Reflections Task 26 and Task 27 – The ‘rightness’ of a posture

Dear Maria,

Thanks for task 26, you can find my reflections below and your next task 27 –  The ‘rightness’ of a posture.

I found it very moving to read your response to task 25. Your report of yours and Dimitris relationship to the yoga practice and how it resonates so differently on your respective cultural and environmental circumstances felt very true to the idea of the project: to creatively explore the potential of the yoga practice. And it made me excited for the many avenues of tasks and responses that remains to be discovered for the last part of the Two Trainers Prepare-journey.

Reflections Task 26 – MYOYP

First thing to say is that I was very excited to do this task, how wonderful to get license to practice yoga ‘off the script’. The topic of ownership of the postures also addresses issues I’ve had in relation to my own yoga teaching syllabus: at what point does Trikonasana stop being Trikonasana when a student’s general physique doesn’t enable them to make the posture look remotely like my idea of what the shape should be? I will return to this question further down.

Polly Penrose’s photographs are beautiful and to avoid replicating her idea and postures – and perhaps because I am afraid of doing postures and pictures a lot less interesting than hers –  I decide to abandon my initial thought to photograph myself in ‘non-syllabus-postures’.  I am very interested, though, in your instruction to relate my own postures to my environment and wonder how I can think of environment not only as my physical surroundings but also more widely as my circumstances as a dance artist and a mother living in Denmark. Penrose uses furniture and yoga props as obstruction/facilitator for her images. My obstruction/facilitator is the perpetual presence of my four-year-old daughter. I want to embrace the reality of regularly being interrupted on the yoga mat by her, when she wishes to teach me her own postures. I am curious to find out what practicing yoga means to a child who takes part in and observes many asana practices but who is not restricted by the bounds of ‘yoga postures’.

The Flip

So here is what I did: As we were walking home from my daughter’s kindergarten, I asked her to teach me some of ‘her yoga’. She immediately started moving around and wiggling and jumping. I said: ‘I was thinking more of those moves you do when we practice together on the yoga mat.’ She stopped and looked at me with sincerity: ‘this is yoga’, she said.

For her, yoga is movement, not individual postures separate from each other. This brought my attention to the movement I do in between postures. The following days I spent some time practicing and dwelling on the transitions that are outside the syllabus of Ashtanga Yoga, the moves that link the ‘formal postures’. One movement is the jump from Samastitihi (Tadasana) at the front of the mat to standing postures like Trikonasana or Parsvakonasana. In the short clip below you can see us practice this. I call it The Flip.

 

Task 27: The ‘rightness’ of a posture

I return to the question posed above: at what point does a poorly execution of Trikonasana disassociate the posture with its name?

For your next task I want you to focus on variations and modifications of one posture of your choice and come up with as many different versions as you can. Using a search engine to find e.g. ‘images of Utthita Trikonasana’ is completely valid. You can write your reflections as a description of each variation or take photos of yourself practicing them to feed back to the blog. I am particularly curious to hear whether you, with an Iyengar background, have a set of criteria that determine the ‘rightness’ of a posture and, if so, what they are and when you know they have been achieved.

Enjoy!

Call for Book Reviews Editor

Call for Book Reviews Editor

Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), Routledge

The co-editors of the international journal, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Professor Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Dr Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London) are seeking to recruit a Book Reviews Editor to work closely with them and with the rest of the editorial team, on this very successful journal, published by Routledge.  Now in its 9th year, the journal runs to 3 issues annually and attracts contributions from scholars and practitioners across the globe. As part of our tenth birthday celebrations, we are planning to expand to four issues per year and this appointment is a reflection of our expansion both in ambition and audience reach.

