The Vortex

November 15, 2012 § 13 Comments

Marked my first week here with a led class this morning, which was not the best way to end a week/start a new one. Arriving 30 minutes before our start time, there was already a big group gathered on the steps, tightly packed, half-awake, all holding onto their mats in anticipation of the start. Before today I had heard stories about “the rush” for a spot for Friday’s classes, so I was somewhat prepared, but not enough apparently. The moment the 430 class did their closing chant, it just took one person to stand up before the contagion of anxiety began. You could feel the thoughts: “I want to get my practice spot”, “I want to get there first“, manifest in the body language. The hustling and rubbing of shoulders. The fake ignorance that you just elbowed someone with your yoga mat just to gain half an inch of space so that you can step into the room a millisecond before the person next to you in order to claim a “prized spot” for your beloved practice.

The transition – from the stairs to the room – was enough to put me off before the practice even started. I wanted to walk out, during the first Sun Salutations, I just didn’t want to be there. I hate the hustle, the blatant inconsideration and selfishness on display, and the vortex of “me first” energy that infects everyone and sucks you into it, defenceless. It’s a bloody epidemic of self-interest and makes the whole practice a joke after you’ve seen behavior like that.

I came out of the room vowing to spend Fridays practicing in my room, but after recuperating with a coconut, a chai and a lovely breakfast, I’ve decided to give this another chance. I will practice resisting the vortex next Friday. I will not get swept up into it, and I will let the hordes of picky practice spot Ashtangis pass me by. We’ll see if I’m capable of pulling it off, because it’s a lot harder than going through the Primary Series on Sharath’s count. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to set that intention.

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§ 13 Responses to The Vortex

  • ahh, the dreaded led class rush! I was similarly nervous before my first experience of it, and hated the incongruity of it, but I adopted the attitude that I really *genuinely* didn’t mind practicing in the bathroom every week (and actually I never did), so i stood back a little, got bumped around a bit, but managed not to get too angry with it…and the joy of Sharath’s sweet count (and a moment of perfect peace in urdhva padmasana) managed to erase it for me, so give it a try and perhaps next time you will feel less affected by the silliness of the steps. Enjoying catching up with your experiences D!

    • D says:

      Yes, that’s a good attitude to have, and one I plan to adopt as well. I actually have my eye on the foyer – more air and he doesn’t supervise those parts as much, but you’re right, the key is in standing back a little and let the real Type A Ashtangis go for it 😉

      It was fun to hear Sharath-isms today: “eeeeeeeyyyyaight”!

  • globie says:

    Sunday led shouldnt be quite so bad with a room full doing intermediate later. I found it was as you described to start with, but it settled down and didnt feel like a scrum. I remember one girl who I mentally nicknamed “the worm”, for her ability to be at the back of the queue, but every day she managed to worm her way through the throng and be at the top of the steps before I had jettisoned my sandals. Keep with it cos Sharath will definitely notice if you bunk off!

    • D says:

      The worm! HA! That’s a good one. I didn’t think about the fact that he’d notice me bunking off, so thanks for reminding me. Wouldn’t want to be called out when turning up for self-practice.

      • globie says:

        There may be hundreds of people there, but believe me Sharath doesn’t miss a thing, he would certainly notice your absence from led.

        Despite the volume of people I managed to practice in the main room for every led, one girl used to practice in the upstairs part of the ladies changing room, so if you want to have a lazy practice that’s the place!

  • Nobel says:

    What you describe sounds like the yoga equivalent of a peak-hour rush/traffic jam. And in rush-hour traffic, as you know, it is very difficult (but not impossible) not to feel like the person who just rudely cut you off in order to gain a little bit of space has something against you; well, he doesn’t. It’s just something that humans tend to do when in such situations.

    So, although I have never been in the situation that you describe, I have a feeling that the solution, as with rush-hour traffic, lies in just letting go of the need to feel that people are slighting you. And it’s probably easier to do this if you don’t have a favorite spot that you definitely must have. 🙂

    But seriously, now I’m getting curious: Are there really “better” spots in the shala? I mean, short of finding yourself on the stage (which I personally would want to avoid if I can help it; don’t want the whole world to see me dancing in UHP…), I would think that any other spot in the shala is as good/bad as any other spot. I mean, so long as you can hear Sharath’s voice and know what posture is being called out, where you are shouldn’t matter, right? At least, this is the impression I get from watching videos of the shala. Am I right?

    • D says:

      It’s EXACTLY the yoga equivalent of a rush hour!!

      The thing that irked me the most on Friday wasn’t that I felt like I was being slighted – it was a couple of things: (1) the agitation that came with feeling like I had to hustle too, or lose out (being kiasu!!), (2) the level of inconsiderate behavior on display, (3) having a practice spot right by the door with frantic yogis walking all over me and my mat just as I’m trying to get settled. All in all, it was just a very agitated start to practice and I got swept up in it.

      Whether a practice spot is deemed “good” or “bad” is entirely a matter of personal preference. There are some areas in the room where your mat covers the part where two mysore rugs overlap, making for an uneven surface, and that’s what most people want to avoid….but I practiced over such a spot on Friday and it wasn’t as bad as expected. The fact is, one spot is as good as any in that room (even if you’re on the ‘stage’) but people have their preferences and attachments to their practice locations, which is understandable, but still doesn’t justify a**hole behavior in order to get what you want.

  • Anne Bain says:

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s down right depressing- a feeling of “haven’t they learned anything”. Ironically, I’m in NYC and the manners on the rush hour subway are better.

    • D says:

      Perhaps it’s also because NYC commuters are not as excited to get to work as these Ashtangis are to practice with Sharath! 😉

      Hope NYC is treating you well!

  • Karen says:

    When I read about Mysore I was horrified by the thought of the stage, so of course I ended up there a whole bunch of times. I actually rather liked it, because you can only fit six people up there, so there’s a limit to how crushed in you can be. And honestly, I was so busy with my practice (& I think everyone else was with theirs) that no one is really on display.

  • I’ve read a number of accounts about the frantic Friday rush and it sounds like a stressful experience, definitely not how you might picture starting an early morning yoga class. I’ve always found the “must-have spot” phenomenon strange in the sense that it is definitely fostering attachment.

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