Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Only Day Two

Sri Pattabhi Jois and Sharath - photo by Stephan Crasneanscki

Ten observations from the ashtanga workshop with Sharath Jois.

1. Riding the #7 train at 5:15 am means butting into the world of back of the house staff in Manhattan restaurants. The cars are packed with men, mostly Latino, heading to their restaurant jobs. Being nearly the only woman, and usually the only white woman and definitely the only white woman with yoga mat is a little uncomfortable in the way when you butt into someone else's world, especially when carrying a yoga mat.

2. Ashtanga yoga can be a bit of a scene.

3. I don't like scenes.

4. Sharath offers next to no instruction so participating in the led class is almost exactly like listening to his DVD.

5. Despite this, I still pushed myself so much on the first day that I wondered if I had anything left in me to actually make it to the subway and get home.

6. I did.

7. For some asana, it is better to wait until he begins the breath count before entering the pose. For example, the very last asana - uplutih, which is when one comes into padmasana (lotus pose) and then lifts up with the hands under the thighs so the body is off the floor, engaging bandhas so that the knees are working towards the chest. Yesterday I got right up there and did my traditional ten breaths and then I hear Sharath saying, "......one........................................two........................"

8. The only time he caught my eye was when I was collapsing out of uplutih around (his count of) five.

9. My new year's resolution asana are still a mixed bag. Bhujapindasana is going fairly well but my sirsasana is not yet ready for prime time. Notice the ego churning up dust as I pretty much have to sit that one out.

10. Savasana never felt so good.


Nathan said...

I have almost no experience with the Ashtanga series. A few of the instructors in our teacher training program have that background, but so far, I have found the slight differences in postures confusing - and the breath work isn't something I'm used to either.

Robyn said...

Yes, it can seem very strange and conflicting with other traditions. It may be one of those things that you either love or you just don't get what the fuss is all about.

For me, all the rules and constraints remind me of things like liturgy and service positions in Zen. A hundred million little details to master so that you can forget them completely and just concentrate on being present in the moment. Also, the vigorous practice offers ample opportunity for getting attached to all sorts of ideas about ourselves and missing the point entirely. When that happens, it usually results in injury, so careful attention is required.

What can I say? I really, really love the what the practice offers.

Lela said...

My current yoga teacher's been going to the session, too. This morning she relayed Sharath's advice for headstand: "Don't fall over!"

bookbird said...

i love your blog - I just found it! I dont know anything about yoga but I like your writing. It's quirky. Plus, i am a knitter too! I am a knitter in training - but baby, I'm heading for the fair isle one of these days :)

Robyn said...

Haha Lela - yes Sharath's great headstand instruction. I will try to remember it always.

Robyn said...

Hi Bookbird! Thanks for checking out my blog. Hope to see you around again.