Currently, I’m reading the eye-opening book Ka Stories of The Minds & Gods of India by Roberto Calasso. It was recommended by my teachers Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor, whom I’m excitedly preparing to study with this summer in their Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Intensive in Boulder, Colorado.
My first impression of the book is that it’s like Monty Python doing the Mahabharata! I have only seen a bit of the brilliant Monty Python, and I have only read a little bit of the epic Mahabharata, but this was the impression (and I’ve been watching more Monty Python clips on youtube ever since reading this book – genius).
In terms of storytelling, Ka, so far, is surreal, sometimes hilarious, awkward, uncomfortable, blatant, mysterious, insightful, and totally giddy. The stories are full of resonance from a space beyond logical sequence and conclusion.
In this post, I have no intention of doing a complete book review (I’m only in the middle of the book) but simply of sharing how reading is resonating with practice, and how, in general, reading can infuse our lives with a nourishment and perspective that is palpable if we pay attention to the words, images, and ideas in our circulation.
Ka takes my mind out of conventional patterns and expectations. So refreshing! It feels like I’m tripping on magical mushrooms while reading, though caffeine is the only drug I’ve been on. The stories are like gifts of insight into how the mind can, in seeking to understand its own nuances, conjure beauty and terror, how it can flow into far-out expanses and far-in embellishments to seek to explain why it is flowing at all.
This dual awareness is something that we can perceive when watching our thoughts in meditation, too. Reading Ka is like a kaleidoscopic meditation that brings to mind the very movement of mind, a mind that is contemplating its furthest forms: divinity, absurdity, and the dance between them – humanity.
Sometimes I am asked for recommended reading. Despite the number of my books sitting on a shelf in my mother’s basement, I’d like to believe that libraries are living creatures, shedding skin and reinventing themselves over time. Here on my website library, I have compiled a list of a few books that I recommend reading as an ongoing reference and resource for Ashtanga yoga practice. Without claiming to have fully grasped these books at all, they are the books that I often refer to and quote from or recollect when posting clips from my practice on my insta-feed #yogawithsandi.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is often quoted as saying that Ashtanga Yoga is 1% theory & 99% practice. Perhaps this highlights the underlying question: