Monday, May 9, 2011

The Repertoire

It occurred to me lately that my own home practice is at a little bit of a stand still. I'm working deeply and subtly and am learning quite a bit that way. But at the same time I've reached a place where I have a level of competency in some poses and I'm "satisfied" with them, but am not particularly reaching out for more. Of course, there's no reason I have to reach for more. But why stop here?
In the past my excuse would always be "I don't have a teacher to lead me there." But that's kind of bunk. I don't have a Certified teacher, it's true. But I do have a mat, and the Syllabus poster, and Light on Yoga, and I do have some working knowledge of the general actions and principles needed for each class of the poses. Seriously, not having a teacher has in many ways been a huge gift and learning experience in relying on myself as the lead researcher in the experimentation that is getting on my mat each day.
I think I just don't go for more sometimes because it's easy not to. And because, if I am unable to do it right away, somehow I think I'm not meant to ever do it. One of the downsides of not being in classes regularly is that I forget the benefits of slowly working towards an eventual outcome.

It's time to commit to learning a new pose... or even an entire new level of syllabus. Levels 2 and 3 here we come.

In my experience, building the repertoire of poses (or life behaviors) takes only one thing. Repetition. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Repetition in the sort-of approximation of behavior sort of way. As in, get as close as you can to the pose you want and do it over and over and over again. I mean, it is called yoga Practice, right?
So if it's a handstand press-up (yes, I'd like to do that one day) stand there and try to do it with educated alignment, and also hang out on the wall for a while to build more strength and inversion time. Or if it's a deep hip opener like lotus, or leg behind the head... do the preparatory work to open the hips and then get as close as you can without force and strain and just hang out. The only two poses I ever really really wanted to add to my repertoire (my friend calls this pose lust) were Bakasana and Handstand kick-up to the wall. And the only way I finally got them into regular use was by trying over and over and over again. I literally committed to doing them each and every time I got on my mat. Over and Over and Over again. No judgement, just commitment. And move on when done. And then one day I just did the pose and it was done. (years after starting in the case of Bakasana)

And so I write this post as a reminder to myself to commit and get experimental on the mat again, and as a little reminder to you to do the same. Commit, try it out, and be easy on yourself. Let's see what happens. Anyway, just my thought as you start your week. Maybe you have a pose you're thinking of adding to your bag of yoga mat tricks: commitment and Grace and lightness of heart seem to be what get us there.

I think I'll pick 5 and see what happens. Here they are in random order:

Pinche Myerasana with no wall assistance
Surya yantrasana

(Ok, I probably should have picked from different categories, but this is what I'm pose-lusting after at the moment. And they are all ones which will require slow deliberate and committed practice to master. I'll let you know how it goes)

Contemplation: What poses are you jonesing to add to your repertoire and what are you doing to get there?


Jennifer Fields YogaLifeWay said...

Wow, I was just thinking about this topic this weekend. I also don't have a certified teacher nearby to mentor me in the advanced poses. So my home practice, and the classes I teach, sometimes feel stagnant in level 1 and 2 poses.
And I had decided just yesterday it was time to just get to it and learn them myself! Thank you for reinforcing that for me!
Funny, bakasana was also one of my I want to do that someday poses ( now I can) and unassisted handstand I'm still working on. Again, thanks for the reminder today.

dancingyogini said...

jennifer, i'm glad this post inspired you and is on topic for you. As far as unassisted handstand goes... have you checked out Betsey Downing's video? her suggestions are amazing (and hard!)

It was so inspiring to me to even write the post, it reminded me to look at some pictures and decide what I want to do. And then, I couldn't wait to get on my mat to get to work/play.
happy practicing even in the midst of all you have going on in your life.