sgv wisdom of no escape
I broke my ankle 15 years ago and has been pretty clumsy on my left side ever since because of that or more likely a subconscious embodiment of the fear, doubt and not being able to forgive the past - I’m weaker on my left side. Some meathead in South America tore the connective tissue over my left ribs while rolling with me in the jiu-jitsu class. It took me years to stop noticing pain and be sensitive in that area, but even today, many years later I see how the left side of my torso under-performs in twists, plows, handstands. Then the damn Ashtangis, they wrap the left leg over right into lotus postures, leaving left knee slightly less flexed but more rotated. I never liked playing with my knees but because of the many years’ of avoiding chairs, standing and seating on the floor cross-legged, I was quite open in my hips by the time I did Ashtanga inspired classes in California. Straight-lines pigeon without any gaps between the mat and my hips, double it, fold down in front to the side, armpit into the upper foot arc - no problem!
The left knee failed when my practice became stale, I had to travel much and usually did bouldering and 60-minutes hot classes. I had to see it coming, but I didn’t. My left knee has issues at medial meniscus area, that doesn’t bother me in walking and talking, but any left-leg balancing and knee-bending, I had to give up climbing because it became dangerous to overuse my right leg and over-grab all the time. My self-diagnosis will be medial meniscus tear (and maybe medial collateral ligament too) accompanied by tight left-side ITB, weak left quadriceps and calf muscles. I also have left foot supination to the big toe. The last one is kind of cute because I used to be like that on both feet with zero arches before I switched to barefoot lifestyle 7-10 years ago.
I’m working on two things here. First to raise my awareness about existing patterns i.e. watching my supinated foot with the laterally rotated knee or overusing hills in postural practice. Working on strengthening ITB, quads, and calf. Second to reverse the injury without dealing with butcher-shop aka the American medical system. If things will get worse I’ll probably go to my bio-hacker buddies and inject some peptides or whatever they will come up with to date, that will keep me away from surgery.
My major limitations to achieve the goals above is time and the conflict of focus, the travel factor also remains. I can not possibly remove all the distractions from my life, also some distractions are very cute ;-). But when I can’t fix everything it doesn’t mean I should fix nothing and follow on with the modern-day conventional wisdom, - work hard till I get to the terminal hemorrhoids, then pay someone to fix my body “à la carte,” probably my relationships and life too. Not this boychik.
My universal limiting factor is always “too much brain,” using B.’s language. I’m conditioned to create large scalable models, collect all the best resources (books, podcasts, reputable names as advisors), plan it hard and then find it too much to handle. Like the fridge that is stocked up with all the good food, and you gaze inside and can’t decide where do you begin.
One of the practices that I’ve been playing with for the past few years is setting up the immediate intention for the very moment of now, not the next now, but this now. It resembles mindfulness (meditation) but I discovered more marrow material in alchemic Taoist scripts.
This brings me to one of my most significant inner goals - create meaning! And while my quasi-Ashkenazi mind wanders into co-creating the Universal Meaning, my body keeps reminding me that I need to lay the bricks one by one, to build a house, so I can decorate it, so I can move in, so I can invite friends over, so I can find the fulfillment.
I’m very good at seeing through bullshit, that’s partially why I rarely finishing things (the other part requires few more years of self-therapy). Here, there is a chance I will never show up on Friday to graduate. Caught up with “work,” reminding myself that I was ready to be done with the training last week, not tired, but rather “got what I paid for,” and a little annoyed by B. is giving me that look, as if I finger-banged his cat, while I’m feel stressed losing valuable time and doing absolutely nothing for important and tangible things. I fucked up many people during these two weeks. But I’m still curious if there are any rabbits left in that hat.
What I learned during the training is rather invaluable. I learned that there are more people who believe that yoga is full of crap, and mindless repetition of the exercises tailored for young Indian boys less than a hundred years ago may not be the only path to enlightenment. Also, it was Krishnamacharya and not Pattabhi Jois who fed "evidence of 1000-year postural yoga" to ants, B. I also found the role model for myself both good and bad one, someone I can learn from and someone I don’t want to become. Most importantly I practiced to talk about my body movements and accommodate multiple disciplines (Ido Portal, Katonah, controlled articulated rotations etc.) into a single practice, I’ll keep building upon. Laying the bricks.
I insist that very few could be called “a yoga teacher.” But I can’t blame people to want to become a yoga instructor. NY Times just posted an article about CorePower leading the way to every American will be trained as one. Which is insane but doesn’t surprise me. It looks cool to lead the yoga class. You are in front of many people that are staring at you all Lululemon-ed up. All the girls want to be with you, all the guys want to be you, or the other way around… But the reality is that aside of the shitty pay and hard work the world doesn’t need more yoga instructors. The world needs people to be better aware of their bodies, to be self-reliant and responsible for their own thing.
But I have to point out these three most important things to grow as a teacher, so here they are:”
There is no excuse for attempting to help others when you can’t help yourself. If you are above 20% bodyfat - loose weight (I did!). Grow self-awareness, grow love and deepen in the relationship with your body. This is the only relationship you will be at your entire life.
Grow in your practice, and teach things you can actually do, or at least getting there. The better it gets the better it gets. Be your practice. Walk your talk.
Grow your respect and compassion to your students and ingrain the one simple truth - you are not their teacher, they are their teachers, you are only a reminder, not even a map but a street-sign vaguely pointing in the right direction. Humbleness is a bliss!
Thanks for training me!
Clippings from “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: a Biography” by David Gordon White