I am going to be out of town in August for one of my regularly scheduled class sessions, so today I made up half of that class by attending a two-hour “Reports & Discussion” session. During each of these Reports sessions, one yama/niyama is discussed during the first hour, then one asana (pose) is explored for the second hour.
Today’s yama was Brahmacharya, which is celibacy. We talked about the “ancient times” application of the yama (i.e., the letter-of-the-law definition, and how people upheld it way back in the old old days), then brought the conversation to the present day and discussed how one can live by the spirit-of-the-law in modern society. The conversation was interesting, but nothing terribly poignant came up for me during it, so, there you go. Done and done.
The pose we dug into today was Plank/Chaturanga. (Okay, technically, these are two separate poses, but Chaturanga is basically an extension of Plank – or, at least, it can be. You can do Plank without Chaturanga; but it’s pretty difficult [impossible?] to do Chaturanga without Plank. Anyway…) Plank is a decent pose for me; I’ve been doing it every morning for literally years now (as an abdominal strengthener more than a yoga pose, but the same general principles apply), so that was fine. However, as I was examining Chaturanga, and as others were examining my Chaturanga, I had a very valuable learning: In the “usual” placement of my hands and feet, I was making this difficult pose even more difficult. I was making the pose harder than I ‘needed’ to, harder than what it should have been, even harder than what it was intended to be. Talk about a life learning on the yoga mat – how many times have I done this in the past (i.e., made things more difficult than what they really were, and certainly what they ‘needed’ to be)? I learned the proper placement of where my hands and my feet should go; and while the pose feels slightly awkward right now (new things often do), I trust that these adjustments really are better for me, that in the long run, the “right” way will prove to be much more helpful than “my” way. Time to apply this learning to more than ‘just’ yoga.