Friday, November 18, 2005

Excitement at Shala X!!

I am guessing that I am probably in the minority of folks who enjoy it when a guest teacher comes aboard at the shala. To me, it kind of shakes up the energy. It gives me a chance to have someone see my practice anew - not with ideas of what my practice is, based on where it started. I love having Sir as my teacher, don't get me wrong. But it was fun to meet his new assistant today. Ah, what shall I call him? Perhaps his name will do?

Patrick has an accent that I cannot identify. At first, it seems English or Welsh, perhaps. Then it seems to veer off into something vaguely Eastern. He has dark skin, almost Indian looking skin. But his hair is lighter brown than mine. He wears it in a smooth little bun. Patrick is, in a word, adorable. When I came into the shala today, I was actually...ON TIME. A first for me, in a long while. It's easy to be on time on Fridays, since there is Philosophy and Pranayama until just past 9:30 a.m. So, if I come in at 9:30, then the shala isn't even really ready for anyone to begin their practice. But I digress.

Patrick was standing in the vestibule, grinning and welcoming people into the shala. When he saw my cuppa (joe, not chai), his grin lit up a bit slyly, and without a word, I was dropping the rest of it into the garbage bin. "I'm only drinking it because it's so cold out, and I need to get my organs warmed up," I protested, kind of embarassed, kind of laughing at myself. Patrick went and turned up the thermostat. I LIKE a yoga teacher who makes friends with the radiator!

So, for once, I began my practice at the same time as most everyone else, give or take a Surya Namaskar or two. I was even present for the invocation, which Patrick led in a huge booming voice and a tune that I neither recognized nor could carry. Oh well. It's just's not a concert. For my sixth day of practice in a row (yes, sixth...Yoga Chickie did not observe the moonday this time around because she had observed her own private moonday last Friday, out of sheer exhaustion and just wanted to really kick it up this week and took Erika Hildebrandt's Half Led Primary on Tuesday, which ROCKED....sorry all you traditionalists....), I was surprisingly energetic and agile. I smoothly progressed from posture to posture, occasionally sliding my feet through at the end of a vinyasa here, a vinyasa there (as I have been doing lately...I would say my rate is 20% at this point).

By the time I got to the Marichyasanas, Patrick was helping out a bunch of other people who were in the middle of their Marichyasanas as well. So, I got no assists at all in Mari A or Mari B.

When it came time for Mari C, I figured that any minute now Patrick would be all over my binding-impaired ass. But I bound on the first side....and I held it for a looooooong time, figuring, "Any minute now...he'll be here any minute now...."

Patrick looked over. And then he went on to assist someone else in another pose. So, I vinyasa-ed my way to the other side, bound that and held it. Again, I figured any minute he would be coming round, saying, "OK, let's do the first side again...."

But it never happened. A minute later, I was on my back, preparing for backbends. Patrick came over to my mat and asked me, "Is that all for today?"


And to that I say, "WOOOOHOOO!!!" By which I mean, I must have looked as if I COULD have been further along in the Primary which I mean, my Mari C must not look mangled and tortured anymore, or to paraphrase the Yoga Sutras, I must not have looked all bothered by the "play of opposites". At the very least, there must have been a lack of prana leak...

But since I often note that students tend to guess what their teachers are thinking, perhaps guessing wrong, I decided to get some clarity. After savasana, I asked Patrick if my Mari C looked alright. "See, usually, someone runs right up to me and adjusts me into it," I offered by way of explanation, "And since you didn't, I was hoping that it looked like I could handle it on my own...."

"Your Mari C looked fine to me," Patrick responded nicely, if not a bit bemused.

And now, happily, I get a day off. I made it through six days of practice in a row, probably for the first time since my surgery (and by practice, I mean at a shala, as opposed to putzing around at home in and after a bath), I feel good, and I am ready to take a one-day break.

I wonder when I will begin work on Mari D at Shala X, not that it MATTERS. I am binding in it with Erika during led class, sometimes with help, sometimes not. But frankly, it would be nice to REALLY be ready for the next pose by having all of the prior poses mastered. And in order for that to happen, my Parivritta Parsvakonasana still needs work. I think that when I really can get my palm comfortably to the ground in that twist, Mari D will be right around the bend (assuming my healthy happy hips continue to be as such).



roy said...

Is it the need to please others that primarlily motivates yoga chickie?

Or is it some other authority-based complex that drives her???

From time-to-time I have found her to be tremendously insightful and touching and the opposite end of the self absorbed and pedestrian in her views as to be an embarrassment to asana practice and yoga itself.

Lauren, if there's that much going on indside your head during a class, or during your practice, the process is not nearly internal enough to be considered yoga.

What is she thinking???

I wouldn't even consider posting this, unless I knew how much she seems to love to stir it up and have the internet-at-large talk about her.

May all beings be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow, and may they also know bliss, and the causes of bliss...

geri s. said...

