Reflections on Task 19 and Task 20 – Find the Yoga Postures

Dear Marie,

thank you for task 19. Below you can find an audio recording I did the first morning I took the weight off, after wearing it for two consecutive days, and then some written comments. Further down you can find instructions for Task 20.

 

 

You asked me to attach a weight on me and you gave me the opportunity to choose the side and part of the body where the weight would be attached.

I chose to work with a handful of coins, set in a plastic bag, which could be easily tied around my ankle. I chose to work with the left side. There is a big bad knot on the left side just under the left shoulder-blade, I think,  as a result of scoliosis on the right side. This, I think, shortens the entire left side and the left leg. So I thought that a weight on the left ankle could nudge this side down.

Now that I write all this, I realise that I chose to approach the whole task as a corrective procedure. Attaching a weight somehow had to have a rationale, it had to make sense, it had to be ‘good’ for something. And I also realise that what the audio clip captures is my attempt to convince myself that there must be some benefit to this. And yet, the task was not set as an exercise of correcting anything. This is what I brought to it, in my attempt to make sense of its absurdity: the only way to make sense of the task was to somehow construe it as an orthopedic procedure. And although I am critical of such an approach, I now see how deeply ingrained it is: of doing and undoing stuff to the body in order to correct it, in order to make it better. Such approach is not limited to yoga, but it is exemplified by it. 

I did not do Urdva Dhanurasana with the weight on. I barely practised yoga the days I was wearing it, I was too tired!  Yet, I was convinced of the necessity of it, in order to undo all the tensions that were set up after carrying the weight the entire day. So there we are, I approached the task entirely through the orthoperformative approach that underpins yoga, and this created the need for doing yoga…I think I will continue doing for all my life, but  I would like to start doing yoga for other reasons.

Task 20 – Find the yoga postures

I want us to play a bit with the idea that invitations for movement are everywhere and all we have to do is see them. Have a look at this sculpture by Austin Wright: https://library.leeds.ac.uk/events/event/1900/galleries/12/austin-wright-emerging-forms

and find all the yoga postures that may be in there. Create a sequence of them, in the same way postures are sequenced in Ashtanga. Share the sequence, and anything else you would like, in the Blog.

One thought on “Reflections on Task 19 and Task 20 – Find the Yoga Postures

  1. Hello Maria and Marie!

    I have been following your posts throughout the project and have loved the way they have animated parts of my daily life… I saw a half-frozen puddle on my way to the train station the other day and suddenly felt in my toes the sensation of stepping through it barefoot — a flashback to Marie treading through rock pools.

    So I have had my experience enriched by your explorations, but for some reason have been holding back from sharing my reactions — it’s as if I don’t want to disturb the subtle ebb and flow of your conversation. I’m reminded of a book I loved growing up called Griffin and Sabine, made up entirely of letters sent between two people… and I think I’d slipped into that mode of passive reception by reading your posts.

    But recently reflecting on this, I realized that the little moments that I’ve been having, influenced by your posts, are fleeting. Without committing them to words… and the process of distillation that that entails, they tend to float away rather than accumulating and adding something more tangible to my perception of the world. So here is an attempt to put one of these responses into reply that I can share with you.

    I enjoyed the particular way Vertical Orientation (Task 19) was given and received. The task itself seemed to build upon the previous task — sculpting the body through the use of the weights. The tension between the inanimate dead weight and the organic lived-in body was intriguing. I had memories of taking off a heavy tramping pack and having the momentary sensation of flying.

    Maria’s dedication in taking the task on for two days surprised me — and the medicinal, curative interpretation of it made perfect sense as a way to commit to it, although I hadn’t seen it this way myself. I enjoyed the surprise in your voice, Maria, when you didn’t have that sensation of lightness upon removing the weight as I had also expected.

    This task made me reflect on the way I see my own training. I often see it as a necessary task to take on — knowing that it will be ‘good for me’ and forcing myself to do it as a task to be completed… medicine to swallow. On the good days, however, once the process has started, my breathing flows through my body, and my awareness extends out into my environment, it becomes more than a functional task to complete, but an expansion of my perception. These moments provide enough space from my everyday busyness to let something else in… and maybe later these chinks of light are enough to build into a moment of inspiration and creativity…

    So for me, often the initiation of yoga starts as an obligation for physical adjustment, but sometimes develops into something more… on the good days at least!

    So thank you both for your dedication to these posts, they are appreciated.

    Warmest Regards, from a frozen London,

    James

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