Is ashtanga like bad sex? • 4 June 2008

Ok, tempering the ashtangelism….  

People who dance often tell me the practice makes them feel beautiful.

People who practice ashtanga often tell me the practice makes them feel fat.

The median dancer is 20 years older and 40 pounds heavier than the median ashtangi. 

Other differences in form, state of awareness, and possibilities for expanding boundaries of “self”:

Ashtanga: lotus binds; pick-ups; strong boundaries around individual experience.

Culture of “working on myself.”

Mental states: advanced practitioners (regardless of place in the series) cultivate trance and practice meditative contemplation through tristana, while it’s key for earlier students to focus on the physical forms. Energetic thread is lost when posture takes over and movement stops. Weak correlation between mental state and physical posture because you can’t really deduce mental state from posture.

Dance: free form; spontaneous; weak boundaries around individual experience. 

Culture of deep introspection, acceptance, self expression.

Mental states: most people pretty instantly go in to trance with the pulsing rhythm and the energy of a large, sophisticated group. It seems like they go into either a gut-level, emotion-rich undifferentiated consciousness (a sort of primal state?) or a sophisticated, contemplative state that feels a lot like the open-inquiry stages of vipassana. If they stop moving, it may mean they’re “not feeling it” or that they’re in a trance state in which stillness brings even more depth than motion.

Does ashtanga make one feel fat while dance makes one feel beautiful, regardless of actual body-looks? What’s up with this? If good sex is partner-merging and bad sex is body-critical and self-conscious, what does that make ashtanga?


What’s the best place for the “self” within an altered state—front and center or “forgotten”?

If you experience emotion as “not mine” and “not-me” in dance, does that limit the possibilities for it to be a “transformative” thing during which you process your own shit and finally, personally, letting it go?

Does ashtanga give you less of an escape from difficulties of transforming the psycho-emotional stuff in your own body… is it more difficult in this respect than other embodied practice? More transformative?

Why don't ashtangis really dance?

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