Repetition is DEATH

March 14, 2010

…says Tantra, and my yoga philosophy teacher, Emil. Well then! Semi-unintentionally, I had quite the life-extending few days. I suppose this entire trip, actually, has been good for longevity, but I had some amazing new experiences over the weekend.

Starting on Friday, we had our typical morning of pranayama, meditation and asana. But the afternoon brought the time for teaching– coming up with 20 minute sequences based on some theme. We’ve now done this a few times, and it’s been an invaluable part of the training– but also damn hard! Hard to come up with a proper sequence for such a small period of time, but also pretty emotionally draining (it takes about 3 hours: we split into 2 groups, practice, and then discuss how it went, giving and receiving, constructive criticism, eeek!).

Anyways, this time around we were to teach as if our students were all beginners, while taking into consideration knee, back and neck injuries.Everyone did really well and is totally improving. And it’s getting easier and more comfortable. But my turn came and, long story short, I had to deal will some discombobulated energies and certain distractions, which made it a bit more challenging to hold things together. Including Virgina’s gas, which was disrupted when I demonstrated ananda balasana (happy baby pose)- i.e. picture knees wide pulled into your chest; great exposure to the crotch area, and an even better one to teach with your butt facing the audience. Everyone lost it. And so did I, having taken all of these sequences VERY seriously. So, during my evaluation period first I burst out crying in front of everyone (hellloooo vulnerability!) and then we and ended with hysterical laughter. These things, they are all mini breakthroughs in their own way.

Then Fiona and I had to take advantage of our last chance to do a Kundalini yoga class at another yoga studio close by. This type of yoga s is rooted in Tantra, and is a strong practice that focuses on breathing, intended to WAKE UP one’s kundalini (coiled, snake-like) energy, which is said to be stored at the base of one’s spine. Yep, it was strong. Lot’s of intense breathing exercises, much of which we did while holding abdominal engaging postures. Needless to say I slept really well that night.

One Saturday, we had all morning with Emil. It was our first time doing asanas with him, and not surprisingly, he has a solid practice (that man can sit in padmasana for lord knows how long!). It was also nice to do asana before breathing and meditating, coupled with silence the whole time. It was quite conducive to a beautiful, still mediation.

Following, we had our glorious philosophy lecture, reviewing Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the main text of classical/Raja. The sutras are 196 concise verses which lays out the 8 limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga system (not to be confused with Hatha Yoga’s school of Ashtanga Vinyasa). The sutra’s only mention asana once, albeit significantly; it’s main focus is on attaining freedom, or Moksha, through inward-focused, meditative practices.

Now comes Tantra– you may have heard of it, that scandalous practice that’s totally sexified by the West. Sure it includes that piece, but it’s only a small part! Basically the Tantric Era came out of a reform movement by the common folk in the North/NE of India. Rather than viewing the physical body as an obstacle, the Tantrics viewed it as a vehicle for attaining Enlightenment (how exciting!). (Tantra also gave rise to honoring the feminine). It posits that the universe is held together by waves or vibrations (spanda); like a fabric that interconnects everything and everyone in the cosmos.

It’s very exciting stuff, this Tantra. In order to become free, we must EMBRACE our experience- tap into what’s really here, right now, on every level. This means psychologically (reminds me of Vipassana, or Mindfulness, mediation) and physically. The Tantrics experimented–how to tap into these vibrations, this universal energy?? What happens when we stand on our head for 1 minute..15 minutes..3 days..sound familiar? Yep, apparently Tantra is system that gave right to what looks like the asanas we practice in Hatha Yoga today (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras only mention the need to develop a steady, comfortable seat). Suddenly, the body is a tool for finding inner freedom, and we should use it to evolve.

Later that day, I went for a massage. This is no regular massage, now. It was a life expanding massage that lasted about 3 hours. Best part– it was freeeeeeeeeeeee!! I had received one a week ago (the masseuse is a friend of my yogamate), and apparently the resulting energies from my previous massage (2.5 hours) had a positive effect on him all week. He used quite a bit of Reiki, and after both sessions, i felt this amazing energy like I nothing have ever felt before. The first time it was like these energetic sensations coursing throughout my body– I felt an extreme sense of lightness, like floating up, and then it came back down, grounding. If I concentrated, I could direct it to certain areas– up an down my arms, pulsing in my palms and feel, beating into my heart. The second time, it was more concentrated in my belly and at the base of my spine (Kundalini rising??). That night I didn’t eat dinner ‘cuz I wasn’t hungry (and for me skipping dinner is some serious non-repetition)!!

Today, it was beautiful. After another wonderfully deep sleep, I chilled and ate brunch with my new friends on our sacred day off, all of whom I will miss dearly after this last week (though I will have come continued adventures with a couple of them ’til the end of the month). Facing the heat of the day, somehow asana and meditation called. It turned into a spontaneous 2 hour, Prana Flow inspired self practice that was wonderfully juicy and so in the moment.

Then Virginia came in with her iPod. The dancing began, and the non-repetition continued. We danced and we danced and we danced throughout the yoga shala. Leaping and shaking and cartwheeling, just moving. It was glorious. We even got some people to shake their bootys, pool side. It brought us back to the beginning of the training, when Sue led us in a Yoga Damce, which was all about SHAKING it out (actually there are gurus that lead people in the vibration practices– you can take a type of tobacco that induces intense vibrations throughout the body, apparently extremely healing. Don’t worry Mom, I won’t try that. I don’t think. Just kidding I really won’t 🙂 Anyways shook and shook and danced so freely–Now that’s a movement meditation. These practices, they should happen often and then, I think, we will all live more inspired, full, connected lives.

Now I must go practice my repetitive pattern of applying (homemade!) bug repellent before I am eaten alive by mosquitoes. And eat dinner. I guess somethings must stay the same, relatively speaking!

One Response to “Repetition is DEATH”

  1. Cami Says:


    Thanks again for sharing your experiences. Teaching anything is challenging. It takes you out of your comfort zone at first- that is for sure! It sounds like all your experiences there will leave you very prepared!


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