Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Two more sultry Mysore Days....

Yesterday, I took the subway down to Eddie Stern's place and did another Mysore practice. Only made it to Marichi C, and had more trouble binding in it than last time. It was incredibly hot and sweaty there on Monday, not that that should be an excuse. But all of the slipping and sliding and adjusting my towel did make it difficult to focus fully. Really!

I worked really hard though. The usual suspects were there - the girl who can do the entire Intermediate Series, the man I met my first day there, who is still working with the standing series. Then there were these two incredibly agile, strong (but wiry), tattooed men who moved quickly through the entire Primary and Intermediate Series as I worked my way through part of the Primary. I view practioners like that with awe and the tiniest bit of envy....yes, I do...I acknowledge it. But I also know that it's really all about where YOU are on any given day, and on your path in general. It's not a competition. The benefits of the practice accrue to you wherever you are practicing. That is one thing that I love about it.

That being said, I do have to say that Eddie's place is a bit more foreboding that Guy's. I am not sure if it is the level of practitioner, the personality of those who are attracted to Eddie's versus Guy's place, but it does seem to me that the atmosphere is friendlier, more casual, at Guy's shala. It is subtle, but I feel it. Now, don't get me wrong....Eddie's place is incredibly beautiful and inviting. But it seems perhaps a bit elitist. Is it just me projecting? Perhaps. But perhaps there really is something there.....For example, at Eddie's yesterday, I got absolutely no adjustments, no help at all after Marichi C...and I wasn't invited to attempt Marichi D or to take Navasana either...as for backbends, I was on my own. That was kind of a bummer. Then as I was preparing to leave, I chatted a bit with one of the guys who was practicing at the same time as me. When I told him that I teach Vinyasa yoga, he remarked, "Did you know that the yoga you teach comes from THIS yoga." I was like, "no shit." OK, I didn't say that. But I was thinking it...I mean, I told him I was a teacher - did he think I didnt know that the ASHTANGA means Eight Limbs, etc.? I then told him that the yoga school that certified me, Om, actually is not based on Ashtanga but on Iyengar's alignment method. He looked at me like I was soooooooooo stupid and said, "where did you get that, some ancient scripture?"

Well, that was quite the nonsequitor.

So, I asked him what he meant, to which he informed me, "Iyengar is not vinyasa-based." Again, it's like, NO SHIT, but I stayed in a place of equanimity, attempting to clarify that I wasn't saying that Iyengar is based on vinyasa, but rather that the vinyasa yoga that I was taught to teach is based on Iyengar, and midway through, my voice simply trailed off...this was not going to be a conversation that would ever feel good or right. I just gave up.

On the bright side, he did tell me to have a nice day though.... No hard feelings I guess - as long as I came away from the whole thing realizing what an absolute novice I am. Am I right?

Today, I made my way back to Guy's Ashtanga Yoga Shala, and it was so enjoyable to simply ride down Second Ave and walk across Thompkins Square Park to get there. When I got there, it smelled of Chai Tea and basically just felt comfy and unintimidating. Kim Baxter, who also teaches at New York Yoga, was there for her daily practice, and that felt comforting - to see a face I recognized, a smart person, someone with whom I can actually have an intelligent conversation. Kim sometimes takes my classes at New York Yoga...another reason I like her...because she likes my classes....;-)

Mark greeted me and asked me to remind him of my name. He showed me where to place my mat. I stretched a bit, and then I began. I promised myself that I would NOT take too long in the standing series, which always saps my energy. And sure enough, I finished in under 35 minutes. That was nice! I had quite a few problems with my mat again, with the slipperiness and fiddling with my hand towel. And my jump throughs were just not happening, and everything felt a bit stiff.

I wondered when your body gets used to practicing day after day after day, and I tried to simply treat it all with equanimity - it's just another day, it's just another practice, there's always tomorrow - all the stuff I tell my students all the time, over and over again when I encourage them to practice, practice, practice, and all is coming....

I remarked to Mark that I was unusually stiff today, and he said sometimes that happens, and to think about what I had eaten the night before. Cookie Dough. Ha. Not a good thing. One thing I have noticed lately is that my desire for crap has definitely been on a downturn. Is the Ashtanga doing that for me? If it is, yay!

Anyway, we did get to Marichi D, although not particularly auspiciously. I don't think we bound on either side, and to be honest, I was totally relieved when he said to move to Navasana and then to the finishing sequence. I think that is what it is SUPPOSED to feel like - you stop when it is just too much already. And it was feeling like it was getting to be too much already.

Rushed through Navasana so much that Mark noticed and said, "you can't be done...five times???" I said, well, I could have counted fast...and then I laughed, and started again....I like a little humor with my yoga...

Backbends felt good. Mark spotted me, and went through it with me vinyasa style (stopping on the crown of the head between the first two). And I finished up and purchased my three-per-week class-pack.

Oh, and Mark showed me how to jump through more properly, with more control. It was a good practice. But in truth, it did leave me slightly anxious about whether I will ever progress. But I need to let that go.

After I finished practicing, I went to lobby area - and I dig that there IS a lobby area - and met Guy's wife, Lori, a perfectly charming, earthy, thirtysomething with a four year old daughter and a beautiful lotus flower stud in her right nostril. We talked about the slipping and sliding, and she recommended an Ashtanga rug - the thick kind, which I purchased on the spot. She also recommended washing my yoga mat in a non-softening detergent. We shall see how that goes.

The incredible thing is that each day, I look forward to practicing. There is nothing stale. The path is endless in Ashtanga, and the practice is purely for the sake of practicing. It is entirely Sysiphisian, but in a good way. You have to realize the hill is never-ending, the rock is always going to be on its way up, until it's on its way down, and then it's on its way up again anyway. Something about it - it just works for me.

Stressing me out slightly is trying to figure out when I am going to practice at New York Yoga and when, if ever, I will be going to Eddie's place. Since Eddie allows drop-ins, I guess I can go whenever - maybe for LED class on Sunday.

This is very exciting to me, this exploration....


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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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