22 August 2014

Yoga practice

I have been doing Yoga. Not studying Yoga, but going to classes to do Yoga. Actually, I don’t really know what I’m doing though there is a great deal of talk (when I can hear itI have certainly been in attendance at too many rock concerts) about breathing (which I have always done fairly well!), and focusing and centering. Of course, during most the poses I am quite off center, unfocused, and sometimes struggling for breath. I will continue in the practice nonetheless. It is interesting, though, that when the hour session concludes I feel a bit otherworldly, a bit . . . somewhere else—and when I leave the studio I have to be somewhat cautious as I cross the street and head toward my car; and when I am finally driving home (she said during practice I was home!!) I keep the speed carefully slow and am exceptionally concerned that I’m not seeing something I should be seeing.
            One thing (among several things) that I am learning during practice concerns the insecurities I experience about doing the pose correctly. The teacher suggests that we practice with our eyes closed, but when I can’t see what others are doing I don’t know what I am doing! And tonight I thought that my obsession with doing things right can prevent me too often from doing things at all! Certainly this has been true in my scholarly practice: I am forever fearful that in my writing and speaking that I am setting myself up for humiliation. So tonight I tried to remember the practice poses and rhythms, tried to distinguish my Warrior I from my Warrior II, and actually (for a short while, at least) stopped worrying if I was doing anything correctly. But I was doing it.
            In his memoir, Little Did I Know, Stanley Cavell speaks of his own practice, not Yoga but philosophy. He says, “At most, day to day, isn’t what I have asked myself no more than whether I was interested to continue what I was doing, as I was doing it?” Which I am beginning to understand is not to do philosophy but to be a philosopher. There is the choice between living life and writing about it: Cavell teaches me that the two practices need not be separate.


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