocus to spark that energy, you are wasting your time.

Yeah. So the class was great. We did a bunch of stupid-looking kriyas that lonely, naked Indian men in caves probably made up out boredom and dementia. Most of these tricks involved holding awkward shapes and performing a loud, rapid “bellows breath” from the belly. Then we took savasana, which was the deepest and most deathly peaceful I’ve experienced in ages. Then we chanted something about how the universe and its creative force are awe-inspiring and wonderful.

I’ve taken enough random yoga to be able to let go into the weirdness, so got into this easily enough. These practices are about playing with energy (presuming you know how to find it in the first place, which might be a large presumption). It’s just about the subtle body: tension, force, lightness, breath, and the way that your relationship to gravity changes when you find certain deeper muscles and colonize them from the involuntary into the voluntary sphere. Subtle body isn’t mystery: it’s just one level less obvious than asana contortionism. I loved that the class was all play, whereas my experience of asana practice is equal parts energy creation, expenditure, and release.

There’s power in the breath, and the way it edges up against and creates tension in the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the muscles of the throat. Sometimes I forget.

Tomorrow the living guru of astanga yoga turns 92 and the Mysore rooms will be empty. To build on theme of letting go into looking stupid, I’m seriously considering renting in-line skates and hitting the paved beachwalk first thing tomorrow morning. (Let’s not argue about this: we all know that rollerblading is lame.) I think I can be confident that most people I know will sleep in, and I’ll be relatively anonymous in my awkwardness. Vande gurunam.

Not so much on the linking this Saturday. Just a few from earlier in the week.

? You likely already saw this, along with the Filipino prisoners dancing Thriller, but: the rural farmlife version of Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Funny. Will Oldham’s open-hip gyrations confirm what I’ve been saying since his last visit to LA: the guy is doing some yoga.

? The NYT’s quaint American Road Trip series visits the ShambalaMountainCenter and gets way too moony for good journalism. By page two, the entire “news article” genre has deteriorated into formless, depressive goo. Kind of endearing.

? Joseph LeDoux does an interview in Salon about the key processes that underlie consciousness, how the brain regulates emotions, and the relationship of music and memory.

[E]ven if we solved the problem of consciousness we wouldn’t understand how our brains make us who we are.… [M]otives like the desire to succeed or to obtain power are not simple reflections of consciousness. Dick Cheney probably thinks he’s a good guy.

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