Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On learning


2 quotes in the beginning before I start with my own Tuesday morning ramblings. Shall the masters speak first.

"Practice and all is coming."  P. Jois
"There is no ceiling to the knowledge available unless we choose to seal our mind from learning." David Swenson in "Ashtanga yoga" (page 129)

Davis's sentence was written in the chapter where he introduced the second series and where he gave tips when to start with it. Not to leave you in the dark, he thinks the yogi/yogini should be able to practice primary without looking into books in order to check which asana comes next. before starting second series. And he/she should be able to practice primary without needing breaks.
When to start second series is not the topic here.

I wanted to write about learning.
1. To practice is so very important, without practice nothing will happen.
2. But in order to improve a practice, we also must learn how to improve our practice. It's possible to maintain a sloppy practice over years. It's possible to perform asanas the wrong way over years.
- A good teacher can help to improve the practice. But we must also be open to the feed-back.
- If there is no teacher available, or if classes are too crowded, so that feed-back is very seldom, we must study ourselves and be critical towards ourselves.
Self-studying can happen in many ways:
1. Important is to observe oneself, being conscious during the practice. Critical mind is needed.
2. Reading relevant books is a possibility.
3. Taking pictures of asanas and comparing these pictures with asanas performed by people who study much longer than we, can help.
4. Youtube also gives a lot of inspiration.
5. Seeing the mistakes of others can give us hints how to improve our own practice. Often we do the same mistakes. Hahahaha.

In my case, I could improve my practice in the last year due to excellent teacher M and my daily practice (3 times Mysore class, 3 times home practice most of the time).
Having a good teacher is the golden way, the fast way to get better.
But yogis/yoginis can make the best out of every situation.

What is true for practicing yoga is also true for writing. In fact today's topic came up while I read an article on writing. Often the tip is given: write, write, write. But this is not enough. In order to write well, it's necessary to know grammar, spelling to name the basic tools. It's also necessary to learn how to write so that the reader gets curious and remains on the side. The next blog is a click away only.
An exciting beginning is necessary, I read.  An interesting end is evenly important . A good end in a blog post can be a question, a request. Here it is:

What's your favourite learning method? What helps you most in improving your practice? Your teacher, filming yourself, observing yourself, reading, going to workshops, seeing the mistakes of others?

Picture: paschimottanasana. My paschimottanasana looks more modest these days. I learned that it is important to have active legs, a straight back, engaged bandhas. The shoulders move back and not forward to the feet. The feet are like in standing position and don't drift outwards. The elbows point outwards, too. Not important is to bring the head to the legs if the price is to round the back or to bend the knees. See my personal paschimottanasana history. The longer I practice the more modest this pose looks like, but I think my understanding of this asana has improved these days.

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