For two straight months, 5 days a week, I have had the distinct honor of working with the same group, morning after morning, in a Mysore Asthanga setting.
If I’ve compared yoga to dating and relationships before (which I have) – working the Mysore room can surely be best described in way more intimate terms.
How much more intimate? Lets see …
The first week I worked the room, our interactions were a bit awkward. I heard a lot of things like, “you could go a bit further” or “actually, not so hard” or even, “not in the mood, today.”
But then we started to get to know each other, became more exclusive, and things got better from there. As we got closer (literally and figuratively), we moved into a familiar groove. Trust began to build, and within that trust – we started taking risks.
By the end, the
climaxes peaks we discovered were like the kind I never before imagined …
There are only a few other people in my life where I’ve shared this very deep kind of intimacy. And I can assure you, it was NOT in a yoga room.
Ok, lest we move down this slippery slope, let’s change the topic to a much safer Top 10 of lessons I’ve discovered these past two months:
- If you say it aloud, you increase the likelihood of it happening by 99%. This is true in everything from announcing that you will be at practice, float into bhujapidasana, lower into karandavasana,, switch to vegan, or bind in a marychi.
- I get a bit uncomfortable when anyone calls me, “their” teacher. And you will never hear me refer to anyone as “my student.” And yet, after these two months – this may be the closest you’ll get me to admit there’s something to all this teacher/student stuff. (Mostly for the reasons described above.)
- There’s no such thing as the Ashtanga Police. Because if there were, I’m quite sure I would’ve been busted at some point.
- There is no ONE correct method. Every body is different. There is no one right way to adjust, no one right way to teach, no one right way to practice. Hence why THIS method is so individualized and brilliant.
- This shit works. I say it’s the magic pants, but it’s not. You might think I’m just a brilliant teacher, but I’m not. It’s the practice. It works. It opens us up, makes us stronger, and keeps us healthy and humble.
- Everything you need to learn, begins in Sun Salutations. Is it your breath you’re looking for? (notice that I didn’t goof and say, “breathe” Sandy!) Trying to find a handstand? A bhanda? How about a backbend or a forward bend? Anything you are working on in the series begins at the beginning. Oh yeah. And chaturanga is a pose.
- Not everything is physical. Every obstacle is not a physical one – and every practice doesn’t have to be one either.
- Injuries are not obstacles. Actually, they’re inevitable. I’ve torn both my hamstrings (demoing postures I had no business demoing) and separated my shoulder (on a trapeze). And though I’d like to consider the cement wedged between my shoulder blades an injury, I believe this may be just my back … but each of these have presented me wonderful opportunities to get aware and creative in my practice, to develop underdeveloped parts of my body, and be a great resource for those who are in the midst of similar ails.
- The mat is like a laboratory. So I stole this from David Keil … but he’s right of course. It is good for us to experiment on our mat. I have seen people in the room get into postures in the most creative and at times, oddest, ways – yet it works. For them. And in the end, that’s all that matters.
- Practice is not an option. There was a time I might’ve complained that I just didn’t have the time to practice. I was wrong. We make time for what’s important. For two months now, I have gotten out of bed at 3:30 am for an early EARLY morning practice. And for two months, I’ve not missed one. I can’t actually say that was true before – but the tighter my schedule – the more committed I became to making sure I MADE time.
And if I were allowed to add a #11 – I would say I have learned I have the best friends in the world. Two in particular have gotten up with me every morning (well, almost every morning – right, Jen?) and saw to it that I was not alone in my commitment. I dedicate this post to them – and to all the students who trusted me enough to open their practices up to me these past two months. It’s been an honor.
I am better because of you.