Narcoleptic • 11 March 2008

The body may be open, but this does not mean you’re all processed out. Or a nice person. Or whatever. Besides, there are a lot of places that asana cannot reach.

Which does not mean that yoga cannot reach them. No seriously: this is a practice of pushing back the veil into the unconscious.

It’s reassuring when I can catch an edge that I didn’t realize was there. Here’s the snag: reactivity about yoga practice that focuses on outer form rather than prizing the breath. An objection that’s completely legitimate. Except in this case it’s more like a little delivery system for my personal hangups.

How could I not feel this, coming out of a school where much of the teaching is to create cover-ready poses. I’ve been oppressed by form! Praised for “perfection” and taught such a thing is attainable in asana of all places. All while in a highly receptive trance state. This history’s in me.

Some artist-friends have this phrase for ambition: “He wants to be on the magazine.” But in my history, that is more than a funny turn of phrase. All this weird energy about being on the magazine.

And here I am, the contrarian who goes narcoleptic when people talk about physical practice, who says throw away the magazine, who won’t watch the DVDs or look at the practice manuals. Won’t do it! Let me out! I’m dying of boredom!

Seeing past form to breath and energy is all good and puts the focus in a deeper place… but, in me, also fosters this invisible hardness that I’m getting away with carrying. I can hide it because (1) the body seems open and I know how to act calm and (2) if I do talk about it, I can easily legitimate the rhetoric that the reactivity creates.

What I’m figuring is that the source of my asana-narcolepsy is this little nest of tangles. Trigger what I feel is obsession with form, anything that looks like perfect body OCD, and I immediately tune out. I can’t stay around for it. Just realizing this doesn’t make me ok with it. I’m still SO narcoleptic, and underneath that, annoyed by the superficiality of form.

This metaphysical fussiness doesn’t go in to any obvious places in the body, but the stupid truth is that it has a little trigger in my solar plexus. I’m somewhere between amazed and further annoyed that, due to the yoga, I can feel that quickening-tightening in the nerves.

I’ve got some peace to make here. If I want to chill out, it means accepting of and valuing form as not the enemy of spirit.

There is a huge amount of unhealthy obsession with bodily “perfection,” and with postural form, in western yoga. God. I am sure it’s nowhere worse than in this town. But I’m not in a place to see that clearly if I’m just letting the reactivity in the solar plexus do the thinking on this matter.

It’s a little funny to practice hundreds of asanas every day for years and simultaneously hold the belief that physical form does not matter. And ironic that the way I’m finding this edge is not by thinking about it so much as coming across physical and half-physical cues in the body itself. The latent fussiness about physicality actually has a body of its own.