Monday, August 22, 2011

Practice, Karandavasana, Solitude

Did the "whole schlep" this morning: Full primary, and second up to Karandavasana. Figured that I'm going to need all the yoga I can get, this being the first day of the semester, with all the anxiety and nervous energy that seems to infect everybody and everything on campus at the beginning of the semester.  Moreover, I actually have an evening class to teach today, so it's going to be a long day. All the more reason to squeeze in more practice in the morning.

Did some good work on Karandavasana this morning. Had to do two attempts, as the first attempt was a crash landing in Padmasana. The second attempt was much stronger. I paid more attention to the breath and bandhas, and succeeded in landing somewhat higher above the elbows than my last few Karandavasana attempts. I tried to lift back up after five breaths. I think I succeeded in lifting my knees an inch (or maybe half an inch) off my elbows before everything just gave, and I had to exit the posture by coming down into padmasana. Is this the beginning of my getting back up into Pincha Mayurasana, or is it just, well, a fluke? Only time can tell. We'll see how the next few days unfold.


Many storms have brewed (and are still brewing) in the blogosphere in the last week or so. They are about many diverse issues, many of whom I have little first-hand knowledge of. So I am not going to comment on them, at least for now. I'm just going to try to stick to writing about my own thoughts about my practice and my own experiences. I feel that times like this remind me of the fundamental purpose of yoga blogging: At least for me, yoga blogging is essentially an extension of my yoga practice in the "real" world, both on and off the mat. As such, I feel that a chief purpose of yoga blogging lies in bringing that feeling of oneness and mindful solitude that we gain from our practice on the mat, and doing our best to translate that feeling into words on a blog post. This, at least, is my vision of what yoga blogging is about; I suppose others may disagree. As such, whatever we would not do in our "real-life" practice on and off the mat, we would also not do in the blogosphere. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, but maybe things are not always so simple.

In any case, I guess I should stop sermonizing here. I'll like to share with you some words from Rilke which I feel really expresses the sort of state of being that we yogis aspire to:

"...there is only one solitude, and it is vast, heavy, difficult to bear, and almost everyone has hours when he would gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial or cheap, for the tiniest outward agreement with the first person who comes along, the most unworthy. But perhaps these are the very hours during which solitude grows; for its growing is painful as the growing of boys and sad as the beginning of spring. But that must not confuse you. What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours - that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn't understand a thing about what they were doing.
And when you realize that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own world, from the vastness of your own solitude, which is itself work and status and vocation? Why should you want to give up a child's wise not-understanding in exchange for defensiveness and scorn, since not understanding is, after all, a way of being alone, whereas defensiveness and scorn are a participation in precisely what, by these means, you want to separate yourself from...

What is happening in your innermost self is worthy of your entire love; somehow you must find a way to work at it, and not lose too much time or too much courage in clarifying your attitude toward people. Who says that you have any attitude at all? l know, your profession is hard and full of things that contradict you, and I foresaw your lament and knew that it would come. Now that it has come, there is nothing I can say to reassure you, I can only suggest that perhaps all professions are like that, filled with demands, filled with hostility toward the individual, saturated as it were with the hatred of those who find themselves mute and sullen in an insipid duty. The situation you must live in now is not more heavily burdened with conventions, prejudices, and false ideas than all the other situations, and if there are some that pretend to offer a greater freedom, there is nevertheless none that is, in itself, vast and spacious and connected to the important Things that the truest kind of life consists of. Only the individual who is solitary is placed under the deepest laws like a Thing, and when he walks out into the rising dawn or looks out into the event-filled evening and when he feels what is happening there, all situations drop from him as if from a dead man, though he stands in the midst of pure life."

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, trans. Stephen Mitchell


  1. I LOVE Rilke. Thank you for putting him back on my reading list. His words that you quoted in one of your posts ("Dig deep into yourself....") resonated with me so strongly when I read it over a year ago, and to this day it still gives me the chills.

    Totally agree with your point about 'mindful solitude' with regards to blogging...heck, it should be something that we're seeking to practice in all aspects of our life, blogger or not!

  2. I'm happy to encounter a fellow Rilke-lover :-)