yesterday, i took a tour of primary series with ashtanga’s sweetheart, tim feldmann.
(though two and half hours in, and only as far as bhujapidasana, i have to believe those that have crowned him such have never taken this arduous trek … )
just kidding, of course.
in fact, his refinement of each of the fundamental postures only furthered to solidify my research from a few months prior, a time when i was experiencing some pretty significant low back pain. he validated and expanded on my initial findings which can be summed up succinctly using just two words:
*as in, mine was missing*
“you want to become a better person? discover peace? find shanti? squeeze your anus.” tim feldmann
i’m not sure i ever wrote specifically about those months. it wasn’t an injury, although i was in plenty of pain for months. i figured i had a few choices in moving forward: i could try to ignore the pain and power through or i could go back to a place where i had more comfort and try to work from there.
i chose the latter, not because i’m such a wise yogi – but because i have a pretty low threshold for pain.
anyway, that’s the beauty of having a mysore practice. i’m allowed, maybe even encouraged, to carry out my investigation on my mat. we call this research.
research … because technically what i was practicing wasn’t officially my assigned set of postures, in order, as given.
research … because i was conducting a methodical study of my body and gathering important data that would eventually help lead me to a way to reclaim my assigned set of postures, in order, as given.
and research … because our yoga practice, like science, is always evolving. we are actually expected to recognize unhealthy patterns and upgrade to new and/or more effectual ones. physically and otherwise.
now, we do NOT conduct research as a means of (a) avoiding challenges (laziness) nor (b) to justify a quick skip ahead (impatience) – and under the guidance of our teacher to help eliminate the potential (a) and (b) variables.
in my case, i simply practiced the primary series. not my old way – but in a new “tim-feldmann-sqeeze-my-anus-and-hollow-my-low-belly” kind of way. what i discovered, besides being super hard, was that my back pain went away when i did this. as it turns out, it alleviates it in postures outside of primary too. who knew? (besides, apparently tim feldmann.)
most commonly, research is done when pain appears, but certainly not always. sometimes it’s more, not less, that’s explored. like backbending preps that look a whole lot like second series – but added in primary when necessary. or blocks and props as a way to support openings that aren’t quite … well … open. we can modify the length and even vary the postures.
bottom line is this: this is not an all or nothing practice.
and sometimes it’s important research that lies in between.