Dangerous Incantation • 23 August 2009

Last night I lived in a floating bungalo off some wild green islands away in the Tropic of Capricorn.  A dream vivid enough to have its own barometric pressure—dialed up high along with the color saturation—with promising deep blue thunderheads off to the north. Friends were visiting—several of you included. We had Thanksgiving dinner on the lanai and then you drove off over the ocean in trucks I lifted from The Grapes of Wrath. My teacher sailed up and we decided to practice. We spent a long time lolling around, watching the beautiful clouds and feeling their mounting winds, deciding to practice. We were in the water, swimming around in a space enclosed by a little walkway, about to go to the studio and take asana together the same way others take tea. Then the sun came out and we said to each other: Why don’t we just do it here?

So then we were in the water, twisting in to pasasana, becoming compact little weights sinking down to fish-level, where the sunlight filtered around so brightly we could breathe it. Krounchasana was a problem—where is the leverage?—so we released it, tried to catch some other fishes… though none of them really came together until the lord of the fishes halfway through the series. It was all vaguely frustrating—we could not understand why shalabasana just would not work in the water—but we stayed out there because it was so beautiful. The light, shadow, color, fish and happiness were so strong… stronger than if we’d have fronted the cash and the carbon credits to get our incarnate asses to Tulum.

He’s actually moving right now, packing up an apartment after years and heading cross town. And so is my first asana teacher ever, who practices with us and is currently teaching me how to adjust her. And so are my grandparents, who abruptly called the assisted living facility last week and are collapsing their beautiful twelfth-story Denver condo, asking me of all people to take on their antiques. These last two weeks of August, beginning with Thursday’s new moon: I’m calling it a cycle to end a larger cycle: seven years on the ground here coming to a close. My apartment and all the routines and comforts it contains—the base of Maslow’s pyramid and the chakra scale well rooted for years—bam! Disintegrating around me. Movers arrive on Tuesday to pack what’s left across the contintent and from there I turn back from a house dweller to a nomad. Don’t ask me the details: what’s of interest now is the unknown, not the sketches that are known.

I rolled in to the shala late this morning, keys and beloved mat both lost to the black hole that is sucking in my life. (Later, Bad Driste Betty returned the keys I misplaced on Friday: "Sometimes having no driste is good!" I kissed her and agreed.) Between the communal mats laced with hamburger sweat and the hard damn birchwood floor, I chose the floor.

Q: But I can’t do this shit without my mat!…A: What’s easier, birchwood for your ground or the open sea? Recognize a gift when it's right under your nose. I thought of Shinzen—“Equanimity is radical non-interference with your own nervous system”—and set up. A process which entailed folding a sweat towel and taking up 0 position, giving SKPJ a wink, saying my secret thing, and launching in. And it was great. The shalabasana-parsva dhanurasana sequence will leave a mark on the hip points (I suppose dung floors are softer than birch, and 14-year-old boy ilia don’t crest like a woman’s) but otherwise it was just practice, albeit  without clearly demarcated personal space or a soft place to put my head in the inversions. Which is exactly what I am doing in life starting now. Technology and creature comfort are good, but maybe I can keep my shit together and thrive without.

I just flashed on myself at 20, driving a Dodge pickup 17 hours cross country to college, listening to Tricky singing about hydroponics just as the Columbia Gorge opens right up at The Dalles, both it and me barreling down to the Pacific.

Anyway, today is Ganesha Chaturthi, the birthday of the elephant god. I told the Editor some people do a little puja, bring the avatar a flower and ask for some obstacle to be removed. Being actually rational, he finds this and my own daily intention of late—a simple but apparently hazardous saying of I consent or, worse, Bring it on the last outbreath before practice—perfect nonsense.

“So is that why you brought flowers in to our home?” He asked. “You wanted Ganesh to remove the obstacle of this apartment from your path?”

Well, fuck.


  • V
    Posted 25 August 2009 at 3:01 pm | #

    Wishing you safe nomadic travellings! xxx

  • Posted 25 August 2009 at 9:54 pm | #

    Thank you.

