Brussels yoga + shibari third day

Teaching yoga for the first time in quite some while. It’s very different from doing, which is almost automatic, the progression through movements. I decided to spend some time on standing poses and upper back extensions – I seem to find my upper back less agreeable to movement when I spend long times sitting and working in front of this screen, and also find that basic extensions and rotations in the thoracic make a huge difference to how I feel. I’ll be teaching again on Friday, perhaps something similar.

After a break we ended up talking till around 16h. Some of this was proper introductions and background as to why each of us came to shibari and the workshop, some of it was talking about issues from yesterday. It was gratifying to hear so many people mention feminism in the context of their interest in shibari and bondage, and equally gratifying to hear so many talk about their desire to more open and address their internal barriers.

Perhaps this is a peculiarly western thing, part of the cultural fixation with freedom and self-realisation, but equally at times in Dasniya’s workshops and classes, seeing people struggle to be honest with themselves and confronting aspects of their identity often deeply engrained, and finding enjoyment in doing so and changing, I think of Iain Banks’ anarcho-utopia of the Culture, and see something of that here.

Dasniya and I spend a lot of time into the evening talking about the day, talking about what comes up, what we might do tomorrow, both as practical concerns as well as emotional, psychological, cultural. It should be said that this stuff is not easy or uncomplicated. As yoga can be (still thinking over my book on the black side of yoga), so can shibari and these workshops.

Possibly it’s the way we are working with rope, shibari, bondage (and yoga) – at quite a remove from typical representations of shibari as well as from typical interpersonal dynamics – that allows for a certain freedom to experiment because it is without the feeling that it slips into these recognisable instances. At any rate, there is a clear and obviously apparent difference in what we are all doing when we go from more traditional figures to the newer experimental stuff.

And speaking of which, as everyone was working with various things from single rope technique to hammock suspension to self-unsuspension, alone in groups intermingling, I thought about where all this might be up to, as a list of ideas – something I did a while ago.

I photographed Dasniya while she was demonstrating the single rope technique, and thought perhaps to put a documentary series somewhere on her website, but as a string of words and phrases describing what we are doing here are some:

Single layer rope (not doubled over as in traditional shibari), no starting knot (the rope end held in place by friction of overlying ropes), looping the rope (instead of pulling it all the way through, just pulling through a bight), hooking the loop over body parts (toes or knee for example) or pulling another bight through the bight, bridging between body-parts (e.g. between shin and toes) and then wrapping over the bridging ropes, space – negative space, open areas and dense areas, general messiness, twisting ropes together (using braid theory), extraction (pulling out the beginning end of the rope and wrapping it somewhere new, semi-undoing (unbinding the rope until some slack occurs and then rebinding in a new order), knots – wrapping or securing knots and bird’s nests (a clump of rope) in rope into the figure, shibari bits – richtungs wechslers, blumen, and other standard knots and bends, open binding (e.g. a leg bound with usual restrictiveness and then connecting to the wrist with a long, semi-loose rope to partially restrict), body part connections (foot bound to thigh, knee bound to shoulder), looseness (pulling strands out of the figure and tying them back in, aesthetics of messiness and unfinishedness, ‘anthropomorphic’ rope (giving the rope the experience of being tied and tying), sound, texture, dynamics (i.e. considering senses besides sight), pain, motion, balance (i.e. considering perception besides the five senses) … all this just for a start.

dasniya beginning tying
dasniya beginning tying
finishing binding a leg
finishing binding a leg
lewis binding his leg
lewis binding his leg