We seek a highly creative, motivated, organised and collegiate individual with demonstrable specialism in theatre, dance and / or performer training to oversee a step-change in the review provision the journal offers. We pride ourselves on the diversity of reviews offered within the pages of TDPT and as such we are dividing up the Review Editor role into two – with the review of training events already covered by current editorial expertise.  The new Book Reviews Editor will work closely with the Events Review Editor building up the books review section of the journal to provide an appropriately global perspective on publications in the field, offering both critical and celebratory impetus to performer training research. Our book reviews section includes critical evaluation of new books and reviews of classic texts (often by invested practitioners) and it will be part of the Editor’s brief to innovate further within this remit, perhaps to establish dialogic reviews or themed reviews of more than one book.

In addition to the opportunities to shape the book reviews development, working on TDPT will offer you unique insights into academic publication and provide you with opportunities to develop your own networks with scholars and practitioners, as well as to contribute to wider discussions about the content and continued development of the journal.

You should be:

  • An active researcher of performer training with a good knowledge base of current published work in the field.
  • Networked nationally and/or internationally in performer training circles.
  • An individual with some experience of editing and/or peer review in theatre related academic work.
  • Interested and embedded in the contemporary debates concerning training and performance and committed to the principles of ethical research.
  • Highly organised, efficient with excellent communication skills.

Book Reviewer Editor’s responsibilities include:

  • Leading on the development of an internationally ambitious reviews section, with critical insight and imagination.
  • Establishing relationships with appropriate publishers and acting as a conduit for review writers.
  • Inviting or commissioning book reviews and ‘Re-reviews’ from appropriate people in the field of performer training.
  • Working closely with Review writers to ensure a fit with the TDPT ethos and style.
  • Liaising with the Journal’s co-editors and Special Issue guest editors to provide regular updates on the status and content of submitted Reviews.
  • Acting as an advocate for the journal at conferences and symposia.
  • Managing the submission of Review manuscripts through the web-based submission tool ScholarOne.
  • Attending if possible the Associate Editors’ AGM (either in person or by Skype).
  • Liaising with publishing staff at Routledge, Taylor & Francis as required.

In keeping with the rest of the roles in the TDPT team, the post is unpaid but all travel and expenses will be paid.

To apply please send a CV and a one-page statement of your relevant skills, and interests including your aspirations for building an exceptional profile for the Book Reviews section in TDPT to j.pitches@leeds.ac.uk and libby.worth@leeds.ac.uk

For more information and an informal discussion please contact: Professor Jonathan Pitches j.pitches@leeds.ac.uk and/or Dr Libby Worthlibby.Worth@rhul.ac.uk

 

Deadline for applications is 5pm (GMT), May 21st 2018.

 

Reflections Task 25 and Task 26 – MYOYP

Dear Marie,

many thanks for Task 25. As the task necessitated the involvement of another person, below you can find my reflections and the reflections of my friend, Dimitris, who joined me in the last part of the task. Below these, you can find task 26.

Dimitris and I trained together in Iyengar Yoga for a couple of years in early 2000s and he has been following our project for some time. When I last spoke to him in summer 2017, he was eager to re-connect with his yoga practice. Dimitris has been living in a Christian Orthodox monastery for four years now. He is therefore aware of  the Orthodox Church’s position that  condemned yoga as ‘incompatible with the Christian Orthodox faith’. In a comment he made on task 20, he invited us to: ‘Do the next task as if you were living in a monastery where yoga is considered demonic and while you are doing it say the names of the poses loudly!!!!’. So when we connected on Sunday the 15th of April through WhatsApp, Dimitris and I shared a common practice, which proved very influential for us both,  but were in diametrically opposite cultural contexts, at least in terms of yoga. My culture is one that has embraced yoga and turned into a staple of ‘busy’ western lifestyle. Dimitris’s  environment – to put it mildly – has remained immune to such influences.  I practise in my bedroom overlooking the drive of a quiet northern English urban street; Dimitris practises in one of the storerooms of the monastery overlooking the Aegean sea. 

