Truth and Method. AY:A2 Summer Retreat.

by Angela

Stone Arch, Summer 2012

Stone Arch, Summer 2012


What is honest practice?

What is the relationship of strong method and insight that goes beyond technique? Is it even possible to stay devoted to a practice for many years without a break?

These questions have been floating around. We will take the mental conditions they create (like curiosity, and doubt, and faith) and let them dissolve in raw experience, just by hanging out together. This retreat doesn’t offer answers, but strong inspiration for practice is a very good bet.


July 6, 2014. 10-4. (Mysore practice from 8-9:30.)

May 30-July 5. Many ashtangis will come to Ann Arbor for the whole Fourth of July weekend or longer, so a series of spontaneous gatherings the first week of July is likely. A potluck on Friday evening, the Fourth, is likely. Let me know you’re around and I will put you on the mailing list for the whole week.


Open now to all regular Mysore practitioners at AY:A2. And to home practitioners around the country who work with me.

Retreat opens May 15 to anyone with a daily practice in the yoga tradition: drop a line now for the wait list.


July 6. (1) Regular morning Mysore practice (for AY:A2 members, and others by permission), (2) Break for drinks (Ashtangis take over the Drowsy Parrot), (3) Technique class on deep alignment – that of awareness, intention, body and energy (4) simple breathwork, guided pratyhara on working with the in-drawn senses, maybe a little chanting (5) Lunch (6) Party favors as usual.

First week of July: drop-in Mysore practice for daily practitioners who are visiting. Daily meditation group for those with an established sitting practice. Random technique discussions with AJ if the need arises. Farmers markets. Walks in the Arboretum. River kayaking. Picnics. Sparklers. Spontaneous hanging out. Whatever community you want to create with others on the same path of daily practice.


July 6 is at Stone Arch, a decommissioned church in downtown Saline. (Pictured above.) Carpool available.

If you need accommodation for multiple nights in Ann Arbor, let AJ know, or check Craigslist. Many university students and professors leave town for the summer, so accommodation close to downtown is easy to find.

       TO PREPARE.

(1) Register by email, and pay now to confirm.

(2) Practice your head off. If there is ever a day you don’t “want” to practice, that’s an opportunity to burn off an old habit. Take it. If you run in to trouble, use the anticipation of this retreat as motivation.

(3) Do not actually read the book Truth and Method. If you want to read something, go for the 2013 edition of The Yoga Makaranda, by TKV Krishnamacharya; Chip Hartranft’s translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Steven Mitchell’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita. Solid gold yoga texts.


Sliding scale for July 6: (1) Full-time academic students or those in financial need: 65. (Talk with AJ if you have financial concerns.) (2) Middle class people: 115. (3) Support a diverse student body: 145.

Regular Mysore practice is $20 for the day or $100 for the week. Talk with AJ if you have an unbroken daily practice and are in financial need.


What is honest practice? Does my mind have to be 100% concentrated? Do my intentions have to be 100% pure? Do I have to practice with no attachment to results?


Faith helps, but sometimes it goes away. Consciousness awareness really helps, but sometimes consciousness gets weird. We can still practice.

This retreat is named for Hans-Georg Gadamer’s 1960 opus, Truth and Method. Those of you who have read it will have experienced the same re-recognition that rocked through me in considering the question of honest practice: Truth is a feature of conscious experience. That’s it. It is not outside of us. Moreover, our practice is given life  (and given the possibility for integrity) through really engaging with our life’s context – with our history, community, and body-mind activity.

And practice is given life by the way we talk when we talk about yoga. It has to be done some times, but it is a good idea to be careful with language, both the words in our heads and the ones that are spoken. Words create a lot of reality – sometimes too much.

But when the ashtanga practice really catches fire in us, that happens in the belly. Below the threshold of language. There is an honesty in this. A truth.

Pattabhi Jois was a textual scholar who often taught with tiny scraps of language. You take practice. You do. Small words. Modest ideas. More than modest transformation. With SKPJ’s way of being at the forefront, all AY:A2 can really offer is a chance to come together to breathe and laugh and sigh as a group. Questions that have been lurking will get some space to breathe as well.

We’ll get a chance to be around many people whose gritty, gentle sadhana isn’t a belief system, or something to prove. It is just a condition of their unfolding being. I don’t know of something more honest than the way a devoted practitioner moves through her life. Chances are you already embody more of that honesty than you think.

Retreat space is limited.