Friday, January 06, 2006

Ashtanga Desert

Today I brought my friends D & D to Shala X for their first time. It was sooooo quiet - just them, me, and about five others. I hope Sir doesn't completely eliminate the second Mysore session due to low attendence, leaving me with nothing but the 6 a.m. option! Come on people...support the late shift!!

D & D, who also live on the Upper East Side, practice privately with Evan Perry, who seems to have cornered the market on Upper East Side Health Club Led Ashtanga classes (he even teaches The Husband at Sports Club/LA). D also practices a bit at Equinox. And D's husband finds himself having to go all the way to California (to Yoga is Youth in the Palo Alto area) to take Mysore classes. Just kidding. But sort of NOT kidding.

The Upper East Side is a veritable Ashtanga desert. There just isn't anything even remotely resembling an Ashtanga shala up there.

New York Yoga had a nice led program for a while with a teacher (MaryBeth), who was willing at times to change to a Mysore format if enough of the students in class seemed able to do so. Yoga Jivana existed for less than a year on East 63rd Street, offering some combination of Led and Mysore classes. But the trouble was that it was never clear exactly WHAT Jivana was offering, and their space was giant and cavernous and, empty. As a result, it was cold. Completely lacking in energy. There was a brief time when my sister-in-law and I half-jokingly, half-seriously considered the possibility of purchasing Yoga Jivana, finding an authorized Ashtanga teacher to run a real, unequivocal Mysore program in the mornings and offering vinyasa classes in the afternoons and evenings. But what the owners wanted was for us to pay them some criminally huge amount of money for their "business" (i.e., their start-up costs, their ongoing costs up until the date of sale and some ridiculously huge amount in respect of the goodwill associated with their name...), when in reality, the "business" consisted of nothing more than a lease and a list of 325 students. It was not to be.

Yoga Sutra is the closest shala to the Upper East Side. And everything else Asthanga is due South.

I can't complain too bitterly when there are students out there in STATES where there is no Ashtanga teacher, or in cities where Asthanga classes are more than an hours' drive away. But still, it's unfortunate that there is this Ashtanga void up here on the Upper East Side.

Practice was good today. I am noticing that I don't need to shower before practice anymore to loosen things up; I wake up now feeling comfortable and loose enough so that after a few Surya Namaskar A's, I'm ready to fly. Hope it lasts. I can't believe it is already Friday and that I have practiced six days in a row already! But I am glad it is Saturday tomorrow. It is time for a rest.

Basically, no poses caused me any problems today, Mari D is getting easier and deeper, and at no point in my practice did my Updogs become stiff. I did my usual R&D bridge pose before backbends, and added my new R&D gomukhasana arms under the back before lifting up in to Urdvha Dhanurasana. Three, nice, long ones. I told my Yoga For Breast Cancer Survivor students last night that THIS is the key to their opening up their chests, to losing the slouch. And I said it because I really believe it. For someone like me, binding in the Marichis helps open me up, and backbending just takes it a bit further. But for someone like my tall and lanky student, H, binding presents no challenge at all. So for someone like H, Urdvha Dhanurasana is going to be the key. She is going to have to press her chest up skyward if she wants to open things up around her chest, physically, around her heart, metaphorically.

So, with this as my current mindset on backbends, my new goal in backbends is to simply DO them. To lift up and DO it. Feet wide? Doesn't matter. Fingers pointing outward? Doesn't matter. What matters is opening my armpits, straightening my arms and holding for five full breaths. I can already feel things have shifted, loosened, softened.

I'm thinking about taking Sir's Philosophy and Pranayama class. It looks interesting. Now, I just have to work on getting the Husband on board with picking the kids up from Hebrew School on Sundays. It's harder than it sounds. You should have heard him balking at the idea of taking them to school on the next two Wednesdays so that I can (a) teach a 7 a.m. class at Yoga Sutra and (b) get my own practice started early...8 a.m.!!! This will cause said Husband to get to work at 9 a.m. Since Husband is a NYC lawyer, this should not be a problem - everyone knows that lawyer hours in NYC begin at 9:30 or even 10! But of course, it is....

Grrr...

YC

9 comments:

samasthiti said...

Yoga desert!
I would have to drive 6 hours south or 8 hours north to get to an authorized teacher...

You seem to make it there on a regular basis, if others were dedicated enough they would find a way to get there too. Perhaps the 2nd mysore class that you are hoping doesn't get cancelled due to low turnout.

Less complaining more yoga!

yoga chickie said...

Too true, too true....

I wish that someone authorized would move to your neck of the woods...It COULD happen, right?

Lauren

samasthiti said...

Doubtful!
I am moving to one hopefully this summer though.
Tell you the truth my favorite ashtanga teacher isn't certified or authorized! GASP! He studied with Guruji for 6 months and was Tim Miller's first "aprentice", and was with Richard Freeman for 7 years. He is the embodiment of the practice.

But I'll just take what I have right now! It's working.

yoga chickie said...

He sounds pretty damn qualified, even if he is not OFFICIALLY authorized. So, maybe he didn't ring all the bells and whistles to get "authorized" - sounds like he has PLENTY of training. Freeman for 7 years? Tim Miller's apprentice? 6 months with Guruji? What's not to like about that?

samasthiti said...

NOTHING!
But that's in Seattle, in Portland I don't know who to study with...

Anonymous said...

No worries about cancelling the 2nd shift. Fridays are always slow b/c Sir doesn't teach...

Anonymous said...

eddie is not "certified" ...

yoga chickie said...

Not sure how that is relevant to the discussion. Care to elaborate?

Lauren

Anonymous said...

someone above discussed how her teacher in seattle is not "certified," and i thought i'd point out that plenty of very well known and well regarded ashtanga teachers are not "certified."

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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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