Monday, January 10, 2011

Off the Deep End, Gladly


It’s easy to be a dedicated student of what you already think.
Ancient and Revered Yoga Cynic Sutra 201:312

...long-suffering non-yogi friends think I’m going off the deep end...then, that’s kinda my intention...

...a yoga teacher friend was encouraging people to choose a word to represent their intentions for the new year...the kinda thing I tend to dismiss as new agey but end up finding useful...looked at my t-shirt, which read Springboard Studio...thought springboard...

...in preparation for the big intense yoga teacher training...6:30 in the morning to 9:00 at night six days a week, deep in the mountains in the dead of winter...kinda like nurturing, compassionate boot camp...been reading about fascia and synovial fluid (first time I’ve studied anatomy since 10th grade biology class)...(where I mostly sat there writing out Bowie lyrics on my notebooks, thinking about comic books and sex) and alignment...finding it kind of intimidating, though frequently coming to surprising realizations that I already know the stuff that seems most daunting and complicated...experientially...through the asana practice...just not the words for or theory behind...which seems a bit ironic...

Follow any analytic discipline, rigorously pursue any science or philosophy to its inexorable end, and you arrive at absurdity. From there, two paths diverge: toward despair of the overwrought intellectual, or toward the laughter of the gods.
Josh Mitteldorf

...first started practicing yoga as a grad. student, half way through a dissertation...more precisely, at the beginning of a lengthy break from said dissertation due to depression so severe I was just about picking a cliff to jump off....then, once the dissertation got going again, the yoga kinda faded away....never really got it going seriously 'til I left the land of theory and ironic quotation marks, entirely....not that there's a connection, necessarily...

...another teacher pointed out I tend to lead with the head...that’s Jay, PhD, she said...

Just how anti-intellectual can a guy with a PhD get before he starts sounding ridiculous?
Ancient and Revered Cynical Zen Koan

Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?
Ralph Waldo Emerson

...yoga is, to me...or, at least, for me...essentially experiential...making big debates about whether it’s a religion or whatever somewhat moot...does it feel like a religion?...if it does, it is...if not, it must be something else...

...we’ve found that yoga comes to vibrant life when we realize that while we have no stable idea as to what it is, we know that we embody its evolving pulse through our baffled wonder.
yoga 2.0

...then, maybe it's all how you define religion...some would say it’s all experiential, originally...somebody coming down from a mountain and saying whoa, some weird shit went down up there...lemme tell ya about it...beliefs, holy books, rituals, dogma, etc. all coming later...means to codify the uncodifiable, get a handle on what can’t be handled, put infinity in its place...making it clear that somebody else, in some spiritually privileged long ago time and far away place, slipped the yoke....you gotta shut up and do as you're told...

Editor’s note: it occurs to the staff here at Yoga for Cynics that this post about moving away from the intellectual and toward the experiential is getting highfalutin' in a manner that's, arguably, contradictory to its theme. We apologize for the apparent error and assure readers that it probably won’t happen again...at least not in this post....anyway, isn’t it all, really, about finding a balance?...

16 comments:

earthtoholly said...

Ha! That's a very clever sutra, drjay. I like that.

I think my word would have to be do...or chill. I need two words. I really need to do both.

And I'm looking forward to reading more about your yoga training and teaching. Sounds like such an exciting endeavor. Very inspiring!

Anahita said...

Loved this post! I'm so excited for you! Also, I'm going to out myself and share my "other" internet identity as I wrote a blog entry over at my "science blog" that kind of touches upon this topic... and plus, I would love/appreciate your feedback!

http://geneticexpressions.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/rationalism-the-unfaithful-servant/

Lydia said...

I think everything in your life is going to zing out into the stratosphere and find its way back to your mat where, ultimately, you will become a real blessing to yourself and others.

the walking man said...

One question.

Until you experience something how do you confirm that your knowledge of that thing is correct?

Forgive my ignorance but I have had to experience all I know. Which is why I have no religion other than no religion.

TheRiverWanders said...

I find Sutra 201:312 very true. Sometimes the dedication *might* just crossover to self-delusion (talking about a friend, not me).

Robyn said...

I am very happy to have found your blog!

Regarding experiential vs. academic aspects of yoga...I think when one is teaching, it is important to have some grounding in the anatomy, alignment details, etc., because it helps when you are standing in front of (or beside or behind) someone who has a totally different body, history, life. Which is everyone, really. It is a place to begin to work from, and then you can add what you know through experience.

Or, at least, that has been my experience.

LauraX said...

"...we’ve found that yoga comes to vibrant life when we realize that while we have no stable idea as to what it is, we know that we embody its evolving pulse through our baffled wonder." IMHE this is the same as direct experience of Divinity...dogma optional. Moving out of our heads and into our hearts...toward felt (physical/emotional/spiritual) reality in the moment. Not that there is anything wrong with thinking, spending some time in our heads...we need to do that too...but like you said most honorable, soon to be legit yoga guru..."isn’t it all, really, about finding a balance?..."

Carol Horton said...

As a fellow Ph.D. yoga practitioner who's also done a very intensive teaching training, I can relate.

For us mind-centric people, the physicality of yoga comes as a blessing and a revelation - or at least for me it did.

And I agree about facing the void at the end of sustained inquiry and the choices you face then - I realized that back in grad school even before I started yoga. But didn't have anywhere to really go with it then . . .

But ultimately yoga is about integration - therefore bringing the Ph.D. mind with the yoga teacher bodily experience is, I think, a blessing too - that may be your path as well as mine - at any rate, nothing to apologize for, even in jest - on the contrary.

Brooks Hall said...

Hi Jay! …sounds like a great way to experience yourself differently. Blessings.

Brittany said...

Enjoy going off the deep end :)

Kavindra said...

yes, I just like you - that's all I got, just that I like you - how's that for non-intellectual?

Brenda P. said...

Cool. I dig this new vein.

...Fortune cookie sez: One who leads with head, should consider helmet. Especially when springboarding.

Rhiannon said...

Hi...you do seem to "think" in many analytical ways...using your head a lot...especially in your yoga. However, as the Buddha quote says "it is what it is" nothing more nothing less.

Surely I can see a balance to connect the head to the heart and of course the mind body connection in Yoga. At least you know where you are at "now" and therein begins "a new beginning". One step at a time...it's not really a Science but a conscience of soul..maybe? Someone said that to me once about Yoga long ago.

I know what you mean about winters and depression or having SAD from less sunlight etc..hope your doing okay with that..more vitamin D maybe? It's helped me a lot. Just a suggestion.

It is what it is...no worries...not too complicated...:o)

It's been a while, good to see you still in the blog world.

Blessings,

Rhiannon

Meredith LeBlanc said...

Springboard: yes! Yoga is definitely a springboard to discovery and mind opening. Without it I don't know that I would be as willing to consider thoughts and experiences so far out of my realm.

nothingprofound said...

I listened to my body, to my joy, and this is what I heard: "Life is worth living but not worth thinking about."

WR said...

ok so you're studying body stuff before learning to teach yoga...right? Didja figure out what the the hamstring is? Would that count as enlightenment of a different kind?