Monday, March 28, 2011

Cooking Your Practice II: Recipes v. Ratios

You don't have to know anything about Escoffier to cook.  You don't have to know anything about BTU's, the Maillard reaction or colloidal suspensions to cook either.  You can just follow a recipe and make some darn fine food.

But then you have a nice collection of recipes.  What happens when something goes wrong or when you want to experiment?  As we start to learn techniques we can understand how to apply them widely.  A saute is a saute, whether a piece of meat, fish, or vegetable.  The principles are the same.  Ratios unlock another door.  I know that I get a good result when I use 3 parts of oil to 1 part of acid when making an emulsified dressing.  I can use any oil and any acid and still get the same result.

In yoga, there is no practice which is right for everyone.  Krishna presents 3 paths; as he describes one, he seemingly debunks the other two.  Pattabhi Jois states that the Ashtanga method is to be performed exactly as prescribed, then he states that not every asana is correct for every student, the guru will decide which is correct.  These contradictory statements are to encourage us:  If A works for you stick with it, if not, there is B which will yield the same result. 

When we learn asanas alone (triangle is done like this...), we have learned a recipe.  Darn fine food.  When we learn reasons how that physical practice effects the fluctuation of the mind, we are learning techniques and ratios which open many doors.

Learning recipes is a good place to start.  We need to learn to follow directions which yield tested results.  Making stuff up on our own too early in our education leads to not so great results.  Going deeper is learning why.  Got to know why before we teach someone how.

Copy the teacher.  Study.  Learn.  Practice.  Repeat.  Then share results with others.

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