Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Namaste Shout-Out to my Commentators....

First, I want to just say thank you to you IVDP, Grace, Beryl and Beth (who commented privately) for giving me some wonderful ideas and input. One of the things I love about the Ashtanga practice is that it does make you think. It makes you mindful. It's a tool for self-study (well, duh).

With that in mind, I took M-B's led class today, and she actually taught it as a Mysore practice today. I was probably the only student in the class who was truly happy about that, as I really wanted to go at my own pace and go deeply into certain poses, more than others. She change the format right after we did our first Surya Namaskar B, and I was thrilled, because now I was free to float at my own pace, my own breath, my own physical openness. I am really enjoying Surya B lately - I have found an openness in my groins that wasn't there in all the years I have practiced, and it makes the transitions up feel really cool and expansive.

I smoothly made my way all the way through Mari B (on both sides - new name: Mari Both!) when the students around me started asking me, "What comes next?" One of them is my good friend Paula, who was my very first student. I used to lead her through two hour sessions when I was first a teacher - practicing my teaching techniques. The quid pro quo is she would give me an honest assessment of how she liked what we did that day. This went on for many months, and then my studio-teaching schedule got too busy, combined with Paula's work schedule (she's an executive at L'Oreal). Anyway, I digress. So, Paula asked me what came after Paschimotannasa C, and I told her it was Purvotanasana, but that Mary-Beth would have to "give it" to her. M-B over heard this exchange, and asked me if I would mind assisting the rest of the class. I was more than happy to do so.

So, I kind of abandoned my practice for a while and walked Paula through Purvo and then Mikoho through Janu A, B and C, and then I gently helped Paula to bind in Mari C (I was so happy when she remarked that she felt how I was helping her to internally rotate her front arm in order to more deeply bind - so many students don't realize it as an INTERNAL rotation that you need in order to get your arm behind you) and another student to go deep into Mari B.

Then I went back to my own practice, and ALMOST bound in Mari C by myself - fingers touching on both sides. I am still in another zip code in Mari D, without a teacher assisting me. Then I quickly Navasana-ed, Bujapidasana-ed and Kurmasana-ed and went to backbends because Mary-Beth really wanted us to have time to do Headstand after backbends.

Anyway, I totally lost my train of thought....where was I going with this? Oh yeah, after class, M-B had to help the students understand why trying it Mysore-style will ultimately help their practice (I think I saw the manager cringing behind the desk...), and I supported her, but for the sake of the cringing manager, I felt obligated to say, "And it will help us in our LED practice, which we are doing most of the time...right???!!!" Truth is, I don't want the Ashtanga classes to lose their students - because then we lose the Ashtanga classes. So, the Upper East Side is a very tricky place to teach. You have to give the students what they NEED but with GENEROUS portions of what they want.

Still not the point I was going for it is: After the other students left, M-B and I talked about this feeling of dread that has been building in me lately about my practice and the latter poses in my practice, and my confusion over which shala to practice at, and what teacher is right for me. She confirmed what I suspected - there are as many different styles of teaching Ashtanga as there are personalities. It seems that I enjoy a more feminine energy, and that although I THOUGHT, INITIALLY, that I wanted a teacher that would let me just whip through the Primary Series, it seems that now I would be more comfortable standing still for a while, absorbing what I already am working with, not thinking about "what comes next" and when I will be "given it". I think the best way for me to enjoy my practice now is to learn all I can from the poses up to Mari C and D and wring them for all the knowledge an philosophy they can offer until my body and mind begin craving something more, something else. I don't know if I want to give up Buja and Kurmasana, but I do know that I don't want to even contemplate Garba Pindasana until my body and mind are literally CRAVING it. I'll know.

It's like - Surya A five times feels like NOTHNG for me. But there was a time when it was a LOT. So, it's changed. Surya B feels like a little something more than nothing, but not nearly as much work as it used to be, not nearly as much thought as I needed to put into it in the past. I want all of the poses up through Navasana to be like that for me (Navasana is like that already, which is why I keep mentioning C and D) before I have to think about another pose.

I don't want to be like that legendary frog who wanted to see the ocean, who begged to see the ocean, who finally got to see the ocean. And then his head exploded.

See you tomorrow IVDP (even if I don't know who you are!) And maybe you too Beryl and Grace. Beth, I hope you are ready for your bon-voyage-newbie class on Sunday!



Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren!

Yes, I'm ready for Sunday, but I have to figure out what I'm going to do next?? Is there going to be another beginners class or do I have join a regular class where I'm afraid I won't be able to keep up?


yoga chickie said...

You can do either one! Or both! I think the workshop setting is so intimate an cozy, and you get to learn things you might not otherwise cover in an All Levels or even a Basics class. You can ask at the front desk if there will be another Sunday workshop soon. In the meantime, you will be fine in a regular class. Let the teacher know your concerns, and just stay with your own practice. Remember it's about you meeting your own edge, not about you reaching for someone else's edge. And remember also, that you your edge never really stops it is important to practice with mindfulness, playfulness and patience every time you step on the mat....

We will do a sort of "run through" on Sunday so you can get a taste of what a regular class will be like...


Anonymous said...

lauren, do you know the little booklet "suryanamaskara" by g.ji? maybe you already have it, but if not, its all about the sunsalutations and a nice little booklet to always carry with you,

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused - do you currently practice at Guy's AND Eddie's?

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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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