How to Clean Your Slate

As previously mentioned, I’ve just started a Level I Anusara Yoga Immersion. Part of Anusara Yoga is focusing intently on foundation, long holds, placing your hands in exactly the right way, and in any given posture, making sure you take what seems like a million steps (well: fire your leg muscles, tuck your tail bone, turn your hip back, align your feet…I guess that’s more like 6, assuming I forgot 2) before you get it right. For those of you that are familiar, it’s probably most similar to the Iyengar tradition.

Bottom line is: It ain’t that fast. So when I found myself in a traditional Vinyasa flow class last night, I spent the hour and 15 minutes making sure that my knuckle pads were deeply embedded in the floor while the rest of the class had already moved through 1/2 of a sequence. Now, I may do a lot of yoga and read an occassional book about meditation. If you are crying or having a panic attack, I can sit down with you and rub your back while leading breathing exercizes that I learned in my days as a wanna-be actor. Supposedly, I have a very soothing voice-over voice.

But I definitely have one of the shortest fuses of anyone I know. In fact, I spend about 92% of my day really pissed off and irritated at someone, or something. Last night’s Yoga class was no exception. In between looking around frantically to see what everyone one was doing, I practiced my sneer. My sigh. My world-famous eye roll. I plotted a list of things to complain about in my head on the walk home. (Yes, I’m so neurotic, I plot my angry internal rants in advance.)

Then something happened: Shivasana. Shivasana is the magic time at the end of the class when the teacher lets you lie on your back and close your eyes. I used to be really annoyed about shivasana too (why I wasting my time sleeping at the gym???) and sometimes I still feel antsy when I’m there. But last night, it was a huge relief. All my evil thoughts towards the teacher, towards flow-based yoga, towards warrior three….gone! I started plotting about how I would go up to the teacher and thank her for making my night.

Then I realized–I had been manipulated! Shivasana was obviously some ploy used by yoga teachers to make your forget how much class completely freaking stank! I started plotting a blog post that would expose the evils of gym yoga teachers and sleep.

But on the train this morning, I realized something. Shivasana’s English translation is “corpse pose.” Sounds morbid, but attached to the idea of dying in the pose is actually an innate component of rebirth. In other words, it’s time to clean your slate and start over. It’s designed to be “manipulation,” only there’s no trickery involved. It’s just a nice way of saying–hey, maybe we made some mistakes. Let’s let go of our annoyance with those mistakes, and move on to apply new strategies.

It’s kind of like how when I cleaned out my desk Monday, I threw out tons of hand outs from my two years at Dulcinea that were no longer relevant to our current work-flow. In your post-Shivasana reincarnation, you’re not going to forget everything you did, but are going to put aside the feelings of aggravation, blockage and confusion that crop when recall truncated efforts from our past.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t do things like write blog posts that are critical of other yoga traditions than your own (oops.) But if you can feel less annoyed, you might be able to spend your time plotting more prodcutive activities.


3 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Slate

  1. RB,Wonderful post! I enjoyed hearing how you were processing thoughts in yoga class, and how you experienced the shift during savasana. Also, your interpretation of it rang true. Good work!


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