"A lot of us Ashtangis, we're all or nothing people, and we got to learn to show up with gentleness and with a lot of presence and without expectation. Cause we will burn out." - Angela Jamison
I went through ups and downs in my body that first 10 years, and I think not talking about it enabled me to process faster cause I didn't make a thing of it. I was already doing a lot of sitting practice so I can kind of see the way the concepts interacted with the tissues. And especially as my emotional body started to become conscious, I would see how much grief and pity and fear would come up around tweaks in the body. I could kind of start to decompose that and be with it, but also totally accept it and not try to change it. So I had to just be with whatever pain arose as I learn for second and third series in Los Angeles.
What I want to talk about is having injury as a teacher.
In 2011, I went home with an ability from the support of my teacher in Mysore, to let go of the academic world. No way without his support, would I had been able to do that.
Within 6 weeks, I had a major injury. I actually injured myself assisting because my consciousness was within my students' bodies. It is a total freshman mistake, right? I just got Authorized, I'm just getting into it. Very enthusiastic and also so devoted to their experience. I herniated S1L5 really really badly.
Luckily in Mysore you can walk off the street and get an MRI for $200, and so overtime I've been able to see the physical level manifestation of that injury, as scar tissue and also watched it break up and disappear, as the pain leaves the body. You know there are many layers of some scar when that happens: it's emotional, it's superconscious. It's spiritual, and also physical bit of calcified tissue laying up against the nerve in the lower back.
Over the course of pretty much 2 long trips to Mysore, I was in a lot of pain. As I recovered from that and with my students. At first I didn't want them to know what I was going through, but then I had to kind of relax that boundary and kind of like this practice can heal. My suffering is not only private. Up until then I've been really concerned about the ways that we telegraph injury into others. So somebody goes through something and has no boundaries about it. Just spews it all over, the empathetic people among us will pick that up. I have a lot of really empathetic students, so I want to be careful about not communicating harm, and not communicating suffering where it's just my stuff. But at the same time, for them to see me go through two years of some practices being just sitting, and then learning intelligently to create space within the body. It's like, okay. Well, you know practice is going to dial down now for the rest of my life. For a couple of years, that was my experience.
Clint: So what did you do?
I rolled out my mat and would sit and dandasana at first, because anything else would not have been ahimsa. Ahimsa is the first principle of this path. Then Satya. Getting real clear, there's not a lot of space to compromise on those fundamentals when anybody might be looking over their shoulders to see how Angela engaging with her practice. Really kept me honest. I actually am not one to visualize the practice. A lot of people have said that. They count themselves to the practice and they breathe to the practice, and uses his concentration piece. For me, I sit with the energy and I breathe. It'll be... maybe some breathing with sounds, but also just mula bandha for maybe, 90 minutes.
Yeah, and I do think that that's healing. I really do, and not for everyone. I mean, many of my students do not practice everyday and that is fine with me. Everybody has their own place in the trajectory of life that they come to the practice from. Students who stay on the path are those who have figured out how to be gentle. How not to do the all or nothing practice. A lot of us Ashtangis, we're all or nothing people, and we got to learn to show up with gentleness and with a lot of presence and without expectation. Cause we will burn out. You cannot sustain that kind of immature devotion for very long, cause the body will push back. That's wonderful kind of... to learn that, that's not a problem.
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