I actually agree somewhat with the previous poster. I'm really glad you are so enthusiastic about Ashtanga and Yoga in particular. The Ashtanga practice needs as many cheerleaders as it can get. But honestly eventhough you say it does not matter about getting to Mari D. I actually think it matters a ton to you because from what I have seen from your previous posts you are so attached to progression; not a total slight as most ashtangi's are. But it seems you are constantly in your head about it and I think it gives novice practitioners the wrong impression about the purpose of any yoga practice.

I am a yoga teacher as well(25 years and still going!) and you and I both know there are people out there spreading the "yoga gospels:)" without really knowing what it's about. Honestly sometimes after reading your posts I think you are one of them. Please try to be concious or atleast find more people that you can talk to in person about your issues, you might find this more helpful than using your blog as a computerized therapist.

But please keep practicing, i really do hope it brings you the clarity you are so doggedly searching for.

please be well. Namaste.

yoga chickie said...

I hear you both and can see the contradictions which you see. I am not driven by any one single motivation - not to please others, not to please my ego. Both come into play. I am human. I live in the real world. I need to please others in order to survive - to stay in relationships, to stay employed. i need to please my ego sometimes too. I need to see progression in my yoga practice. so be it. i admit it. i offer it here, more for me than for anyone else. i allow others to read it if it gives them any kind of pleasure to do so. pleasure comes in many forms - satisfaction of curiosity, for example, stirring up ones' aggression, for example. or pleasure can be simple and undefinable. whatever it is, if you are reading this, then it brings you some sort of pleasure. and if this is the last thing you read on here, then it no longer brings you pleasure. it's elementary.

I can't define myself as a perfect yogi, but if only perfect yogis could be teachers, then there would be very few teachers. If there were very few teachers, very few students would get the benefits of yoga.

My personal experience has been that it does NOT take a wonderfully gifted YOGI to take a student to a yogic place. My first true yogic experiences were in Bikram classes, where there is NO dharma, and the focus is on the external pose. Yet in that context, I found pure calm, meditation and a touch of bliss.

Nor am I saying that I am NOT a "good yogini" or a "good teacher". I am simply saying that the bar can be quite low, and still the students will benefit. In my case, if I thought I were a lousy teacher, I would not be able to continue teaching. And that makes sense right, given my desire to please and my desire to be good at what I do, right?

I never pretend to my students that I am above them in terms of my own practice, and I go out of my way to tell them that at times, i am exactly as drama-filled, ego-driven and type-a as they may be, at times. what makes them keep coming back is that they can empathize with me, and me with them, and they know they can grow in my classes because i encourage them to do what i do: to move to the very very edge of their edge.

plus, i am fairly scholarly, and i read voraciously. and i bring that stuff into my classes. whether or not i have reached "samadhi" or reach it on a regular basis is not important to the students who attend my classes. what is important to them is that i give them a bit of the knowledge that i have gleaned and they get to take it with them off the mat.

not every teacher is for every student. if you wish to have a teacher who you can put on a pedestal in terms of his accomplishments as an "internal" yogi, and one who has no ego-identification or monkey-mind to spew forth on a blog, well, then you wouldn't find me acceptable as a teacher. if you wish to have a teacher who tells it like it is in real time, then you might like my classes.

thanks for you input.



Anonymous said...

this is one of your classic blog comment answers, full of nice personal "pats on the back". why would you even answer these comments? It's a total waste of your time.

You are doing the best you can, and if it's good enough for you, don't worry about answering people who don't really get it.

100 years from today it won't really matter anyway.

yoga chickie said... so so got that one dead on. i guess i enjoy writing or i wouldn't be spending my time doing it.


Anonymous said...


you totally didn't understand my comment( 100 years from today etc). I was not offering any complimentary commentary on your writing skills. Quite the opposite I'm afraid.
But good luck anyhoo. Not everyone has the courgae to put thier thoughts out there for all of the web public to see.

you will always have people who disagree with you and you will always find people whom you disagree with. Nothing wrong with either.

yoga chickie said...

Yeah, well, I took it as neither a compliment NOR a dis. I was simply stating that I write for the sheer pleasure of it. NOT to please others.

But hey, thanks for clarifying your insult. I'm sure that I and others will benefit from knowing that it was "quite the opposite in fact".

Practice what you preach, hon. And if you don't know what I am talking about, read the Sutras.

Anonymous said...

why are you so nasty to people that comment on things you choose to write and put out there for people to agree or disagree? If you don't like comments you can disengage that from your blog you know. If you asked me it's YOU who might need to reread the yoga sutras. And that wasn't an insult it was a suggestion.

stooping to others lowness doesn't shine very brightly on you my dear.

Anonymous said...



yoga chickie said...

I wrote and I wrote and then I deleted and deleted because everything I want to say to you boils down to two words: Thank you.


Anonymous said...

His name is Petri and he's from Finland.

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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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