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"Don't fight. Your neck is broken, and if you fight you'll be paralyzed." I had an instant physiological response to that, and became paralyzed. - Angela Jamison
What does the term strong practice mean to you?
Commitment to action.
Detachment from the results.
Discipline, dedication, devotion thing helps, too.
So strong practice is dispassionate actually on some level.
The Vinyasa of Teaching
The managing of my energy. There's a whole Vinyasa to the day to make the teaching sustainable. And so many Mysore teachers really burn out if they teach hard for a few years. I got a long view and I think about, I want to be an old Mysore teacher. And what are the disciplines that are necessary to not spend all my ojas now, but to actually continue to cultivate and have a lot to give for the long run.
I have what I called my council of mentors. So, there's the support from the teacher and there are people in my life, a small number, who are experts at administration. Or energy awareness, or economics. When I reach an edge in the management of the shala, I feel like I have a support system I can reach out to. I keep clear boundaries so I'm not asking a bunch of people for advice, and also like I'm not open to unsolicited advice.
Serving The Institution
The work with the shala is really clear that the shala is not me. It's not just a venue for me to go out and do Angela Jamison yoga. It's an institution separate from me and I actually serve that institution, and steward that institution. Then ultimately, it's nice to feel a little obsolete, which is just starting to happen. This year I felt like the shala becomes self intelligent a little bit. It's a wonderful community and it's my source of purpose in the world, but at the same time, I don't want to be totally needy that I get my identity and self worth from that cause at some point I'd have to lighten up about it. All the students need to learn to be alone, too. So, the institution, it's been clear all along that I'm supporting an institution and conducting experiments in institution building, not just doing my dharma as a teacher, which is maybe its own distinct line of action. It lets me be present here as a student and to let go of the teacher identity. Before I had the teacher identity, I had the scholar identity which helped me organized my energy but in the end become a bit of a shackle.
Don't Fight. Your Neck is Broken
I got into yoga in 2000 and it's always been really up here (points to the head), really reclusive also with my energy, very private person. Very much a creature of analysis and words and logic, that was my home base. Even though, I was actually kind of using that to suppress a lot of emotional intelligence that made me really uncomfortable. So I used my intellectual life to escape from Montana, and in any case I get to graduate school at UCLA. Right at the start of graduate school, in October, I'm crossing the street, in front of my apartment right outside of Santa Monica Boulevard, a young person in a red Honda Civic... I can see it coming at me, ran a stop sign, right in front of my house and fluttered in into me. The next thing I knew, there's an EMT strapping me to a board. I'm strapped down, he's putting an IV in my arm and I start to struggle and yell. The EMT says, "Don't fight. Your neck is broken, and if you fight you'll be paralyzed." I had an instant physiological response to that, and became paralyzed.
I have a really strong body memory of being in an MRI machine, totally paralyzed, and really happy to be alive. Like, I wasn't ready to go. The next morning, my husband held my hand. We're still under the light, I'm still immobilized, and I realized I can feel something in my fingertips. The whole psychosomatic process that I just went through, started to unravel. I realized I still have a body.
The surgeon whose going to operate on my jaw, because my jaw was basically fused shut, I was eating through a straw for quite sometime, said "At some point, you're going to have to take responsibility for your tension." And then he told me to do yoga. At this point, all my paradigms had been washed away and also... I have a body, I have a mind, I will nourish and care for what I've been given in this life. Very soon after that I settled in to a morning daily of Mysore practice. It was just so obvious.
To learn more about Authorized Level II Ashtanga Teacher Angela Jamison visit the Ashtanga Yoga Ann Arbor Michigan Website (one of the best websites I've seen). She also has a great blog you can check out called insideowl.com.