Odyssey.

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As you set out for Ithaka

hope the voyage is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:

you’ll never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them

unless you bring them along inside your soul,

unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.

May there be many a summer morning when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you come into harbors seen for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind—

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you are old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you have gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you would not have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

(Ithaca, Konstantinos Kavafis, 1911)

When I first read this poem, eight years ago, the trip was internal, mental, and emotional.

I guess I always wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been able to define but maybe, now it´s time to leave always and nevers behind, and enjoy the abundance of this moment, being faithful, relax and go on in this trip. That remains internal, even though I´m moving a lot.

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Yoga is also poetry.

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My friend Bárbara lives in London. She is a psychologist and she is doing her master there. She is a devote practitioner and also, a yoga instructor.

I have been working with her since the last year because she needed some testimonies of other yoga practitioners/instructors for her thesis.

A few months ago she sent me a few questions to use as a guide: she needed me to observe my practice in detail. So I did it.

Today I sent to her what I wrote about my observation:

The answer to -almost- all the questions that you sent me to help you is “It depends”.

And that is because the practice of asanas is something that is completely alive. Even now, after ten years of practice, the more I practice the more alive feel it.

In my practice, in general, there is this sensation that I want to go deeper, I would like to penetrate more with my intelligence into my body.

The practice does not feel good all the time. When there is some injury I feel a lot of frustration. Especially when I don´t get what I´m doing wrong and, exactly that addition –pain + frustration + impatience- brings out the worst of me. Then, when understanding finally arises there is a more tender sensation and I can practice with love and awareness of the injured part that is nothing more than my own self.

Right now, the way I look at the practice is changing. If I could put in words my “wish” during the practice this would be to experiment everything that my body could show me: it´s spaces, its knots, its emotions that, all the time are my spaces, knots and emotions.

It is complex.

My body is not essential in the yoga practice but only for the asana practice.

I make a difference there because, for me, yoga goes beyond my body, it´s an emotion. Sometimes it´s easier to feel, sometimes its harder. And its in that sense that the practice changes.

I could not say that the practice brings a specific “state” of mind/body/soul. The word “state” seems to be a little dogmatic, like a place where you can enter and exit, a place that always was there, before you. To say that the yoga practice brings a specific “state” of mind/body/soul puts yoga in something like a place to search in a map –the spiritual map-, outside of yourself and, after you found that place, you can “incorporate” it.

For me, in the other hand, yoga is something that flows within. Something that evolves silently, something that moves. Something that, as seawater does, touches with softness and calm, different parts of oneself, after the wave broke.

As the ocean, yoga is not static, sometimes it has to do with love yourself, sometimes with pushing everything harder, sometimes with patience and so on. It is not about competition, is just to be able to discover my maximum potential.

When I started to practice all different emotions came out and, thanks to them, I learnt how to love myself, I learnt how to accept good and bad things of myself, how to flow with the events of life. That calm that I felt after a few hours of practice helped me to accept with honesty and love almost everything (inside and outside). Now this ability is much deeper because even when my asana practice is stacked, I can´t lie to myself.  And here is where we can see yama and niyama.

I can´t lie to myself, I can´t “rob” myself, covet is useless.

For me, yoga has to be with happiness. Or maybe that is not the correct word.

Yoga has to do with the emotion of being alive, understanding the infinite potential. Because God is not outside, but inside. He is not there, but here.

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