Regarding my ass • 10 September 2009

Last week I did light practice and spent the rest of most days moving heavy objects. This week, there’s a deep ache in the piriformis, the glutes, and the quadriceps. As somebody said, hurts so good. The leftover tension is from power work in external rotation, rather than the internally-rotated lifting I’m used to in ashtanga. Back in my yoga boutique, where I do this extremely specialized, insane thing called advanced series, having a tense ass looks like a limitation.

But the fatigue is satisfying for now; and the sensation of opening it back up again is intense and helps me understand why students love the feel of hip-openers. I could not care less if the backbends are half as deep.

Isn’t it absurd to practice to the end of increasing flexibility? If one actually uses her body (which, being a cog in the the information economy, I do rarely), it will become fatigued and achey. If one happens by some accident of nature to age, then fatigue, degeneration, and pain will ensue. If something so inevitable as the weather changes, the body will change with it.

(Incidentally, how offensive is it if I curse?)

What I am trying to say is: Why not look for the byproducts of practice in a less limited plane than the body?

Stop fucking measuring inches already. I'd like to get down to brass tacks in the territory where we can actually find happiness, satisfaction, and love. I mean, if we are going to be OCD taskmasters, why not find some better tasks?

Don’t measure inches– measure the miles of acceptance, or generosity, or thankfulness, or fucking whatever it is that becomes possible on the much less limited plane of the self when you practice every single day. This is still specific, still subject to inventory. Fuck backbends. Exactly how many breaths can you quiet the mind? Then, how many bad cognitive and emotional habits have you mustered the strength to burn? Which exact patterns have been identified and immolated? And once that number gets big, how much love has been created? Can it be generated for not just the easy people but the strangers, and the enemies? Which enemies? Exactly how much happiness have you created that you can give away? In terms of calories expended, hours of the day, groups you are willing to see as kin?

Or if concentration, love and happiness seem too trite, choose a metric that’s in between the trivial inches of fucking backbend and the miles of ego release: eight digits. 12345678. Eight breaths. Over and over until accidentally you shut the mind up for a few years and then the acceptance of having this human life creeps up on you despite yourself, and opens you up whether you like it or not to some genuine, deep fucking cornball sourceless conditionless happiness and love for others.

Flexibility my ass. When did this get misdefined as yoga?