Thursday, February 24, 2005

I'm slacking on two levels right now, which makes me a multi-dimensional slacker. If I wanted to exercise the intellectual rigor, I'm sure I could extrapolate my slacking into all four of Ken Wilber's quadrants, which would make me an all-level, all quadrant slacker. Wait, does my recognition of that elevate my slacking to yet another dimension?

First, I'm supposed to be cobbling together some dialogue for some MTV Cribs segment as well as some consumer marketing communications. Second, I've actually started another blog entry on yoga, yoga consumerism, and the yoga industry. However, none of those options are remotely interesting to me at this time.

Therefore, I'm doing a list, because everyone loves reading lists. This list goes into effect from now until I post another one; however, never assume that I still think what's on this list is hot.

Can I even use the word "hot" anymore, or did Paris Hilton grind it into the dirt?

Oh well, on to the next.

So Hot Right Now!
Thursday, February 24

1. Lavash bread.
I have been killing it with veggie wraps lately. My secret: tahini.

2. Metal.
As in the music. For some reason, the black, stoner, doom and death genres have been sounding appreciably tangy. There is a band called Orange Goblin. They have a song called "Saruman's Wish." They absolutely shred! I could not make this up if I tried.

3. I heart kapotasana.
Forget what Yoga Journal tells you, everyone should be doing this backbend. It'll spike your nervous system, rattle your soul in its very cage, and make you pee your spandex nut-hugger yoga shorts.

4. Which brings me to urdhva dhanurasana.
Just as sweet as his cousin kapotasana, urdhva dhanurasana is coming in hot this month. I've been on the Mysore brand of back arches lately, just to see how they feel: up for five breaths, rest on the head for one, up for five breaths ... three times, two sets daily.

5. We end with low back pain.
I've been pretty good about never, ever having any, over the entire course of my yoga practice. Until last week. Hot damn, everyone was right! Back pain sucks! Thankfully it's receded over the past few days, and I'm optimistically chalking it up to an "opening."

6. Australians
You people are so friendly! Except for the drunken head-butting thing, that is.

7. Grape Nuts
The secret: sugar. Heaps and heaps of it.

8. A 2001 Volvo V70 T5 wagon
It's long, it's black, and your wife wants to go for a ride. 'Nuff said.

(I'm actually pretty gassed about having a car that starts. Every single time I put the key in the ignition!)

9. Sankalp
I'm not showing you mine until you show me yours. But suffice it to say I have been attempting to refine the roaring heat of tapas into a laser-beam of precise intention.

10. Shiva as Bhairava
These last few weeks, I've taken to offering up my practice to Shiva ... and I've been considering modifying that to Bhairava, a particular emanation of Shiva.

Bhairava is the embodiment of fear, and it is said that those who meet him must confront the source of their own fears. What if meeting Bhairava is one of your fears? I'm scared to aim my intentionality in that direction, because who knows what would arise?

I guess in this instance Hanuman might help, with his strength, faith and love.

11. Mold
Just to bring this back down to some secular ish, I'm really starting to love burying my face in moldy carpet in the studio, a result of the recent deluge that's drowned Southern California.

12. No TV
Where'd it go? Why don't I miss it?

13. Spring NYC Trip
It's in the works ...

14. The new Morrisey album
Morrisey has dropped some hammers on this one. Don't be scared to admit that the Mozzer still has some chops.

15. My back
Forget all the Cirque du Soleil jumping-around bandha histrionics. Will my back ever bend?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Situationists had something going on ... I like Debord a lot, but Vaneigem is the poet:

"Certainly, the perspective engendered by having to pass away one's life in a factory or an office in order to make the month's rent money is not one that is inclined towards the exaltation of dreams of happiness and the harmony that nourishes infancy."

"Education has to do with the creation of human beings, not with the production of commodities. Will we have revoked the absurd despotism of gods if we have tolerated the fatalism of an economy that corrupts and degrades life on the planet and in our everyday existence?"

"The only defense available to us is the will to live, allied with the consciousness that propagates it. Judging by the capacity of human beings to subvert what kills them, this will can be an invincible weapon."

Monday, February 21, 2005

You never know who's going to walk through the studio door.

In the last week, on three separate occasions, I've unexpectedly run into three friends from Mysore.

It's very gratifying to know that the personal connections I made over there have withstood the withering glare of day-to-day life. Grumpy Mysore detractors say what they will ... there's still something going on there.

Witch's Boobs and Well-diggers' Butts
My heart and thermal underwear goes out to anyone slogging to class and then practicing in sub-zero temps. Although it's less uncomfortable now than ever before, I still really dislike practicing in cold-ass weather.

I was reminded of this after listening to Mysore homie Jeff's descriptions of biking to practice in NYC, the mercury at 10 below with the wind chill.

Tim's studio doesn't have a waiting room, entryway, hall, or foyer. It's just one big room with a door. All year round, we wait for class out on the sidewalk.

An incredible luxury for which I am eternally greatful.

