Wednesday, November 16, 2011

¡Bienvenido a Panamá!

I awoke this morning to the sounds of tropical birdsong, barking dogs, diesel trucks and was presented with a cup of coffee and a kiss on the cheek. I am in Panama City visiting my sweetie, who has a two-year job here. I will spend the next two weeks working from the city apartment and the Smithsonian, with a (most likely) futile plant collecting trip thrown in; a delightful change of scenery and pace from the past several weeks back home. 

All of Monday was spent traveling, and I am too shy to practice in the airport (I give kudos to those of you who do!), so yesterday was my first practice here- the start of my attempt to stick with a routine. I expected the heat and humidity to provide for a more open practice, but alas, that wasn't the case. We all know what expectations do. I suspect the stiffness was the result of all of the sitting during the flights. The right hip gets achy if I stay like that for too long, and I was boxed in by heavy sleepers on the plane, preventing movement. 

A recent blog post from David Garrigues touched upon struggle and what it teaches us:
being stuck in a posture allows us to see more than those in which we move through quickly and provides an opportunity to explore the subtleties of the practice that we otherwise would miss. A response from yogicaroline on Globie's blog also had a similar flavor:
"asana is supposed to teach us something ... there is no point doing asana to get better at asana. what are you learning from the process of working on [insert posture]?"
My teacher wished me a happy Ashtanga anniversary awhile back, which marks two years of consistent Mysore practice. There have been many struggles, a couple of breakthrough moments, and fluctuating emotions attached to them. Range of motion in the hips preventing leg-behind-head, lack of bendiness hindering drop backs, torso and limb proportions affecting jump backs... what have I learned? After two years, my practice is still in its infancy, but how I approach it has changed considerably. Certain physical "limitations" have meant that I am unable to progress in the series. The major challenge over the past year has been to make peace with be okay with the waiting. This requires a shift in approach from external to internal, and a great deal of patience, humility, forgiveness, and humor. I am not at this place of total acceptance yet (as evidenced by previous blog posts), but the practice is moving me more in this direction. I am also becoming increasingly aware of the feedback loop between what happens on the mat, how it colors my mood and reactions to other aspects of my life, and visa versa. Thought patterns, preferences, and such. In the end, I am grateful for these opportunities.

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