In my yoga practice, I’ve been focusing more on my drishti (gazing point) lately. Focusing on my focus, to be as redundant as possible. (I’m quite convinced this is the real reason Pattabhi Jois said yoga is 99% practice, 1% theory. Words become babble. Just do.)
Anyway, the drishti for many poses is nasagra – the tip of your nose. Blessed with a sizable sniffer, I can see the tip of my nose without straining my eyes, but I always see the right side. Ocular dominance at play. And that might not matter in the slightest, but the more aware I become of the ways my body is assymetrical, the more I doubt that my proprioception is telling me the truth about my body alignment. Our brains* fill in a scary amount of information for us without our knowledge, and my other sensory information isn’t quite matching up.
So while I was doing the closing sequence, I tried closing my right eye while maintaining my drishti on my nose. This was not an easy task, as I am not someone who can even wink casually. Closing one eye seems to require half of my facial muscles. I probably looked like I was in serious pain, or constipated – which is crazy because I was upside down in shoulder stand at that point. The laws of nature would contradict – anyway, you can probably see how focusing on my focus made me lose my focus. But I do think it is good to question our views. Looking at something from a different slant might help me let go of some patterns that aren’t useful anymore. To make it easier, I just need an eye patch. That’s it – Pirate Yoga. I was in matsyasana (fish pose) at that point, still looking through my left eye, and could clearly see myself in this awkward position, wearing an eye patch. And maybe some big hoop earrings. Pirate Yoga might be the only type of yoga yet to be invented. I should trademark it. Wink.
All the types of yoga can be majorly confusing. A friend asked me about what to look for in a class last night, and I did my best to steer her towards what might be helpful for her current needs. There isn’t a one size fits all solution – just as the idea of one size fits all clothing is a total myth. Even if a shirt might fit 50% of the population reasonably well, that still leaves another 50% who are either drowning in extra material or straining against the seams. And maybe only 10% of the former 50% actually like that shirt. The rest are just making do with something that’s not quite right. We’re all much happier with clothing that lets us move and breathe and just be who we are.
Being a teacher is an important part of who my husband is, so I’m really happy that he is teaching a new Zen Yoga class at our yoga shala next month. It blends his years of experience in Japanese zen meditation – which I find intimidating because it involves just sitting(!) – with yoga. A few people have asked me for the details so I’m posting them here. Please pass it along if you know of someone who’d benefit from an hour of zen once a week in beautiful Dana Point, in Diana’s beautiful shala. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit, but the ideal shirt also has to fit your personal style.
Learn to Focus Your Attention with Eric Berg
Thursdays in August, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Four week series: $60. Drop in class: $20.
Pacific Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Dana Point
www.pacificashtanga.com (949) 246-7315
Zen Yoga: a unique blend of Ashtanga Yoga and Buddhist meditation. Warm up with asana to prepare the body, prepare the mind with drishti (gaze) exercises, then sit 30 minutes meditating toward samadhi with Eric’s experienced guidance. Perfect for beginning yogis and meditators, and for experienced yogis interested in deepening the mindfulness of their practice. Eric, a research physicist, was introduced to various meditation practices in childhood. He received precepts in the Soto Zen lineage and was ordained as a Bodhicari (lay minister-teacher) in May 1995 in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Soon after, he took his first yoga class and immediately fell for Ashtanga. In 2011, he became a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200). A native Californian, he has been a practitioner at Pacific Ashtanga Yoga Shala since moving to Orange County.
*Read Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman and have your mind blown.