Saturday, 3 March 2012

Maya (illusion) and fear

Maya (Sanskrit माया māya), in Indian religions, has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us.

The ashtanga system never fails to impress me in its capacity to demonstrate the duality of my existence. 

The practice is a constant reminder of what I think I know to be true and what is actual. 

So I have begun to practice the second series and last night was the first practice at the Buddhist Centre with James Critchlow. I practiced up to Mari D of primary then into second and got as far as ardha matsyendrasana before my time run out, sadly. In post last post I mentioned laghu vajrasana and kapotasana, which Id tried on my own in the week and failed miserably to get into. Then I made a yoga rope and found a way to lower myself into it quite safely, although I didn't manage to get the head to the floor. Kapotasana was a completely different matter though, I couldn't find a way into it and my upper back seized up, preventing my from lifting my arms overhead and doing anything in the posture. I was very fearful of my back breaking, or my discs herniating or my thighs not holding out and me landing on my head. But most of all I was absolutely convinced that my body would not go into the posture. However....

...All my fears were proved to be pure illusion (maya) as James lowered me into laghu vajrasana with ease, still holding my thighs and then to kapotasana where it felt easy to place my hands on the floor! James then pulled each wrist in towards my feet and I held onto my toes. Once in the postures I felt an amazing release of the fear which was creating tension in my body and holding me back from attaining the posture and I managed to work a little deeper. James said he could feel the release physically. He also said that he knew what my spine could do and knew it was fear holding me back. He said the longer he teaches yoga (and he's been teaching since the 70s) the more he believes that it is therapy for the rest of your life. 

As an aside...James was telling some great stories last night about his journey of teaching. Apparently back in the day, the 90's probably, he got David Swenson over to do workshops all the time in Birmingham, before he he turned yoga superstar.  He's been teaching as long as David and knows him well. He was also telling us about when he first heard of ashtanga, he as doing Iyenga at the time and couldn't believe there was another form of yoga, then he met someone who'd been to Greece to practice this dynamic form, similar to what Iyenga students know as 'jumpings', then he met Derek and Radha and that was it. He was teaching Iyenga and then slowly his Iyenga class became an ashtanga class. He says his first proper full primary led class lasted 2.5hrs as he'd keep forgetting what was next... I guess there weren't cheat sheets back in the day! Sounds like good times.

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