Sep 5, 2012

bike lights and spider webs

99% practice, 1% theory.  

                     —K. Pattabi Jois

 After almost a week in on a small island in Maine, where I spent way too much time one-percenting  and not nearly enough ninety-nine-ing, my mind feels both over-full and scattered. My body—as in a quote I read somewhere this past week (but where, with all that one-percenting? the Dhammapada? the primer on Hinduism? Desikachar's glosses on the yoga sutras?)—feels like the "froth" it ultimately is.
All the heady stuff plus a sacrum-negating bed and a hip-crushing nine-hour drive home made for one slow, sluggish, fairly perfunctory first practice back home this morning. No bundles of invisible fruit today. 

Maine: so very beautiful, so very bad for
my back (and hips, and neck...)
I would love to get to the point with my home practice (or, as the case may be, vacation practice in a tiny cabin on a remote island in northern Maine) where I might actually do more than a handful of sun salutations, some made-up kriyas, a few yin stretches, and the occassional inversion—in other words, where I might practice the way I do when I bike downtown to the studio/shala in the wee hours. But honestly, I don't see that happening any time soon. In any case, it was a relief this morning, despite the darkness and the rain, to wake up at 5:30 and get back in the groove, bumpy as it was.

How weird to hear myself say that I felt relief at such an early rising. I'm not, by nature, a morning person, but habits are funky that way. You change them, and they change you. And ever since last March—March 9, to be precise (I wrote it down)—when I started a Mysore-style practice for the third time in my life (though this time I think it might stick...), I've been recalibrating my inner clock, so much so that I can now say, as annoying early birds everywhere do, that I cherish those few moments of solitude in the early a.m., when I drink my half-cup of tea and eat my half-slice of toast, and watch the sky change by perceptible degrees through the windows by the kitchen table.

Actually, this morning, there wasn't much in the luminosity-changing department. It's staying darker much later now. I definitely needed my bike lights on the way to the studio—which seems a wintery thing, but at the same time the usual sticky, summery web was stretched across the path leading up to the street from our yard. I suppose the spiders are no more ready for autumn than I am.

One of the things I love about the Mysore-style practice is just the daily repetition of it all—not only the actual sequence, but everything you need to do in order to repeat that sequence, like getting up at 5:30 in the morning, drinking half a cup of tea, watching the sky, pumping up the back bike tire—the one with the slow leak, and snapping through the spider webs...

I love the habit-y nature of it all, or, rather, the mindfully habit-y nature of it, because habits without mindfulness are just so many motions to be got through, so many knee jerk reactions... But with daily repetition of the mindfully habit-y sort, I've started to notice all kinds of things I wouldn't otherwise—like progressions and regressions and frustrating stagnations in individual poses... and how energy pools and flows differently depending on where I put my knee or my drishti or my hand... and how the web of the spider who likes to set up shop somewhere between the beauty-bush and the star-hydrangea droops—really sags, like wet wool—under the weight of the morning rain...