Here at Miss Stan dot com, I like to keep it light. My forays into darkness (exhibit A – hey don’t judge I just gave birth!) are met with a bit of reader brow-furrowing. And really they should be. I didn’t want this blog to be about how crappy or hard my practice is. I wanted it to be about how the practice has helped me lead a positive, healthy life. I am a lucky girl. I do think that you make a small piece of your own luck and this blog is all about the small part of my luck that I work for every morning.
I was reading Kapo is My Bitch last night and it prompted a discussion between David and I this morning about tradition. There are some old school teachers who teach the Ashtanga technique how it was taught to them in the 70s and 80s. When we use that word, “tradition”, that is exactly what comes to mind. A practice that was originally taught and handed down from generation to generation. I guess like most traditions, Ashtanga has changed, many times, even within this generation. And while it might make sense initially to follow whatever was taught 30 years ago and carry on that tradition, it was the Guru himself who modified it.
I can see if you learned a technique at a pivotal moment in your life, and that technique changed everything for you – it would make sense to want to replicate that experience in teaching others. I would argue that it isn’t the sequence of poses, although very elegantly and intelligently stacked, that changes us in Ashtanga Yoga – but accepting and trusting a teacher.
David says you wouldn’t go see a doctor who only used medical information she learned thirty years ago because it was empirical knowledge then and therefore must be empirical knowledge now. I think tradition is a clumsy word in this case, maybe technique or method is better suited because the whole thing is so mutable. I’m pretty sure that is how Sharath describes it. I’m not sure if I have ever heard him say it is “Traditional Ashtanga”. And yet we seem to use that word all the time to describe what we do.
Coincidentally, there was an article about Sofia Coppola’s new film in the paper today. She used camera lenses from her father’s film Rumblefish to shoot her movie. She talked about loving the warmth and soft quality of film. But she also mentioned that her father is really into HD, and won’t shoot on film anymore – although he does think it is cute that his daughter is so fond of it.
I have listened to different yoga teachers speak about yoga like it is an art form. And from that point of view, I think I understand. You have a story to tell or an idea to express and using a traditional process can add meaning and texture. A friend of mine shot the cover of her book on a pinhole camera. It is gorgeous, but the murky-sepia tone of the photo also adds a layer of meaning to the narrative. Maybe more so then the same shot taken with a digital camera.
I guess I can’t get my head around the whole yoga as art thing. I just don’t see it as a dance or creative expression. I don’t really understand when people describe a vinyasa sequence as artful either. I mean, you would only put a series of poses together because they complement each other in your body, not because it looks cool in front of the mirror or whatever. It is interesting to me how different bodies “express” a pose, but that seems more like anatomical geometry.
But maybe I am missing something. I know this isn’t Sister Wives, but if you have an opinion – please share it!
Next post: Don’t EVER let your kid get a cold. Unless you hate sleeping.