Sunday, August 26, 2007

What's It All About, Alfie?

Anybody here not know why we do ashtanga? To get the next pose. Right? Anybody disagree? Raise your mouse. You lie. We may wish it were for all that other stuff, but in the nitty-gritty real world we all sweat in, it's about quantitative evaluation. You do better, you get more poses. You don't get poses, you're not good enough to get them. The simplicity is attractive. It's honest, understandable and it works. We get into it, get motivated, do more and maybe inadvertently gather other benefits as well. But, for most, and probably all of us, the true motivator is: what's next.

So, why blather about this? Well, I was trying to assess if it's possible for me to get a pose. Ever. Regardless of what i am able to do athletically. There are factors that could make progression, and therefore satisfaction, impossible. Namely, access.

Obviously, poses are given in Mysore classes. At our studio, Mysore classes with the teacher who gives out poses are on Monday thru Friday, only. so that eliminates one sixth of my chances right there (working with the theoretic six practice per week regimen). Another quirk of ashtanga is that classes aren't held on moon days. presume 2 moon days per month, which will fall on Mysore class days 71% of the time. Also, the norm is to not give poses on Tuesdays, an inauspicious day (Mars' day) in Hindu culture. Scratch another four days. So, where am i so far? 30 days minus 8-9 weekend days, minus four Tuesdays, minus 1.4 moon days, that's 13.4 days gone already. Ok, the big kahuna, being a senior teacher, usually is out of town on a weekend teaching junket twice a month. Typically, he used to be gone from Thursday thru Sunday. Lately, however, he has been out for Monday too (travel recovery day?). so that's another six days per month lost to me. Two thirds of the month is already history and i haven't even entered the studio yet.

I'm one of those 'normal' people, the pretenders, one who actually has a day job that limits my ability to make it to Mysore classes. At our studio, the Mysore classes are from 7-9am on M-W-F and are from 9-11am on T&Th. Since my typical day on call starts at either 7:30a or 8:00a, the only time i can get to a M-W-F class is if i am in clinic in the morning. On those days, I can schedule my clinic to start at 10:00 and work thru lunch to make up for the late start. The only time I can make it to Mysore on T & Th is if i work overnight the night before. I get off a bit after 8, drive up and usually can make it to the studio right at or shortly after the class starts, presuming no last minute crash c-sections, etc. So, if i am to make it to Mysore, i have to either be in clinic on a M-W-F, or I have to have been on call Wed night.

Looking over the last few months, I was on call on a Wednesday night only once each month, so that takes away another three days. I was in clinic in the morning no more than twice in a given month on M-W-F. So, that gives me 2-3 days in an average month in which i might see and be seen by my teacher in a Mysore setting.


I've got two chances a month, essentially, to practice and show enough worth to be advanced. and some months, it's not even that many. There are usually many other practice chances, usually led classes, Saturday classes, or the second Mysore class, led by another teacher. Not classes in which I could "progress" though.


So, what's it all about? Self delusion. I don't think teachers think you're a real student, a serious student, one who they might think about progressing, when you're only there twice a month.

Now, this shouldn't be misconstrued as a whiny, "i deserve to be given a pose but I'm being unfairly passed over" thing. I know that I'm not doing the poses near the end of my practice well. and may not ever be able to do so. This is more a diatribe about how we can fool ourselves into thinking that we're like every one else, all the daily practice people, when, we're not. we're the de facto strap hangers, the carpet baggers. we have a place and more power to us for whatever we can accomplish, but, no matter what our ability, we won't ever be able to do what comparable daily Mysore people do, because we won't get the chance.

it still beats going home and playing internet poker.

44 comments:

karen said...

"Raise your mouse." That's the funniest thing I've read in a long while.

When's the last time you got poses? You're pretty well along in second, no? So somewhere along the line the Big Kahuna gave you poses. Is your schedule different now?

I'd imagine your teacher knows your life circumstances well enough to realize that your showing up at all is indication of a good bit of dedication...

okrgr said...

2 years ago, nakrasana. but that and mayurasana were mercy poses. i can't do karandavasana.

i guess it sounds like i was complaining about not being given poses when i though i should be, or because others are. that wasn't my intent. what i was actually trying to whine about was cirtcumstance i guess. the cruel world in which all my expectations are not met.

cranky housefrau said...

how about those of us who see a teacher once or twice a year? i couldn't care less about getting the next pose. i had been pretty happily stopping where i had been stopping last April, the last time i saw my teachers, and was basically told i needed to do more. and that was fine. it was nice. but i have spent half of the years i have been practicing, practicing entirely alone. i am not out for anyones approval or validation and the only person i have to compare myself to is me. and i am not very competitive. i used to feel sorry for myself for practicing alone all the time. for not being able to see a teacher on a regular basis. last year when i went back to see my teachers i felt like my friends had so surpassed me in their practices, and i felt miserable. i don't know what changed, or when or how. but i would suggest if you feel this way about your practice stop going to class, stop practicing with other people. then you will know that you are just doing your practice for yourself. it is my feeling that if you can't enjoy your practice on a regular basis by yourself, then you aren't really enjoying your practice. and then, yes...what is it all for?

karen said...