 

After some deliberation, we decided to do the following five postures:

  • Setu Badha Savargasana , supported.
  • Downward Dog x2
  • Trikonasana x2
  • Parsvokonasana x2
  • Tadasana

Going against the convention we have followed so far, i.e. addressing our reflections to each other, Dimitris’s reflections are addressed to me and my reflections are addressed to him. Both texts are below in italic.

———————————————————————–

Dear Maria,

I feel grateful for the chance you gave me to collaborate in this task.

The part of practicing together at the same time was a great motivation for me, because I haven’t practised for very long and it was something I really needed to do, but I wouldn’t do it by myself. So, the highlights of practising together definitely are this great motivation to practise. Secondly, it was really beneficial that I had to keep myself in a specific and well timed sequence because I usually have a very vague and chaotic way of practising. Thirdly, I felt it as a very nice personal communication with you in a such unique way. Fourthly I had a glimpse of being in a yoga class, an experience which I miss a lot!!!

On the part on practising the sequence by myself I focused a lot on how setu bandha savargasana supported adhomuka svanasana when done in this order. I am so amazed by the fact that setu bandha makes my body do such a better dog pose. So inspired from that I tried to bring the feeling of setu bandha in all the asanas of the sequence and indeed it was so successful!!!!!! I was very happy and amazed. I don’t know if this effect happens due to my specific body needs or that it can be generalised…. It would be very interesting if you try as well and tell me.

In terms of the second part of the task, to imagine that someone observes, I chose to imagine to be observed by a friend who is an osteopath and I am planning to collaborate with her in order to apply osteopathic treatment on the body while doing asanas. Although throughout the practice I kept reminding myself that I am being observed, this didn’t influence my practice, because I was very concentrated on the practice itself and on the fascinating investigations of how the setu bandha feeling influences the rest of the asanas.

That’s all! 

Thank’s again a lot for giving me this beautiful chance of distance training – practising. I have never imagined how nice it can be.

Yours, Dimitris

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Dear Dimitris,

many thanks for agreeing to do this task with me. It felt as a way of (re)connecting with you and did take me back to the classes we used to attend together 15 years ago. I did not like the idea of starting with Setu Badha Savargasana, but I did enjoy having my practice hijacked/altered/influenced by you. The practice of the remaining  postures had a more focused quality than usually. Every time I found I had slipped into a mechanical execution of the movements, I thought of you in two dimensions, simultaneously: one was the present we were sharing during the very moment of the practice. The other was the past. I would imagine that I was in a yoga class and you were somewhere nearby in the studio, totally absorbed in your doing. 

Both of these helped me staying present. A particularly strong moment was in the end when I stood in Tadasana looking out to the familiar view of  my window. There was both a sense of inhabiting my body – in that moment, in that position – as well as a sense of dispersing, extending into space and time, becoming relevant to someone else. I think what I am trying to say is that, after years of solitary practice, I felt in someone’s company. 

Task 26: Make Your Own Yoga Posture (MYOYP)

I have been thinking for some time the wider questions and legal battles that have emerged in relation to yoga copyright: who owns it, who can make a claim and eventually money out of it, who is its rightful proprietor? The radical differences between my and Dimitris’s environs also makes me wonder about the cultural context in which the practice is situated, grows, and changes. Finally, I got inspired by the work of Polly Penrose, who created a series of photographs of her own yoga postures.

So your task is to create a set of 3-5 yoga postures that are new, i.e. not part of the existing syllabi, and relate to your everyday environment. You have to name the postures and practise them for a few days, before you bring back your reflections to the Blog. You do not have to do the postures naked, unless you want to!

 

 

Reminder – Call for a co-editor of this Blog – Deadline 9 April

Dear All,

Applications for a co-editor for the TDPT Blog close this Monday, 9 April.  Please apply or pass on to those who might be interested.

It might be particularly of interest to those Early Career Researchers looking to develop their networks of academics and practitioners.

Wee look forward to hearing from you!

Best Wishes,

James

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