This weekend, I went to a workshop with Chuck Miller in the Liffey Trust Dance Studios, it focused on Sama Vinyasa: Breath, Roots, Core – Ashtanga Yoga. I was only able to attend 2 sessions: Standing Poses on Friday evening and inversions on Saturday, so I lapped up every single minute.
The overall theme of the workshop was Sama, the Sanskrit word that depicts the meaning cluster of same, like, level, unaltered, even or straight. In other contexts it’s been translated as calmness, tranquility, control of the mind, as in SAMAdhi, and so we spend a good long time in SAMAstithi, standing posture, standing firmly without moving, trying to find the evenness, the centeredness in this basic pose.
Chuck talked to us about the practice not leading to some kind of success, by achieving more and more complicated, challenging posed (a basic truth, that nevertheless I need to be reminded over and over and over again), but to become more even, more levelled and unaltered in the simplest of forms, poses, actions. He taught that the practice is not like running forwards into new forms, but rather bringing us back to the form and function that we are meant to be, before we accumulated all the bad habits of wrong posture, misuse of the body, before injuries and sickness have occurred to every one of us, to greater or lesser extent.
Yes. And I notice that the more I practice Yoga, the clearer I can feel that there are all these imbalances in me, the twists and unevenness, the inefficiency that I have slipped into, over my living years. So, this weekend we were practicing to come back to a more Sama state, staying in postures for long, quite long, waiting for our bodies to reveal more of the un-sama-ness in us, and then to try and gently correct.
Having practiced yoga with my ego leading forward for many good years, overworking my body in the futile attempt to prove that I-am- just-as-good-as-anybody-else, or to please my teachers (I can smile about that now when I catch myself doing it again), I accumulated a few little but persistent injuries throughout my body, hello sacroiliac joint, hello right knee and right deltoid muscle! Reliant indicators for me of where to go and what to avoid in my practice.
Chuck summed it up in a very comprehensible, useful way, as we were all standing in Trikonasana for a good while: Distribute the work/stress evenly throughout the body, making a significant effort to share the stress throughout the spine (as opposed to damage one bit of the body by relying heavily on it, usually a rather strong or rather numb part within us)
So, this gave me a few beautiful new (but old) impulses for my practice, and also I was delighted to meet again some comrades from the teacher trainings in the Elbowroom and trainings with Dave Curtis’s Vinyasa Flow Yoga.