Yeah, I got that (that it was about circumstances rather than being given poses). They do kind of tend to bleed together, though, psychologically. At least that's true for me.

okrgr said...

hey cranks, give me a break. after a whole month, i finally work up a good whine and you tell me, "man up, you pussy, i never get a real teacher"? it's hard enough coming up with something to write about. don't make me defend it too!!

cranky housefrau said...

Dr.A, i am not trying to be an asshole, or self rightious, even though it might sound that way. but really truly, the fact that i only answer to myself has been the best thing in the world for my practice.
and i hate the word pussy. i would never call you a pussy, i would tell you to MAN-UP, Dr.A!

okrgr said...

just yankin your chain. i get way more than my fair share of breaks

laksmi said...

oh, is this yoga chickie's blog? growling, you are thinking WAY too much. here's what you need to do: since Tim never sees you, he probably has no idea who you are. Just give yourself the next fucking pose. he won't notice. What IS your next pose?

laksmi said...

i said pussy a couple of times to tova today.

okrgr said...

no, everybody else does that. i'm not going to. plus, i have a plan. i expect that some day, he'll walk up and say to me something like, "hey, john ,why stopping at nakrasana?" I'll respond, "well, because you never told me i could keep going." then, feeling guilty that he didn't realize i'd been at nakrasana for two years, like a big ol fat bass, he'll take the bait and tell, me with a magnanimous teacherly smile, "well, then today, keep going." then i'm going to whip thru those last poses at warp speed and keep going thru as many third poses as i can before i get caught. then i'll get that self rightous look in my eye when questioned about what the hell i think i'm doing and tell him, "you told me to keep going."

i've been planning this for years now.

okrgr said...

he sees me all the time, well not all the time, but plenty. we're just rarely in his mysore class together

okrgr said...

problem is, i don't do vatayanasana too well on the first side. i tend to fall over. i'll have to delay until he walks the other way and hope i can nail it enough to not draw his attention. if it were any of the other remaing poses, i'd have no worries. well, except for that stupid urdhva supta padma rolly uppy thing before the head stands. but nobody does that one very well

okrgr said...

ashtanga doctor to be, heal thyself first. read the last twenty or so posts of your own before denying me one little angst filled entry

okrgr said...

and note that, not only did i mention you in my pie post, i linked you, thereby further increasing your google income. three letters: B M W

okrgr said...

tova, our issues are similar but different. my dissatisfaction centers around the fact that i do go to mysore classes. classes led by one of the pre-eminant teachers around. i have the "i go to class" expectations, not the "i'm on my own and i'm happy with what i can do on my own" expectations. i am motivated by just those things you are not. the tough pill for me to swallow is the background message of "you're not good enough", even if it is due to circumstances beyond my control

okrgr said...

this is all just fall out from an "i'm feeling old" day

okrgr said...

'a' or 'an' there lax?

okrgr said...

i feel bad. i called her a pussy too. man up tova. make the pie. eat the pie. then tell if it's any good. i won't feel bad if you don't like it. my mom might roll over in her ash box, but i would understand.

cranky housefrau said...

Dr.A. i will try the pie. but it might be a while. there were not 30-40 people at the rehearsal dinner, more like 20-30. so i have lots of leftover key lime pie.
i do understand your practice angst. i feel old too. i know i am not OLD, but after you turn thirty, the signs of aging that no amount of good health can stave off start to show up. and don't tell anyone, but i feel fat, too, i just hate it when people complain about that crap, so i try to keep my mouth shut. i would just like it if there was some woman out there who was totally fine with her body, so i pretend it is me.
eh, whatever, we are doing better than playing internet poker, and drinking beer and watching nascar, eating mcdonalds 5 times a week, smoking in a car with our kids...yeah, i think we are ok :)

okrgr said...

that physician heal thyself snipe was directed at lax and not you, btw.

okrgr said...

give yourself a break and go with the french silk. i think you have your own chocolate pie, yes? let me know if i've being overly rapturous. it's the only chocolate pie i know

laksmi said...

omg, tova, you've been pretending?

Acorn, I think I'm known as a whiner/bitcher/complainer. Just because I am does not mean I can't tell others not to do it. That's the beauty of me.

And you were way off on preeminent.

laksmi said...

oh, and I'm feeling REALLY old--I've got ten years on Tovalation. How old are you acorn? I've really been feeling the creaks. It's disturbing. I didn't want to believe it, but it's true. It can't be anything but age.

