Sunday, March 26, 2006

An infusion of LOVE

is exactly the shot in the arm that my practice needed.

I went this morning to the first practice of the New York leg of Guruji's World Tour 2006. I was quite nervous beforehand that I would sleep through it or that I would wake up stiff and cranky and unable to get into any poses (Yeah, and so what if that happened, right? Right? No, I mean seriously...right?). So, ever the neurotic New Yorker, I set four different alarms - one at 4:45 a.m., one at 4:50 a.m., one at 4:55 a.m. and then I had my friends Beth (friend and student - I was her very first yoga teacher!) and Stacey (friend and fellow teacher-trainee from the Om days) call me at 5 a.m. to "confirm" that they were each walking down to my building to catch a lift with me to the (surprisingly swanky) Midtown Loft.

Turned out to be no sweat, because I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on my own anyway. And that was despite being woken up twice in the middle of the night by my two delightful, albeit puking, children (unfortunately, my house is currently doubling as a vomitorium). I guess I was kind of excited...

With all that time to spare, I took a luxurious hot bath (turned out to be my last for the day, as the boiler has since gone haywire and there is nothing but lukewarm, slightly brownish water!), stretched a bit, made some chai, drank some chai, stumbled down to the lobby of my building and picked up my much-more-morning-people friends and headed down to my building's garage. We found the attendant fast asleep, as most sane people are at 5:00 a.m., but once he (very dramatically) rubbed the sleep from his eyes, he pulled the SUV around. Out on the streets of the Upper East Side, it felt like we were the only ones awake for miles. That is, until we got to the corner of 29th Street and Fifth Avenue, where the sight of hordes of lanky people carrying yoga mats in the darkness made it immediately apparent that we had come to the right place.

Greeting us at the front-door check-in were the lovely and charming REW and Hockey Chick. When we got upstairs to the fourth floor, we were greeted by more familiar faces - several Shala X-mates who very kindly found Stacey and me nearby spots for our mats (Beth preferred to lay her mat nearer to the rear of the room).

Behind me were Christi from Colorado and her husband (Christi has given me, on behalf of my cousin, some tips on where to practice in Colorado Springs - um, at home!). Sir was there too, as was one of the Shala X-summer-subs, Gary. It was nice to see my once-teachers, Sarah and Jeffrey (who was a favorite teacher of mine at Jivamukti, and who now owns a studio somewhere down south) and Amie', one of the trainees from Shala X, whom I also knew from my days as a manager at Bikram. It was cool to see David Life and Matthew Darling and other "famous" yoga faces. Later on, I met Gregg and Chris and got some of the best chai I have ever tasted from the "chai walla" (a/k/a Spiros). I didn't see any Yoga Sutra folks (at least none whom I recognized) in the 6.a.m. session. But on my way out, I did see Christopher, Zoe and Kathy, as well as the Horse Trainer on their way into the 8.a.m session. Also ran into Joe, who used to take Mary-Beth's classes at New York Yoga and who now teaches a led class at the Martha Graham Dance Company on East 63rd, and Lisa, who used to take my classes at Some Like It Hot Yoga and is now a Baron Baptiste teacher.

OK, this is getting to sound a bit like the yoga version of Gawker Stalker, so I think it's time now to shift gears....

I have to say that I was a bit apprehensive about going today. I may seem like a sociable kind of girl, but in truth, large crowds can feel a bit intimidating to me, at least in an anticipatory-angst sort of way. But once I got there, the atmosphere was simply too warm and friendly for me to not get right into the swing of things. There was lots of chatting, lots of laughter, lots of wondering where the bikini girl was (if she WAS there, she was not wearing a bikini, but there WAS someone wearing what appeared to be opera length gloves...).

The practice, itself, was nice, if sort of beside the point.

We began with only four A's and four B's, and we were treated to only two versions of Paschimottanasana (A and D, skipping B and C). We did get treated to, count them, seven ("SAPTA!") Navasanas, however, as well as a couple of extra long "CHATWARI"'s and a couple of extra-extra long chatwari's. Uth-pluti was so long that I had to let go around the second time Guruji called out "seven" (strangely, he didn't harp on the number nine today), but I did pick myself back up again for the last little bit of it.

I was surprised and pleased to find that despite quick entries and exits, I was able to bind in all of the Marichyasanas (although only by the fingers in D). Unfortunately, because of the tight space, it was nearly impossible for me to bring my legs back into the Bakasana-transition out of Bhujapidasana or to get myself into a good position in Kurmasana. Not that that mattered. I knew it would be like that going in. Although I couldn't bind my hands in Supta K, I felt GREAT in garbha pindasana (no trouble getting my arms through! YAY!). On the other hand, again due to the space constraints, there was NO WAY that I could even consider doing the roll-arounds since to my immediate left was a wall with some spiky electrical stuff sticking out and to my right was one of my shala mates, her mat and mine touching (every mat was touching). For that matter, there was no way that I was going to even consider trying to bring my leg over to either side in Supta Hasta Padangusthasana (see: spiky electrical stuff and my shala mate's body, slender as it is). Nevertheless, I managed to do every Chakrasana, which I attribute to my being newly able to press up to clear my head from under me, rather than needing to find the room to execute a momentum-driven backward roll.

As for adjustments, I got one: Saraswati pushed my chest back in Padmasana - the second to last pose. I guess I was sitting with it lifted too high? To be honest, I didn't quite understand the adjustment. But that was fine. It was all good.

On the way out, we met Graeme Montgomery, the photographer and author of the incredibly gorgeous and heartfelt book, Mysore Style. He had been practicing next to Beth, who, it turned out, had planned on stopping at Navasana but was urged to continue by Sharath, who spent a great deal of one-on-one time with her, adjusting her, helping her modify, and simply teaching her the poses in the second half of the series. I almost cried to hear it told. Another near-damp-eye moment: when Beth kissed knelt and kissed Guruji's feet, he reached out and gave her a huge hug.

When I came home, I was hungry for more asana practice, so I practiced a bunch of inversions, delving into Pincha Mayurasana (forearm stand), partly because I wanted to see for myself if it is, in fact, a shoulder and chest "opener", as was discussed on the Ashtanga EZ Board. I still don't see it as an "opener" so much as REQUIRING openness. But hell, I just love being upside down, so who cares? Then, for a treat, The Husband helped me with backbending.

Then I fell fast asleep.

And now, here I love...with yoga...



Gregg Newsom said...

Wonderful to meet you today! ~Gregg

yoga chickie said...



Anonymous said...

Thanks Lauren! I woke-up at 4:30 again today. And while I thought about grabbing my mat and running down there again, I'm still very sore from yesterday!

It was an amazing experience!

rew said...

nice to meet you in person as well!

suziecolumbus said...

Yes, but did you meet El Senor and Rosebud?

Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

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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