    Luckily too, I’m grounded by the internet. 🙂

  • susananda
    Posted 25 August 2009 at 10:25 pm | #

    You nutter… you’re supposed to practise on the beach, not underwater! Haha…. sounds lovely actually…

  • fatou
    Posted 26 August 2009 at 4:15 pm | #

    I tried a garbha pindasana in water the other day, sunk like a stone 😉
    but it was fun

  • joy
    Posted 26 August 2009 at 4:34 pm | #

    All this is so beautiful!

  • RE
    Posted 26 August 2009 at 6:32 pm | #

    You sound like you’re moving through (and with) it well. Good work, friend!

  • Posted 27 August 2009 at 12:36 pm | #

    Asana in the water
    Chakras in the dark

  • Posted 28 August 2009 at 4:19 pm | #

    i’m amazed.
    thank you for leaving your comment on my blog, filled with sweet-ness + life, so that i could find my way here.

  • Posted 28 August 2009 at 4:41 pm | #

    Kelly, Karen, RE, Joy, Susan, V… this makes me feel very warm.

    For these months I get to do what comes a little bit hard for the likes of us—receive. From circumstances, from those around me, from wherever. It’s a new, well, practice. We’ll see how I manage.

    Thank you for being here for it.


  • catygay
    Posted 28 August 2009 at 6:32 pm | #

    I am often amazed – but not disappointed – by the absurd credulity of my lovely Americans.

    Direct debit is okay but be-garlaned cash-cows are even better.

  • Posted 28 August 2009 at 6:50 pm | #

    Oh put a blimey sock in it, God. Aren’t you supposed to hold off until judgement day to calculate my flaws?

    Personally, if I wanted bank, I’d have taken that position with the Carlyle Group back in ’99.

    Meanwhile, you forget that ashtanga is Earth’s least lucrative yoga: a body only needs so many pair of nut huggers. And the rattier they are, the closer we get to naked.

    By the way, since I no longer have a home address, go ahead and deposit this month’s tribute on the astral plane. The flesh isn’t quite as jiggly over there, but you could stand to pay a visit.

  • catygay
    Posted 28 August 2009 at 7:39 pm | #

    Knit me a pair of ‘blimey socks’ and i shall consider wearing them to YJ conference.

    Calculating your flaws is more the business of those who’ve packed their files into organic veggie crates and shifted to the physics dept. I am more concerned with exploiting flaws – only so’s you can be assisted out of this rather gruesome little granthi, you understand. That’s the Ashtanga way, kiddo.

    But this notion of the penury of the noble Ashtagi! Dear me, it really does depend on where the coin is cashed. Laos is just dying a death for the want of an Ashtanga retreat centre.

    Just a thought. Gratis amrita in extremis, me little darling. yum

  • Posted 28 August 2009 at 7:57 pm | #

    As any quant can tell you, calculation precedes exploitation. You sure you got your numbers right? In fact, you’re off by approximately a mile. My interesting flaws are invisible to you. I wonder why.

    Anyway, there’s a rather unused hilltop wat in Vientiane, but there is the lingering land mine problem. Ashtanga Marfa, right in the middle of nothing… that’s more my vision.

  • catygay
    Posted 28 August 2009 at 8:07 pm | #

    And do you have the offical list of approved modifications for the limbless?

  • Posted 28 August 2009 at 8:25 pm | #

    Evidently I’m working on modifications for the witless.

    The rest are doing just fine.

  • Posted 31 August 2009 at 3:40 am | #

    what’s going on here? I thought this was just a nice dream post. What’s with the freaky comments? Nut huggers? Putting a sock in it? ha ha!

    No way will I use a disgusting mat from a random place… last time I did it smelled like bleach poured over sour foot smell. Hard floor isn’t so bad- I’ve been stranded on concrete, mat-less and found that it’s really okay. Hip bones? Not so much, but there’s always tomorrow with the black mat practice.

    Went salsa dancing once on a wood deck where my heels caught in the cracks of the boards- was just as fun, just a little more of an adventure.

  • Posted 5 September 2009 at 11:55 pm | #

    well, uhm, i get it that you might be in the process of moving, maybe to north mid-america? i like how they speak English there – no accents.

    Liz, could you ask Mike if he’ll let me salsa dance with you next time i’m in Austin?


  • toca
    Posted 6 September 2009 at 6:46 am | #


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