November 14, 2012 § 8 Comments
First Shala practice today, a couple of days later than planned thanks to ladies holiday arriving on Sunday. I have a very respectable start time of 8:30am, same as my flatmate, Joanna, so I had a little ‘guide’ to help me along this morning. Where to wait, how long to wait, what the ‘system’ is, etc. Walked into the foyer filled with about 10 to 12 waiting yogis for the 8:15 slot, we found a corner to settle into and waited to be called. As is the case for me before any practice in a brand new place, I was a little anxious about how things were going to go. Will I get a good spot? Was Sharath going to stop me mid-way? Was my practice going to be “good enough”? Will I last through the Primary Series? and suchlike. Added to that the fact that everyone here looks as if they just stepped out of a Sports Illustrated cover, and it was all too easy for me to start feeling really self-conscious like a new kid at school.
And then it began. With the next “one more” I stepped into the room and waited until my practice-spot-to-be freed up. It was a little disorienting, to step into that room of about….60? 70? people all at different stages of their practice. Some standing, some sitting, some handstanding, some backbending. The dynamism of the human body on display. I managed to get a decent 10 inches (thereabouts) on either side of my mat, laid down my towel and tried to quel the nerves as I began. I realized that I had been anticipating this moment for so long that when the time came to begin, it felt practically momentous. The first Sun Salutation brought me back from the thinking to the doing, drawing me back into the familiarity of moving my body through the postures I’ve been doing for the past three years. It’s funny but the practice has reached a stage where the sequence feels as if it’s embedded in me. No thinking, just doing. Before I knew it, it was time for the seated postures. Then, Navasana. And then, Garbha Pindasana. And then, backbending.
“Where you stop?” asked Sharath, as I prepared for Urdhva Dhanurasana.
“Ok” (head wobble that says ‘carry on’).
After three surprisingly light and open Urdhva Dhanurasanas I decided to pass on the dropbacks for today since it had been more than a week since I last practiced. But Sharath was having none of it.
“You stand up,” he said, as he readied to assist another girl with backbending, while his assistant appeared practically on cue. No running away from this one. Did three half-drops and got a spectacular assist with the full dropback that enabled a pain-free transition to standing. And then, it was over.
For the first practice in eight days, with travel and ladies holiday in the mix, this was a pretty decent session – back home I would usually be greeted with a creaky and stiff body, and a need to ‘take it easy’ so as not to injure myself. But it was different here. There’s alchemy at work in this room, a combination of the heat and the quiet, focused energy of the room that makes it an ideal environment to really dig in and let the practice work its magic on you. I like.