Asanacation One Year Anniversary

url-11I realized a few days ago that it has basically been a year since my asana practice fell apart. I’ve maintained a practice of yoga in terms of learning, pranayama, and meditation, but asana has been rare. I don’t know exactly how I do/should feel about it, and I’m not sure where I’m going from here.

There are many reasons for the change, but mostly it comes back to health. A surgical procedure in October of 2013 went wrong, causing problems that built up over late 2013 into the first months of 2014. By April, I was miserable. Getting through a day of work was a challenge, and asana was right out. At the end of May, I had a more invasive surgery to correct the prior one. But, then that, and some serious complications during healing, necessitated a continued break from yoga until September 2013. I thought that, by September, I would be back on track. It just didn’t work out that way, as rheumatoid arthritis had other opinions. Work schedule contributed by making the new times at my home studio impossible for me most days, and my home practice commitment just wasn’t strong enough to make up the difference when demands of household and work call. And time passed, and here we are in April.

There are weeks that I manage two classes. Once in a while, it might be three. But, my asana isn’t what it was. Muscles and tendons are tight and constrained. I’m physically weaker. My core is tired and balance is off. Meh. Yet, the RA isn’t significantly worse than it was 18 months ago and I had a more regular practice then. On the other hand, then I wasn’t on particular medication that slows my heart rate to 58, making every moment seem like a good moment for a nap. HA! So, what and where from here?

I want to get back to a more regular asana practice. I know the tricks like putting it on my schedule (though that does no good if I can’t get home from work until 6:30 or later and class starts at 6:15) and using videos and podcasts for home encouragement. But, I knew those last month and the month before, so something has to make the difference. I’m aware that clinging to the idea of an asana practice in a way that makes me feel bad, guilty, ashamed isn’t a good idea. But, I like how I feel when I practice more and (in a non-yogic truth) my clothes also fit better.

This is going to be one of “those” posts, where I end with a question for which I have no answers. It makes me a very not helpful vegan yoga blogger, but it’s where I am right now. So, WWYYD? (what would you yogis do?)


One Tribe Harem Pants

Disclaimer – I received these pants from One Tribe Apparel in exchange for providing a review on The VeganAsana

A bit ago, I was contacted by One Tribe Apparel regarding their yoga harem pants. Since I had looked at the pants before, I pretty enthusiastically agreed to do a review! If the style is in your wheelhouse, these pants are pretty cool.

The pair that I received was the Peacock pattern in the Cabernet Red color. I hope you will excuse my lack of a full body image of the pants for you. That’s just not going to happen. But, if you follow the link above, there are many such images on lovely people.

Appearance – First, I will say that these are gorgeous pants. The fabric is really beautiful and vibrant. I love the burgundy color base and the peacock pattern. They have a gathered bottom and gathered waist band that is about 8 inches in height. The hips and legs are wider, but not Hammer-style pants wide.

Fit and fabric – The fabric is soft and relatively thin. On a winter day, I was glad I had on leggings underneath, even inside. While the pants are theoretically one size fits all, I have a hard time believing that this is the case. I think it’s probably more like one size fits many/most.

Utility – Because the material does not have any stretch, there are some limitations to a physical practice. However, the ease of the fit makes these pants workable for most poses or flows.

The retail price of these pants is $39.00. Right now, they are out of stock in the Cabernet Red of the Peacock print, but there are other nice colors and prints.

They are available at Readers of TheVeganAsana can get 15% off of purchases through this link.

Thinking About Gurus with Hari-Kirtana

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 5.44.22 PMSo, I’ve been fairly quiet this month. It’s been busy. Every time that I sit down to write a post or share a recipe, something else crops up. Sorry about that!

But, I have been writing and thinking, in part as a response to taking some advanced yoga training at Yogawood with Hari-kirtana das. As part of our homework from last month, we responded to his post In Defense of Gurus. What follows is my response (primarily to part one).

Philosopher and communication scholar Kenneth Burke once defined man as “the symbol-using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal, inventor of the negative (or moralized by the negative), separated from his natural condition by instruments of his own making, goaded by the spirit of hierarchy (or moved by the sense of order), and rotten with perfection.”  I’ve always found this an apt description.

As humans, we can envision, in a way that (we assume) other animals can’t, what it would be like to be a perfect ______. We can also understand the concept of the negative (a dog does not think, “I am not a cat”). These two things together, along with a tendency to create hierarchy, drive us to want to be more, to achieve some pinnacle of success. What that success looks like is driven by the culture(s) that we inhabit, but it is generally linked with power.

The idea of a guru is a neutral idea; that is, it is not inherently bad or inherently good. We need teachers, regardless of what arena of life we are speaking of. Sometimes we call them mentors; sometimes we call them parents; sometimes we call them gurus. These individuals have more knowledge about something(s) than we do, which grants them a form of power. And power is not bad. All relationships have power differentials and all individuals in relationships have forms of power that they can draw on, whether it is informational power or formalized power or reward power, etc.

Today, sometimes the relationship between teacher and student is one driven by commerce. For example, school teachers must be paid in order to live to teach another day. But, we know that there are teachers (whether that is their formal title or not) who teach not primarily from the reason of making a living, but from a different driver – the wellbeing, growth, enlightenment, and progress of the student.

A guru, including but not limited to a yoga guru, who is acting from the motivation of contributing positively to the progress of the disciple can be a positive force in the individual’s life. I think this can be true even if that guru is not him/herself fully “enlightened,” but is still working on it (I get a little antsy about claims of enlightenment).

However, because we are so intelligent and complex, we also have the ability to misuse power.  Gurus who take that title (formally or relationally) for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, material gain, social/sexual power, etc. are not operating from a motivation of helping the disciple in his/her growth. And that is where things go wrong.

We – society – spend a lot of time worrying about whether XYZ has the potential to be used negatively (for example, if we inoculate teens against STDs, they will have more sex). The truth is, everything can be used in ways that promote the welfare of others or not. Even a toaster can become a murder weapon. We can’t just dismiss all the things/concepts that can be used negatively (because I like toast). We have to, instead, be aware of the positive and negative potentials.

Like for any other successful relationship, the relationship with a guru should be entered with an assumption of positive motives on the part of the other, with commitment to giving the relationship the attention and devotion it requires, and with an open-mind, yet with eyes open. Even then, it may not work out, but then again it may.