Saturday, April 11, 2009

Camels & Humps

...I actually managed to do camel pose—ustrasana for you yoga nerds out there—a kneeling backbend where you touch your heels with your fingers for everybody else...I don’t know why it’s called camel pose....some asanas make perfect sense, like downward facing dog...which the average dog does at least once every morning...except that dogs actually tend to look up rather than down while doing it...which could be an issue if your yoga teacher happens to be a dog...otherwise, it’s all good...

you can be active with the activists, or sleep in with the sleepers
when you’re waiting for the great leap forward...
Billy Bragg

...anyway was particularly surprising since I’d never even come close before...at best ended up in some lopsided Quasimodo-like contortion, one shoulder way down there, one way up there...saw actually getting both way down there as one of those things where, if I keep up this yoga thing diligently for like the next ten years...maybe...and, at the very least, expected it’d be a millimeter-by-millimeter type thing...and yet, here was this great leap forward...or downward...or something...like something just suddenly decided to let go...funny how that happens...

Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.
G. K. Chesterton

...often I think about what I’d change if I could take an excursion backwards, into the past...as documented a couple posts ago...the trouble with that being that there might not be any more myself to come back to...or a myself different enough to make the entire point moot...maybe a myself I wouldn’t like so much...smug...shallow...complacent...a casual bully....might I feel less need to stand up for the underdog if I’d never been one? Or have an overweening sense of entitlement that’d cause me to look on those less fortunate with indifference or contempt? Would more successful relationships make me afraid of being alone?

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Matthew 19:24

...what I’m wondering is: have you ever actually seen a camel try to go through the eye of a needle? There could be some trick to it that only camels know...

13 comments:

DESPERADO said...

well, heisenberg's uncertainty principle in action here.
The mere act of observing changes the outcome of an event.
For me this law finds a better place in philosophy than in science.

been practicing yoga for almost 4 yrs now.(of course not with complete dedication) Still not able to perfect parivruttatrikonasana.

Wildwoods Retreat said...

Your quoting Chesterson stirred a very old memory. Many decades ago I had a pen pal relationship with a Father Coleman. Vincent Coleman was an Irish ordained priest who taught and studied at Catholic University - a theologian. He was very bright and very funny. Not a good driver though as he died an early death returning home after a skiing trip. We, in our writings, discussed religion and philosophy. Coleman often quoted Chesterson. As my mind's eye gazes back to the past decades I am reminded - of choices, intense discussions and life changing decision that have been made. I was 17 then and am now a woman in my 60s. Chesterson converted to Catholisism and I left that religion for Judaism. Some cosmic balance - who knows?

The paths we take are well worn. Returning to the past will not likely change us when we decide to rejoin the present. But it would mean, I think, having to repeat much hard work.Better to glance over ones shoulder now and then and honor the past by remembering. So the camel can keep the hump and remain a camel.

Aggie said...

Lol! Actually, you are not too far wrong regarding the Biblical quotation. The "Eye of the Needle" refers to a place that was an entrance to a Fortress which was extemely narrow and low and it took some manoevering to get a camel through. An overladen Camel would not get through and all the goods it carried would have to be removed, then the Camel wriggled and strained through the gate, & the goods put back on it. Took and age and held everyone up in a long queue. Rather like some motorway bottlenecks of today.
(I picked that up in a Doco/History lesson on Biblical places/references.)

svasti said...

That's awseome for you and your practice! Camel pose, eh? Its quite an intriguing asana once you can comfortably do it.

I think yoga practice is a little bit like life in that respect - each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. Some can't do ushtrasana, others can't do chattauranga...

But the idea is you keep working gently and regularly at the same things. There's no way of forcing yourself into being able to do something. And you're meant to focus more on the asana that you like the least.

Even when it doesn't look like you're making much progress, the fact that you continue to practice them, is in itself, progress.

Then - bam!! - 'suddenly' you can do something you never could before.

But its not as magical as it looks. Its steady and regular progress.

Ushtrasana BTW, is a chest and heart chakra opener.

So perhaps the life that's led you to the point where you can finally make like a camel is one that's bringing you closer to who you really are? All the time, with steady and slow progress, but progress all the same?

Brooks Hall said...

Yea, the things that in certain mind states that we might fantasy that life would be better without--it's probably illusion. A stream needs the rocks in it so it can swirl and sing.

Amanda said...

Ustrasana is a pose especially for your visit to Central Australia... you and Svasti can visit at the same time. We can all go down to the Todd River (look it up on Google images - note that 'river' is a poetic licence) and...

... do Ustrasana at sunset and see if any tourists in dumbass Crocodile Dundee hats take photos of us yoga nerds!

Eleanor said...

Hon, when I teach camel, I ask my students to focus on the front of the spine, i.e. lengthen from the pubic bone to the base of the throat. Often this is where/when they have the realisation of the heart opening, the anterior of the spine opening and the amazing exhilaration of attaining the asana. It is beautiful to see.

Shane at Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty,LLC said...

Congrats on your progress! I am currently stuck in so many ways.

Kikolani said...

I have just started getting back into yoga again... I slacked off, but my hubby started doing tennis yoga, and got me into it. I still can't do the camel pose, but I keep trying. My flexibility takes a bit to warm up I guess.

~ Kristi

Lydia said...

No, but I saw camels race in Virginia City, Nevada, lots of summers when I was a kid. I've been bad with my yoga practice but who knows maybe someday I'll be able to do Camel Pose.

Eco Yogini said...

Yay Camel Pose!!!
I have been practicing for four years... it took TWO full years to be able to even touch my toes in forward bend, and feel comfortable enough to close my eyes during savasana (i am SUPER type A lol).
Andrew does Camel like a pro though, whereas I always feel scared and anxious.
I have also accepted that yoga for me is what my body needs from the pose, not the textbook asana... but I still dream... lol.

Eleanor said...

Swami Venkatasananda says, "Whatever you can do today is perfect for you today!"
Think about it ... you can only do what you do.

Hari OM

ted said...

Aggie mentioned the camels and the needle-eye shaped gates, but how does a camel pass through? By bowing, an act of humility that a rich man can't quite get, he being more adept at doing the slight backbend required to get into that rear hip pocket in order to extract his wallet and pay off Saint Peter, the toughest bouncer around...