Today’s Baptiste Yoga Every Damn Day pose is: Prayer Twist or Parivrtta Utkatasana.
Start in Chair pose. Bring your hands together at the chest, and twist from the waist. The waist twisting motion is similar to Twisting Crescent. Hands are pressed together equally. Hips should be equal or lower than the shoulders. Also, be sure to look down at the knees, and make sure they are even. Pressing the thighs in together and pushing the hips back will correct this also.
The studio where I teach recently had a 10 day meditation challenge. I honestly was a tad nervous about it because my meditation practice has pretty much disappeared. I keep a pretty regular asana practice which I find easy to maintain, but since my teacher training, I haven’t really tried to seriously meditate on my own. It isn’t due to a lack of knowledge. To be honest, it’s just hard.
Well, that’s not entirely true. The concept of meditation is simple: sit in silence. When thoughts arise, focus on the breath instead of following any one train of thought. Then, a song will pop into your head, and you try very hard to listen to physical sounds of the breath instead of that song. The song will remain. You might start getting agitated at yourself, your brain, that damn song, and they all persist. The problem isn’t the song, or the thoughts, or even the feelings about those thoughts. It’s the attachment to some belief that the world is in our control; that we should be able to get that song out of our head; that this shouldn’t be that hard. But it is hard. It is hard to keep coming back to something when you don’t feel you perform at it well, and the fact that you feel that you aren’t doing it right is precisely why you should keep doing it. Meditation is a practice in confronting the darkest parts of oneself, and by dark I don’t mean “bad.” The dark parts are the parts we do not see. They are unknown to us. Meditation shows you that you may not be as patient as you thought, or as calm as you hoped. It’s a practice in confronting the whole self, every single day.
I read a story that Pema Chodron told about her teacher, Chogyam Trungpa. He asked her how her meditation practice was going, and she replied that it was getting difficult. He told her that life was like a wave of the ocean that knocks you down. You are face down in the sand. Water is in your nose. Sand is in your mouth. As soon as you start to get up, another wave comes along and knocks you back down. She fully expected him to tell her that it eventually would get better, but he didn’t. So, she asked him, “Is that all there is?” and he said, “Well, maybe after a little while, the waves just seem smaller.”
This morning I completed my daily yoga practice, and at the end I meditated. My mind raced. There was a song in my head the entire time that is actually still there. I never achieved mental stillness throughout the whole time, but I don’t think the point of my practice is to get mentally still. The point is to not have stillness and be with that. Feel unpleasantness and be okay. I am to feel the crash of the waves until they just seem smaller.