This weekend found me in the Los Angeles area. I drove down to Palos Verdes Estates Thursday night, then woke up bright and early on Friday for Mysore practice in Brentwood. I saw two of my fellow Encinitas teacher trainees, practiced next to one and in front of the other. Lovely to see familiar faces! The instructor gave the strongest adjustments I’ve ever received, next to Guruji, I suppose. I have to admit, I was pretty fearful after the first adjustment I received in Prasarita Padottanasana C. I hadn’t even had a chance to introduce myself and I was pounced upon. He would just barely push past my comfort zone, and just as I would tense up, he would remind me, “Breathe,” and the fear was gone and the body complied. I discussed this with one of his students after practice. For the force of the adjustments, it seems there are very few injuries among the students.
I had emailed M (one of the teacher trainees) ahead of time, and we had discussed meeting at the shala between 6:30 and 6:45, and then grabbing “tea” after practice. (I had to clarify with him first that “tea” would include my mandatory post practice C’s: Calories and caffeine, croissants optional. He confirmed.) I think he arrived somewhere around 7:15… I was nearing Marichiasana A when he walked in the door, so I slowed things down big time. I realized that my “slow” was everyone else’s “normal,” or so it seemed. I looked around to see if everyone took Friday’s traditionally, meaning Primary Only… I always do on my own, but since M was so behind, my second series poses would have evened our practice times and we would have finished around the same time. I whispered that question to my neighbor, the other TT friend. “It’s pretty traditional, but you could get away with some second stuff if you felt like it.” I considered it for a moment, then decided it would be disrespectful to the instructor. Not something I strive for. I did notice that handstands and viparita chakrasana were taught, so I spent some extra time in my backbend sequence. I must have dropped back 6 or 7 times before viparita chakrasana, and for the first time since July, my lower and mid back felt fine. None of the stuck spots protested. Hands to ankles without any drama. I keep trying to figure out how to “crawl” my fingers up my ankles to my calves on my own. It seems like it should be so easy in retrospect, but in the midst of the back bend, my hands are just cemented to my ankles. Olaf makes it look easy, anyways. But he makes everything look easy.
On Sunday, I met M and his girl at YogaWorks for a flow class, since it was a moonday. Led vinyasa classes never feel like yoga to me, I can’t focus fully on my breath, I can’t go internal… I’m spending too much time looking up at the teacher to see if I’m doing things correctly, trying to hone in on her directions instead of honing in on my breath and going within. So it wasn’t yoga, it was gymnastics. But fun gymnastics, nonetheless. Vishwamitrasana and variations, Koundinyasana B, Handstand to Bakasana (whee!), Handstand push-ups and variations, I don’t know what else. In backbends, the instructor asked me (by name) to demonstrate Viparita Chakrasana, which took me by surprise. I didn’t even know she knew my name. Someone must have told her that I could do it, maybe one of the ladies that was in Mysore practice on Friday. It was a little nerve racking to be put on the spot like that in front of 30 other students, and I hadn’t done any dropbacks so I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off or not, but I did. Miracle of miracles.
A quick cup of coffee with M and a few others from class before hitting the road… I love the global community of ashtangi friends I’ve met through this blog and through the teacher training. It is a small little world in so many ways, and the kind people I’ve met warm my heart every time I think of them.
This morning, I was back to my very quiet practice in my little room. Stiff from all the driving, but very happy to be there.