Clouds In The Head

Yoga or …
31 January, 2013, 9:45 pm
Filed under: beauty & inspirationalitism, Nobody Loves A Thinker

This quote at the conclusion for Donna Farhi’s book, Bringing Yoga To Life. “Does Yoga practice change who we are? … We feel, taste, and touch the same things but through an intensified register.”

Isn’t this aka Poetics?

Surely Poetics is exactly what it is.

Isn’t this the vocab and life experience that gives us an image repertoire for understanding our living more intensely? Better, “intently” because it’s about paying attention, removing ourselves, instead asserting our capacity as poet, possibly of the Brechtian kind, and applying it to how we live, move, communicate, interrelate, wish, react.

What I love about Yoga (capital is Farhi’s usage) is that it includes within its Poetics a physicality of body knowledge.

And it has about it the idea of “Becoming Clear”, which is also the attitude of the reformed junkie, of the politician at epiphany with less than one term to go, of the woman leaving an abusive relationship. To remove ourselves from what is abusive is a game of ego in a line of flight that goes up but does not know where the parabola ends.

Which is Yoga and Poetics, inter-evolved.

It’s all ballistic in the end, nest-ce pas?


Project 2 my yoga practice
31 January, 2013, 8:49 am
Filed under: Daily maily

I’ve been putting it off forever but the time has come to start developing my own personal yoga practice. I’ve got a book (given to My Love by a student), lots of resources by such luminaries as Moyer, Iyengar, Farhi, Grzybowski, Yee, Walden, Corne. I’ve got mats, blankets, bolsters, belts, blocks and even as of Christmas (thanks Nini & Denis) a back bender I share with My Love.

And I’ve got injuries, difficulties, needs, attitudes …

What I don’t have, despite having a yoga teacher for a wife, is much of an idea about how to proceed. Donna Farhi talks about the necessity of developing one’s own practice and how surprisingly uncommon home practice is for students of regular classes. “While having a teacher’s guidance and outer direction is imperative at many stages of Yoga practice, we make a quantum leap when we begin to direct our own practice.” (I love that use of “quantum” – the tiniest difference in energy possible within an atom’s electron field is used to describe a massive change of state in the macro world.) Ms Farhi talks about the “inner guide” we have to trust, and lists the range of qualities that guide might have.

She makes it sound like an exciting, if at times difficult, adventure. “When we start to practice on our own [she uses the US spelling of “practice”], it is as if we light a fire under ourselves. This fire brings the deep essence of the teachings to the surface. Just as a rich stew, once eaten and digested, becomes a part of our body, when we practice on our own the teachings become a part of us.” She also advises to consider the inner teacher as separate to us, not only to ensure I/he turn up for class every day or so, but also to allow that inner guide not to simply or entirely be a projection of our own self vision. She suggests setting realistic goals, keeping a notebook, starting by following the style or practice of people you admire, incorporate other ideas to keep things fresh, not neglecting the other yoga limbs, making friends with your inner teacher …

“An empty room, a mat, our body, and focused awareness — these are the simple means we use to open to the wholeness that waits within.”

One more gift from the Farhi – all referencing her book Bringing Yoga To Life – is a wonderful chapter on “Intention”, which she likens to the paper upon which the words we are reading are written, structuring and enabling those words to exist. “I cannot stress enough the importance of setting an intention at the beginning of practice, for this sets the stage for all that will follow.”

where it happens

where it happens

I’ll follow up on “intention” later. What might some intentions be? How can one hold onto them? How different might a class with or without an intention feel?

For the moment, given my sprained wrist, I’m gong to start with Donald Moyer’s “Three Diaphragms” practice – leaving out the poses that might hurt my wrist and adding to the poses that won’t. It’ll be about a half hour class and I’ll throw in my first go on the back bender along the way. My intention will be to listen carefully to my body and “be” in the pose with certainty rather than trying to go too far.

Wish me luck.

Update on Project 1 my posture. The hard part is realising and then re-connecting to the better posture – “OMFG I’m all slouchy, wait on, er, let’s see, pelvis, hips, front body, sacrum, er, and I was making tea wasn’t I?” Hopefully the shift will become automatic before too long.

Project 1 my posture
26 January, 2013, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Daily maily
Project begins: The "before" picture. Please don't kick sand in my face.

Project begins: the “before” picture. Please don’t kick sand in my face.

This year I have a bunch of projects I want to achieve. Some of them are simply to do with our home – eg we have to re-fence the house paddock before we let the neighbour re-agist cattle in June. Some are to do with writing and filmmaking – eg working with Scott Patterson on a couple of features, editing Russell Workman’s book. Some to do with my loved ones – I’m in a band for some reason, possibly, maybe. And some with me personally – starting with improving my posture.

And I’m doing them all yogically! (Which the word-completer thing changed to logically.) About which more soon.

Project 1 is my posture. Since my teens I’ve had a slouch, a hump, a Quasimodo-like Igoresque creature on my back. My neck protrudes forward, my adam’s apple is like a rock in my throat. My lower back over-sways, my C7 thrusts backwards. My shoulders are rounded, my chest a little sunken, my arms start from sockets that are further forward than they ought to be. It’s a wonder I’ve ever managed to get so many chicks.

I’ve worked on it sporadically for years. From Colin at the Powerhouse telling me to tighten up my buttocks, to others (possibly mothers) telling me to push my chest out. My yoga teacher wife has tried various fixes too. Sacrum back, drop your shoulderblades, lower ribs back, lift your chest.

I haven’t been religious about it though and a few days ago I discovered why. My Love has often suggested practising Tadasana (the mountain pose – feet together, stand straight, that’s more or less it (!) for this core yoga pose) against a wall. I’ve tried it, tried taking what I learn from it into my yoga and into my day. But it’s never felt “right”. Never made me say “ah”. Until last week, when a simple movement of the pelvis/hip girdle made me say “ah”.

I tilted my front pelvis down, without lifting my sacrum or back pelvis, without thrusting my cock forward, and then lifted my torso out of that place. My front body and sides I lifted from the front pelvis. My back body I lifted from my  back pelvis. My whole body changed perceptibly according to My Love.

I’ve been doing it ever since. Not all the time. You don’t change the rotten habits of a lifetime overnight. (The dream cure would have been a simple adjustment and then my whole spine going click click click into a brand new macho alignment that can’t revert to its old horror-movie shape.) But when I remember, and make the adjustment, stretching my sides up, I find myself taking a breath that is shorter and more constricted, and then another breath that is full and fantastic and seems to reach sections of my lungs that had been boarded up for years. Or something. Finding words for this new sensation is not easy.

And I walk different. More of a swagger, with a bit of a clomp. More male. Bit like Jackie Chan. Slower. And my arms are different. They hang from the sockets in the middle of my body (side elevation) rather than forward and always gripped. They’re just there. And my head sits differently.

But it’s early days. Sometimes I think I’m doing it and My Love says “Posture!” and I have to make the adjustment again and find it again. I’m not quite sure what to do when I’m seated, especially on a sofa. Running is different. Breathing differently is confronting. Looking down at a kitchen bench while standing is a brand-new activity – how do people do it, what’s the mechanism, do I tilt from my jaw hinge or push out my neck?

But I feel like a breakthrough has been made, which is why it’s Project 1. I’ll keep the planet (I think there’s about 4 of you) informed here about progress.

References: Georges Perec, Species Of Spaces. Donna Farhi, Bringing Yoga To Life.