DiVAS said...

thank your for whining on behalf of us non-daily practice people!

cranky housefrau said...

i have a very active imagination, so most of the time i am convinced i love my body. just sometimes i go "oh my GOD, what i am thinking feeling ok about myself, when i clearly don't fit a societal standard of acceptable body size!" and then i feel like crap for a while, but it takes a lot less energy just to be content, and ultimately i am too lazy to put in the energy to feel bad about myself.
and pie is tastier when you don't feel guilty.

Anonymous said...

Ashtanga isn't about getting new poses. It's about getting a sleek buffed body.

cranky housefrau said...

i am soooo losing on that one. i like pie too much!

sanjaya said...

Can't Kiran give you poses? I thought she taught mysore at Tim's?

okrgr said...

tim gives the poses. there's tons of folks who take poses. but only tim gives them

suzie said...

geez, okrgr, you are a role model for many of us. An older guy (though younger than me I think) who is a stalwart 2d series practicioner. And you do some of 3d, too, in Tim's improv classes, right? So what if you can't do karavandasana? How many people in the ashtanga world can? I've heard of, maybe, 5 and seen with my own eyes, 2 who can partly do it, but not perfectly.

okrgr said...

you set your sights too low. i am a poor model. truthfully. not being self deprecating. no self loathing.

i never practice at home. i never do any of those things i keep saying i'm going to do to get stronger, get better. i just go to class. i have a lazy practice. i frequently quit when i don't feel like doing it, yesterday and today for example. i just go as often as i can. that's not role model material

boodiba said...

I practice because:

1) It's the best, most challenging exercise program I ever found. It keeps me way buffer & sleeker than my gym rat fixation ever did.
2) For the finishing poses. I think it's all about how I feel in finishing.

okrgr said...

lol, i've seen you say that on your blog before. usually, i'm just the opposite. by the time i get to those poses, i just don't have the patience for any more exertion. i usually just flash them, but if i'm in a bad mood, i'll skip them. i can perceive their inward turning nature, but i'd just as soon lay down

laksmi said...

i do it for sivasana. oh, and the varting.

boodiba said...

3) I do it for the tick tocks...

Now that I've left the wall in my hand standing, I'm feeling very liberated. I wish I could put my feet on my head. Can't. I CAN hover though, in a wide-wide Vrischi. Then I plop my feet down and think Woo Hoo! There's a dilf behind me.

Har, har, har.

boodiba said...

He likes to "catch" me blogging and read over my shoulder.

okrgr said...

oh, i was thinking that that was what you were thinking while you did vrischi.

what up dilf? boodiba had been appropriately discrete, but since you and the eastern half of the family have engaged here, fill us in. i gather there's a ms dilf. any dilf-lets? are you a sock design person too? handkerchiefs? ties? thongs? for that matter, what is it that you really do?

boodiba said...

Oh - he's over in the ladies' underwear. I'll answer for him, since he won't see this.

While not "managing" his staff of recent grads, he spends his time amusing himself & the rest of us.

There is indeed a milf. She's creative too. They have one "spawn".

okrgr said...

no. no. i didn't mean what is he doing now literally. i understand he has certain urges, that's apparant. he can wear whatever he wants in my book. i meant what does he do for a living. just curious about the person behind the f-ness

okrgr said...

just was struck with one of those "oh, duuuh!" moments: to be a dilf, one would have to have dilf-lets, eh?

must remember: write, then read, than think, THEN hit enter

Arturo said...

Hi Okie
I think I'm about at your level, and I have to master pincha mayurasana first, unless I rebelled and practiced only at home, giving myself all the poses. But I would not do them very well. I empathize and "I feel your pain." I get to the shala more days than you do but I complicate my "progress" (in your terms) by working with two teachers, in different shalas. The second shala I go to on Sundays. This week because of the holidays I feel as if I have regressed entirely. My practice has been practically non-existent. So next week will feel like I'm starting all over.

One thing, though, a few months ago my body was in pain from too much primary practice, or the half primary half second practice, so I stayed home to practice, except for Fridays. When my teacher found out I was in physical pain she allowed me to make some modifications to my practice that resulted eventually in having my second series practice separated and the improvement on my poses has been much greater. Why do I bring this up? Could you talk with TM about your concern regarding your perceived lack of progress?
Blessings.
Arturo

Arturo said...

By the way, I tend to write comments before reading other people's comments, because I don't want to be influenced in saying what is on my mind. Then I read other's comments. So now that I've read about what you describe regarding the "urdhva supta padma rolly uppy thing", it brings to mind that I think it was Tim himself who said (or was it Richard Freeman? This was a handy-me-down story from my first mysore teacher) that in his own practice he does not do the entry into this position holding the toe with the hand that then you roll over, because it hurts his wrist. But that when he goes to Mysore, in front of the family, he does the entry according to the correct method, and then lives with the wrist pain for the month he is there. Ouch! If I had the same problems, and I think I do from the last time I criminally practiced this asana, I would opt for not hurting my wrist. I need it healthy for my architecture work.
Cheers, Arturo

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