Ladies, Ladies---Please! Wait Your Turn!
2001 Volvo V70 T5 wagon: photos coming soon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Damn Right
tad-artha eva drsyasyatma
The universe exists to set us free.
—Yoga Sutras II.21

Ah, the Stoics
Everything is right for me, which is right for you, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early or too late, which comes in due time for you. Everything is fruit to me which your seasons bring, O Nature. From you are all things, in you are all things, to you all things return.
—Marcus Aurelius

... And From that Many, One
The whole drift of my education goes to persuade me that the world of our present consciousness is only one out of many worlds of consciousness that exist.
—William James

Sthira Sukham Asanam
At times of great stress it is especially necessary to achieve a complete freeing of the muscles.
—Konstantin Stanislavsky

Monday, February 7, 2005

The lease on the shala is up in March, so after 12 or 13 years, Tim's moving the studio. The new location is up in the air, though, because they haven't locked down a new space.

The other night I dream that Tim is moving his studio to Chicago. I picture walking to practice as the winter wind knifes in off Lake Michigan. I think, "I've just moved back to Encinitas! How the hell am I going to find a job in Chicago?"

Sunday, February 6, 2005

My alarm is set for 4:03 AM, but I always wake minutes before it goes off. Somehow my body anticipates it; often I drift back to sleep.

But sometimes I lie awake, smelling the crisp pre-dawn air and listening to the early hour's utter stillness, a stillness that reaches from my flat to the universe beyond.

In that hazy early hour, as sleep's touch is slow to recede, Mysore comes back to me, charged with dream energy, stronger and starker than it ever could be in my waking hours.

Scooter rides to the shala, my hands cold on the plastic handlebars, with cotton-swab clouds soaking up spilled-paint oranges, purples, and pinks in the pre-dawn sky. The chill cuts through my sweatshirt, and the streets, normally crammed full, are wide and deserted.

The puppy up the block from our house with a six-inch leash, the end of which is weighted to a pile of gravel with a cinderblock.

The other puppy who lived around the corner from the house, who used to follow me for three blocks as I walked to the shala, then three blocks as I walked home. The puppy became a dog right before my eyes! And one day doesn't follow me the three blocks home because she's stiffened in the ditch by the road, dark, stiff body sharp against grass so green and bright it hurt the eye to look at it.

The trip to the river, when we swam out to the rock crusted with dried birdshit. We were so careful not to put our heads under the water! We sunned and laughed and talked in the middle of the river, everything so clear and perfect, and I felt I could tell these strangers anything, and I could be anyone, most of all myself, whoever that may be, and it was right and true, and this was as perfect as life could be. We hopped in the passing coracle for the lift back to shore, the coracle an inverted hat woven from thick bamboo that by all rights should not have floated.

In the early morning hour, I often just get image fragments: peeing on rubble downtown, a passing truckful of workers cheering, I wave one-handed, deciding not to be embarassed; the spongy, manicured grass at Lalith Majal---so decadent on the bottom of my feet; "Every seed a longing" on the sign at Southern Star; hanging out the side door of the Shatabdi Express, watching green countryside clack by; the cool, dark finishing room at the shala and the mosquitoes waiting until headstand before striking.

There are more visitations, too, some moments so beautiful and pure they're painful to think about during the day, the sting of loss lessened by half-consciousness.

These visitations arrive sporadically, and sometimes not at all. I often think, "Was that me? Did I live that life? Was I that person?" Sometimes Mysore seems so very far away.

Something happened there, something more than consumption or vacation, something more than even the yoga practice. A way to be with none of the accumulated trappings of the "me" that have built up over the years, a way to shake off the habits, routines, and expectations that fix in amber the ideas of "I" and self.

My alarm will fire arbitrarily at its appointed time, clearing away the last of the dream cobwebs.

I know that when I go back to Mysore it won't be the same, and I know that I never visited this Mysore because it never existed. But the longing and the love remain, as I chisel and sand and heat my heart to keep it open, every moment of every day flooded with Mysore's numinous energy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

After years of daily dedicated practice, my legs shoot 180 degrees into the flat splits. My foot nestles behind my shoulder, below the shoulder blade, even. I bend in half backwards, reaching around to grab my thighs.

And then what?

When meeting a beautiful woman, Vimalananda, Robert Svoboda's Aghori teacher, would picture kissing the skull beneath the skin. Time melts the skin away and the skeleton that lies beneath is inevitably bound for the funeral pyre.

My body ages, decays and declines, a rented suit that becomes more and more threadbare. My legs no longer reach into perfect splits, my foot no longer fits as easily behind my head, and my spine yields less and less into back arches.

And then what?

Is a deeper backbend yoga? Is putting your leg behind your head yoga? Is that what this is all about?

Of late, "And then what?" has provided nice ballast to my physical practice. Ashtanga vinyasa can be so physically demanding sometimes that I have to be extra attentive to focusing the heat it generates.

Over the course of my life, there's been a brief span of years that I can do a handstand, a forward bend, a backbend. None of it changes the fact that I'm headed for the funeral pyre, too.