Thursday, July 21, 2005

Warning: A Grumpy Lady Has Taken Over My Keyboard

Went to Eddie's today for Puja but missed it because I was so late - stayed on the sofa all morning because I wasn't feeling well today - very very sore in my lats and generally fatigued and loguey. I finally met IVDP, which was really fun. She was very sweet to me. Other than that, no one else much seemed to notice that I was there, except Chris, who gave me a nice cup of sweet milk, which I quickly and cloddishly spilled half of. Spaz.

I introduced myself to a couple of people, including Jenny Meyer, from Yoga Sutra, but mostly I felt kind of out of a real wallflower. I didn't even get to say hello to Sarah or to Lori, Guy's wife. From a social standpoint, it is a bit easier for me at Guy's because Jose (one of the assistants), consistently makes a huge effort to introduce everyone to everyone else and to get people together socially - for brunch or whatever.

I payed my respects to Ganesha, tasted a vegan cupcake, chatted with IVDP and then walked around Soho, got myself a manicure and a back-rub, walked around Soho some more and then ambled over to the Lower East Side, all in an effort to try to get the blood circulating so that I will feel better for practicing tomorrow.

Then I checked my email, and I saw two comments were logged into this Blog regarding my "splitting my time" between the two shalas. The first one seemed innocuous enough (asking me to clarify - do I really practice at both), yet there was an edge of aggression. The second one was (is) overtly aggressive - telling me that if either Guy or Eddie knew I was practicing at both places, I would be "shown the door" or something like that.

Since I invite and welcome comments to this Blog, I can't much complain about getting a comment that is critical of what I wrote (or even how I wrote it). However, I do feel sad and a bit misunderstood, and a part of me feels persecuted for having a family and other obligations that make it impossible for me to stick to one practice time and one practice space.

See, it all boils down to this: I wish to have a six-day-a-week-practice. However, I have children and other obligations that circumscribe my ability to practice at one particular time that fits into one particular shala's schedule. Thus, in order to maintain a six-day-a-week practice, I practice where I can and when I can.

And that should be enough of an explanation. But since I am feeling cranky and tired, I feel like going into a bit of detail about what it is like to structure a six-day-a-week Ashtanga practice when you are ME, Lauren Cahn, breast cancer survivor, mother of two and yoga teacher who lives on the Upper East Side.


Even without brandishing the Breast Cancer Card, it would be enough for me to say that I have two school-age little boys and all of the obligations that go along with having two school-age boys. On an every-single-weekday basis, I am solely responsible for getting my boys up in the morning and dressed and ready for school/camp and getting them TO school or the camp bus, which cannot happen before 8:30 or so. On many days, there are the parties at school, show and tell, visiting days at camp and obligations to help out at a bake sale or a school trip, etc. I suppose I could throw all of that on my husband so that I could get to 6:00 a.m. Mysore practice at one shala every day, but then my husband would not be able to get to his office on time, and my kids would be miffed to never have me around in the mornings.

As a result, I am 100 percent NOT able to go anywhere until 8:30 a.m. at the earliest, and then since I live on the Upper East Side, I need to add a half an hour of travel time. Thus, I am unable to begin my practice until 9 a.m. at the earliest, any day of the week, ever. Period. Thus, the choice is 9 at Guy's or 11 at Eddie's. Seems easy enough, right? But then....


Besides my children, my teaching of yoga is my biggest priority. I adore teaching yoga. I adore bringing yoga to as many people as possible. I am well-trained, and I am a compassionate and intelligent teacher. I have several regular gigs, but often, I am called upon to fill in for other teachers, particularly in the mornings. When I teach a class that begins at 9:15, I obviously cannot practice at Guy's that day at 9 (and I cannot practice at either Guy's OR Eddie's at 6:30 a.m. for the reasons outlined in "1. I AM THE MOTHER OF TWO SCHOOL-AGE BOYS:".

So, what should I do? Not practice? Or go to the 11:00 a.m. at Eddie's? Conversely, on the days when I cannot practice at 11:00 a.m. because of my other obligations, should I not practice at Guy's?

I would love to choose ONE shala and stay there with ONE teacher, as Ashtanga die-hards seem to believe is of paramount importance. Which begs the question...what happens when or Guy or Eddie goes out of town for extended periods? Do you stop practicing? Or do you practice with whatever teacher is at the shala? It looked like a LOT of people were perfectly fine with having Mark be their teacher when Guy was away. Is that wrong?

Finally, I should mention that Sarah knows that I practice at Guy's when I am not at Eddie's. And on Tuesday, when I commented to her that I hoped that I could spend more time practicing with her going forward, she said, "Seems like you've been coming here more regularly as it is." Guy knows I practice at Eddie's when I am not at Guy's; in fact, my first time at Guy's, I told him specifically that I was there because I was unable to practice at Eddie's that day. He didn't exactly kick me out; rather he welcomed me in.

And p.s...I also practice with Mary-Beth Garutti at New York Yoga because she is a wonderful, compassionate, all-inclusive, insightful teacher. Should I deprive myself of that experience, of her teachings, in order to be "monogamous" with one teacher (one of my commentators tells me that SKJP likens splitting one's time to having multiple spouses; but I ask, how can anyone have Guruji as a teacher for a month or two months or three, and also have a teacher in the states without violating this anti-splitting rule?)?

So, there you have it. If you are lucky enough to have a schedule that allows you to practice at the same time every day, then you can practice with one teacher all the time. If you're me, then that's just not in the cards at the moment.




Anonymous said...

I could not sit through and read your whole list of reasons why you choose to split your practice, but I agree with the original commentator - try it. Tell Guy you practice at Eddie's and tell Eddie you're at Guy's... See what happens...

"Only one teacher...if a man takes two wives, then that man is dead!" SKPJ

This is pretty much the backbone of ashtanga. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

yoga chickie said...

So then why would anyone go to Mysore...aren't they just passing through? Are they not cheating on their American teachers? Are they not "using" Sharath and SKPJ for a time and then blowing them off? I don't get it. It's just not logical.


suziecolumbus said...

Lauren: I am also a mother, a lawyer, and an ashtangi who struggles to practice 5 times a week at different times and different studios, with different teachers. May I say, you rock. I enjoy your posts as "YogaChickie." Don't let the Ashtanga Police wear you down.

yoga chickie said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you thank you, Suzie...I think you rock for saying so!....Res Ipsa Loquitor-this crap is absurd...Lauren

Anonymous said...

As with most thing on the internet, you open yourself up to all types of people, I would take it like that.

If splitting yourself between the two places helps you to maintain your practice, then I would think that helps your overall spirituality. The concept of ONLY going one place is why sometimes yoga teachers are likened to cults.

yoga chickie said...

thanks....i have had that thought myself, but it's one i try not to dwell on....Lauren

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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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