Saturday, August 16, 2003

We're back from our yoga vacation to Mt. Shasta. It was a great week. I had hoped to be able to go back to that internet cafe a few more times so that I could post updates but the various activities of the days took up our time.

A typical day started with a short 30 minute pranayama session starting at 6:30 am, for those that wanted to do that. Pranayama was followed by asana practice, usually lasting about two hours. After some time for cleaning up, eating breakfast and resting a bit, there was a trip to a scenic spot somewhere in the Shasta area. These usually involved a short hike of a mile or so. In the evening, after everyone had returned from whatever they did that day, we would have a question and answer session in the yoga room for an hour or so. Then dinner, followed by conversation, hot tubbing, scrabble games, etc. We were usually in bed by 10 pm.

The pranayama sessions were kept, as Tim put it, "compassionate". The retentions were pretty short compared to his norm. The actual inhales and exhales were long enough though. Since a lot of the folks there hadn't previously done much pranayama, some said it was hard for them. By the end of the week, we had moved up to doing the exhales and inhales with retentions and the alternate nostril breathing sequences. Hardest part for me was the occasional fly that would buzz through and land on my hands or neck or something. After, distracting me, it would then flit over to the next person, then back to me, go away for a while, come back, etc. In a normal class, that much of a distraction would have done me in. Fortunately, the sessions were toned down enough that it was just distracting, not disturbing or disrupting.

Asana class varied each day. The workshop is set up to be focused on the second series. We did do led second series on Sunday and Tuesday. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we did Mysore style class. On Thursday, Tim gave a class that was geared toward bandha development. I had hoped we would do more full second series, but both times that we did it, I was hitting the wall, ability-wise and endurance-wise, around the Tittibhasana series. On the mysore class days, most folks did the second series. The more advanced yogis in the group would do the third series on those days. I did my usual mysore session, which is first series and the second series up through supta vajrasana. I didn't notice much effect from being at that altitude. It's not that high, somewhere around 3500 feet I think, but I remember feeling it the first few days last year when we did the first series workshop. The mysore days were the best practices for me. I haven't done full second series enough times yet to have any sense of rhythm. The mysore classes allow me the opportunity to pace things to my best advantage. It's a sequence that I've become increasingly comfortable with. I never felt as tired doing those postures as I did doing the full second series. I'll post in more detail later about the classes each day, we're a little worn out right now.

In attending a workshop like this, for better or worse, one has the opportunity to benchmark one's self against an array of experienced yogis. As one of the less experienced people in the room, I did nothing to impress, but fortunately I didn't embarrass myself either. Seeing everyone else being able to do so many postures so well is a highly energizing and motivating experience. Getting to know these folks and learning about their different paths of development helps reinforce the concept that, with due diligence and practice, many things will come.

I'm going to stop here. I want to get some sleep. I'm going to try and go to the 2nd series class tomorrow morning. I have no idea when my next shot at a full 2nd series class will come, so I'm going to take advantage of it while I can. It will be interesting to see how different it feels to do the class at sea level and in the usually warm studio here instead of the wood burning stove heated room in Shasta

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