Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance
The above advice was given to Haruki Murakami's protagonist in the novel Dance Dance Dance by another character. It's hard to explain the context in which the advice was given. As with many of Murakami's works, trying to explain one thing properly would involve explaining a highly complicated plot with many surreal and supernatural elements; so if you want to know the exact context, I highly recommend you read the novel, which I think is one of Murakami's better works (all of his works are good, in my opinion, but this one is, well, better).
In any case, there is at least one area of our practice to which this advice definitely does not apply: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. From what I've heard, one of Sharath's most-repeated exhortations in UHP is: No Dancing! If you are new to Ashtanga, "dancing" in the context of UHP refers to the action in which the Ashtangi, struggling to keep his or her balance, repeatedly sways from side to side or even hops around a little bit in order to prevent himself or herself from toppling over. Indeed, if you are new to Ashtanga, you may be a regular dancer even if you don't know that this is what the phenomenon is called.
Actually, you don't have to be new to Ashtanga to be a dancer in UHP. I've been a full-time Ashtangi for more than three years now (which probably still counts as "new", in the bigger picture), and I still dance in UHP. This morning, for instance, I was dancing so much on the second side that my left heel crashed onto the kitchen counter with a resounding thud; well, you might also say that I gave the kitchen counter a heel kick (the martial arts applications of yoga asanas... :-)). The kitchen counter was unharmed, but my heel certainly took a beating...
Over the last couple of years, several people have given me different perspectives on what causes dancing in UHP. Claudia told me some time ago that the antidote to dancing is simply Sharath's presence. Apparently, when you are in Sharath's presence (whether at the KPJAYI or during his world tour), you are so nervous and/or under so much pressure to perform that your legs and feet mysteriously become stronger and more able to keep your body in one point in space. I don't want to sound like a crazy brain-washed fanatic (but then again, I am an Ashtanga Fundamentalist...), but I can't help feeling that there is some truth to Claudia's view. For instance, whenever I do Sharath's led primary CD, I always find myself using so much more lower leg power to stabilize my supporting leg in UHP. The result is that (a) my UHP is always so much more stable when I am doing led primary to Sharath's count, and (b) my calves always ache for the rest of the day. I guess (b) may not be such a good thing, because if my calves are aching, this may be a sign that I am not using enough bandhas/core strength to hold the pose together, and am instead using sheer leg power. Definitely something for me to work on here. But it seems that there is some truth to what Claudia is saying here. I mean, if simply hearing Sharath's voice is enough to cause my UHP to be more stable, imagine what it would be like if I am in his presence? :-)
Kino, on the other hand, believes that dancing is often caused by a simple anatomical reason: Lack of external hip rotation when one takes one's leg out to the side in UHP B. More precisely, it is caused by the greater trochanter's not dropping down enough when you bring your leg out to the side. Which leads to instability in the posture. Which leads to dancing. The solution, then, is to drop the greater trochanter of the leg that is going out to the side more. Easier said than done, but it sounds right.
Actually, Kino also has another angle on UHP. In one of her videos, she says that UHP is an exercise in hand-eye coordination. As such, it boosts brain capacity and increases brain function. Here's the video: