Thursday, January 15, 2009


I get asked from time to time if I ever get bored doing the same asanas, the same sequences, over and over again.

I'm going to come clean about the asanas: for the most part, they are fucking difficult for me. Whichever sequence I'm practicing still demands a ton of my concentration and breathing.

It's not that I don't juggle the sense of routine with an urge for novelty. Maybe I lack imagination or creativity.

Boredom is, in many ways, a blessing, at least during the seated practices, because for me it means a certain level of my mind is rattling its cage for novelty and stimulation, usually because it wants to avoid an impending quietude.

The question as to the boredom of a set sequence arises from people who have, I think, a fundamentally different conception as to the purpose of the asanas. Asanas can be therapeutic tools, they can make you fitter, stronger, more pliable, they can help you lose weight, they can prepare you for meditation. They can be tools and they can be medicine.

This is quite different from a sense of asanas as ends in themselves. If asana is the fourth limb of an eight-limbed plant, then asana is yama, asana is pranayama, asana is samadhi. None of them are separate. However, as Pattabhi Jois has said about the eight limbs: "The first four can be taught. The last four can only be caught."

I'll give it another 10 years. Maybe at that point I'll have sufficient physical mastery of the asanas, the transitions into and out of them, their sequencing, and the most skillful application of bandhas and drishti, in order to allow boredom to more fully arise.