when i mentioned that, for a grand total of 2.5 credits, i am taking acrobatic yoga & thai massage, as well as a class entitled “ritual, health, & healing,” my yoga teacher told me that it looks like i am majoring in english and feminist, gender, & sexuality studies and minoring in Awesome.
sounds good to me.
and that is what this semester is beginning to feel like. newness. that was one of my intentions for 2012. towards the end of 2011, i found myself getting too comfortable and complacent with what i already knew how to do - certain styles of yoga & meditation, teaching, people, places. so, in 2012, i am making an effort to just insert myself into the newness, into the Unknown, and learning to be comfortable with Unknowing.
this idea of “unknowing” was part of the initial questions we were asked to answer in ritual, health, & healing. like everything, i did not know what it meant until i experienced it. from the 6-hour-long, wonderful, and draining movement lab to the duerr reading dreamtime that incorporated philosophy that went way over my head, i became well-acquainted with what it means to not know.
i’ll be honest: i took this class because on the textbook list, there is a book on yoga, tantra, & ayurveda. a part of me feels like i am cheating the system - taking a class on healing practices while at a very theory-based university. while readings are phenomenal, i learn through doing. on a day-to-day basis, this (wo)manifests itself on my yoga mat, going through poses, working out kinks of mind, body, soul.
i have been asked a lot lately why i love yoga. this question is So Challenging for me to answer. there are so many different things that go into it, i want the question to be broken down into a bazillion different ones. but here is one thing i am able to articulate based on my experiences in the movement lab on saturday: i love my mat.
i think of my mat as a tiny studio apartment in brooklyn - manageable, easy to clean, having everything i need for just me and no room for anyone else. it is easy to move around on and it is - metaphorically - a two-second convenient walk to the closest subway station. i know it. i know its color, its frays, the tag on the back that is slipping off.
i could not say the same for beckham hall. moving in that space was a challenge. i did not know what to do with it. it was like living in this allegorical brooklyn studio for one and upgrading to a mansion in the middle of virginia with really high ceilings.
also, it seems fit to add that i have zero dance background. many of my fellow yogis do and for me, it’s probably a matter of time, but navigating my body in that space was totally Unknown. navigating other peoples’ bodies in that space was even more Unknown. i thought that, after the movement lab, i would be exhausted and would be done moving for the day, but instead, i felt the desperate need to return to the known, to return to my mat.
so, that night, before dancing in a very different way, in a very different space, i practiced a whole lot of yoga and balanced the Unknown with the known.
two days later, in class, we discussed the fence. we discussed boundaries and limits that shape our experiences. i had a difficult time conceptualizing this reading. i could relate to individual lines like:
The act of insight was at the same time also an act of love (42).
The ‘underdeterminacy’ of experience by such hypotheses supposedly indicated more than anything else the gulf separating earthly knowledge from divine revelatin (94).
For if we can know what another person feels, which of course does not mean we have to be that person, then it would not be possible to either know what we ourselves feel because we would not possess any kind of scale for the nature of our own emotions.
but when it came to the concept of the fence and how it fit into my life, i was a bit stumped…until the tuesday night movement lab when i began to realize that the fence was the borderline between knowing and unknowing. being on the fence means using what i know to inform what i do not know.
on tuesday, i understood the purpose of the movement lab, and of this collaborative class in general - to help us learn theory of ritual, health, and healing, by putting it into practice, in our own bodies.