ka, reading, practice, awakening: ashtanga updates from #yogawithsandi

Ka Book Cover.jpg

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:

our thought bodies & our physical bodies, how do they bind and/or free each other?

View this post on Instagram

Practice evolves with a daily commitment. Every day is different. Some days are smooth. Some days are rough. Some days are both. Some days are rest days (7th day of the week, plus moon days and menstrual days) and those days are important too. Binding in the Marichyasanas took a long time for me. I used to think I would never get past these poses, and that there was something uniquely “wrong” with me, preventing me from doing them. “Why does it look so much easier for others?” With practice, we discover that our obstacles are not so unique, and that they are not so solid, either. Everyone goes through something. It’s a blessing in disguise to find our something, because this is where we discover the meaning of practice. Without obstacles, we would have no need to practice! Without practice, we would believe too much that our obstacles are real! In this way, practice and obstacles are like Yin & Yang – interconnected, one exists inside the other. One obstacle disappears and another arises. How we relate with practice determines the power of the obstacle. ☯️ . . . . . . . #yogawithsandi #twist #bind #marichyasanac #mysore #ashtanga #vinyasa #yoga #sadhana #yogachikitsa #healthandwellness #healing #transforming #yogastudent #yogateacher #yogadaily #plantpowered #vegan #veganflexy #veganstrong #health #wellness #meditation #movingmeditation #yinandyang #playfulyogispace #yogarocklandcounty #yogabergencounty

A post shared by Sandi H. (@sandi_higgins) on

View this post on Instagram

“If the Buddha is he who leads toward awakening, his Vedic precursor was the young woman who comes forward, ‘like a girl without a brother who walks toward the men,’ visible from afar: Ushas, sovereign of awakening. Before it became a noun, Bodhi, ‘the awakening,’ which was Buddha’s revelation – and which the fainthearted translate as ‘illumination’– was actually an imperative – ‘Awaken!’ – issued from the lips of Ushas. But there was a duplicity about Ushas that enchanted men and distressed them. The Buddha wanted to put an end to it. And this, not the awakening, was the novelty of his doctrine.” ~ Roberto Calasso, Ka 🌅 2nd Photo: depiction of Ushas from mygodpictures.com ✨ . . . . #Ushas #SovereignOfAwakening #RgVeda #Vedic #Goddess #GoddessOfDawn #Awakening #Bodhi #Buddha #Buddhism #Hinduism #YogaStories #Mysore #Ashtanga #Vinyasa #Yoga #Backbends #Kapotasana #Sadhana #Plantpowered #YogaWithSandi #RobertoCalasso #Ka #MindAndGodsOfIndia

A post shared by Sandi H. (@sandi_higgins) on

View this post on Instagram

Asanas can be an inner movemental pharmacy – offering preventative (as well as curative) medicine for the mindbody’s many possible imbalances and ailments. Here is this morning’s Garbha Pindasana (embryo in the womb pose) into Kukkutasnaa (rooster pose) 🐣🐓 from the Ashtanga Primary Series. 🌷🌸🌷🌸🌷 “Garbha Pindasana dissolves the fat of the lower abdomen, purifies the manipura, or third, chakra, and wards off diseases of the liver and spleen. … By means of Kukkutasana, the intestines are purified, the fat of the lower abdomen dissolved, and diseases affecting the bowels and urinary tract, as well as excess phlegm, are cured.” ~ Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Yoga Mala 💐🐘📿 . . . #yogawithsandi #mysore #ashtanga #vinyasa #yoga #ashtangayoga #primaryseries #yogachikitsa #yogamala #srikpattabhijois #krishnamacharya #patanjali #8limbs #asana #movementalmedicine #healing #shamanism #balance #sunrise #garbhapindasana #kukkutasana #plantpowered #vegan #veganflexy #veganstrong #yogadaily #sustainability #longevity #liberation #healthandwellness

A post shared by Sandi H. (@sandi_higgins) on

View this post on Instagram

So close yet so far 🌸💕 #springing

A post shared by Sandi H. (@sandi_higgins) on

View this post on Instagram

Who’s got your back? … Your legs! Backbends have a lot to do with awakening the engagement with our thighs – particularly the front and inner thighs, quads and adductors. This progressive series of 3 backbends from the Ashtanga Intermediate Series (ustrasana -> laghu vajrasana -> kapotasana) brings attention to this as we anchor into the earth through our shin bones and extend back in increasing degrees, asking our thighs for strength, flexibility, steadiness, support. We can hold a lot of emotion in our thighs, so backbends can take us into what false beliefs about ourselves we may be holding in this area of the body – inviting us ultimately to let that sh*t go so that we can hold the space for our true self and our trust of this self, our “ground of basic goodness” as Chogyam Trungpa called it, to emerge. 🙏🖤☮️ #yogawithsandi #backbends #emotionalholding #bodywisdom #yogaofthesubtlebody #mysore #ashtanga #vinyasa #yoga #healing

A post shared by Sandi H. (@sandi_higgins) on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s