November 21, 2012 § 12 Comments
I’ve started measuring the intensity of the practice based on the number of coconuts I inhale right after. Last week was a 1 coconut practice week. Intense, but manageably so, and warm, but not in a sweat-dripping kind of way. This week is a whole other story. I have started discovering sweat glands that I never knew existed, like under my forearms, for instance. By the Prasaritas, I’m practically raining, trying to maintain drishti while beads of sweat trickle into my eyes and my nostrils. Hardly the most comfortable of sensations. I’m usually a sweat hog at home, regardless of the season, but practicing here brings that title to a whole new level. Today was the second day in the row where I began wondering if I was going to make it through the full practice all the way to backbending. I’ve been plagued with a cough for two days now, after a couple of nights of restless sleep. My energy levels are low, the muscles are fatigued and the damp heat of the room makes it hard to take big deep breaths. But somehow I made it through, by taking it slow and doing 8 breaths instead of 5 in the seated postures. I’m starting to see the importance of really tuning into one’s energy levels and managing it wisely here.
Energy. It’s a word that crops up alot in conversations here, predominantly when talking about the practice room. The quiet, focused energy turns the room into a sort of a vritti deadzone, where your wandering mind is deprived of vritti-enhancing oxygen, making it easy to really tune into your breath, your energy and the power of this practice.
I’m still not quite sure if I like or dislike this place, and I don’t know if I’ll feel either way by the time I leave. But I do know that I like Sharath enough to respect what he’s doing for Ashtanga right now. I particularly appreciate how he doesn’t have a diva air about him at all, and the light-hearted way in which he takes down the ego a couple of notches. In conference last Sunday, somebody sought his view about students who practice Ashtanga two or three times a day, to which he replied, “Only crazy people do that”. In a practice like this where it’s too easy to get caught up in external markers of progress, his constant reminder that “yoga is a spiritual practice” is timely and absolutely essential.
Mysore is disappointing for folks who come here expecting to forge a strong student-teacher relationship with him, as measured by the number of adjustments at practice, or trying to see if he acknowledges you at all. On my first day here I met a girl practicing at Mysore Mandala in Lakshmipuram, who felt that she got better “value for money” there compared to KPJAYI, simply because of the smaller class size. There is logic in that. But I will also say that this logic, along with the expectation for receiving a certain level of attention from Sharath himself, is missing the whole point of coming here. There is immense value in practicing in a room packed with people who are strongly dedicated to this practice, turning up everyday to give it their all. And to have a teacher who creates and holds this space, allowing you to really delve into the practice and allow it to work, now that’s invaluable. And that’s why I’m here. For the practice, not for Sharath.
I just realized that my blog has spammed a couple of your blogrolls – sorry about that! Password has been changed, so no more hacks, hopefully.