Thursday, March 18, 2004

I've managed to set up a week in which I get to do mysore practice almost every day. Well, Tuesday through Friday anyway. Weird thing is, I don't remember setting it up when I did my schedule a few months ago. I must have though because I took portions of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as vacation. I took two hours of vacation off tomorrow so I could practice at 7:00 and get to work to start clinic at 10:20. Of course, as so often happens, when I manage to get a bundle of practices like this, my main teacher leaves town half way through it. Tim left for his Maui workshop and will be gone for the next ten days.

My practices so far have been all over the map. The first one on Tuesday was reasonably okay but nothing great. I remember spending a bit more effort than usual trying to be floaty with my jump backs during the Surya Namaskaras, trying to get closer to a jump back, etc. One high point was getting an assist in Utthita Hasta Padangustasana. I was able, with the assist, to get my leg fairly high on both sides. Not Trivikrmasana range but up there for me. I thought Tim kind of raised his eyebrows a bit as if to say, "Hey, better." Maybe not, I am somewhat prone to over reading that kind of thing. Wednesday's practice was mediocre. I just felt tired the whole time. I didn't sleep all that well the night before. It's getting warmer here. I kept waking up, either too hot with all the covers on me or too cold from taking them off. Lots of little things in practice were marginal. I couldn't hold the handstands after Navasana for more than a picosecond. I didn't get my feet crossed in Supta Kurmasana. I would have made it eventually but I ended up getting assisted into the pose. Still, I was having to grunt and groan to even get them close so I had definitely backtracked. Kapotasana was abysmal--only got my hands to my toenails. Worst of all, when I failed to keep my balance in Dwi Pada Sirsasana and my legs slid up from behind my head, Tim commented to my wife who was practicing next to me, "He's regressing. I may have to take a pose back from him." That whacky Tim. What a droll jokester. I did manage to stand up from my fourth backbend, though it was one of those where you end up catapulting forward towards the mats of the people who are set up in the middle of the room. I must have unknowingly over done it one of the backbends. Later in the day, the lumbar area of my back began to get increasingly sore. Today, the stiffness and soreness in the back totally screwed my practice up. Every up-dog sucked. It hurt to let my hips drop down. Purvottanasana and Setu Bandhasana were do-able but I wasn't into holding either of them for a normal five count. Kapotasana was likely my worst ever. I didn't want to do any of the usual prep routine that I go through. I waited until the teachers were all helping someone else so that they would hopefully not make it over to me in time to help me actually do the posture correctly. Unfortunately, they were quicker than I anticipated. I never even got to my toes, even with an assist from the teacher. I gave up on the normal exit from Kapotasana and just sank back to the mat. I did just three back bends then chakrasana'd and went straight to Pascimottanasana, no drop backs etc. I did have a better Dwi Pada though. I got into it by myself. I stayed in it. I balanced for a second or two at a time but never for long enough for it to actually count as a balance. I was also able to have my feet on the floor while in Yoga Nidrasana. Still, in balance, a downer of a practice. I'm glad Tim wasn't there to see it.

There was a guy across from me who was doing a nice third series. He looked familiar but only in the sense that I may have seen him somewhere once ever and I'm not even sure if I did at that. With most of our more advanced students out of town, he kind of stood out. When he was attempting Ganda Bherundasana, it seemed like everybody stopped to watch. It was a pose he couldn't quite do fully but made an admirable effort. He had asked for an assist from one of the teachers, which I'm sure made her a little nervous. One, he was older than the average student, with grey to white hair. Two, she had probably not done that adjustment on too many people. Three, she had probably never adjusted him in anything that dicey ever before. Lots of room for catastrophe in that pose. One interesting thing about practicing at a place like Tim's is that you get all kinds of folks that come through. You can't help but wonder about some of their stories. There's just not too many people doing third series that well. Of the ones that do, a tiny fraction are of this guy's generation. Most are young hardbodies. He was an older hardbody. Very admirable practice.

Some of the usual teachers have made their way back from India and from other travels. A couple of them will be moving away for good, one to Costa Rica and later to India and the other to Bozeman, MT. Flux, it's the normal state of affairs.

I decided, after attending my third teacher training course, to actually try and start doing some assisting in classes so that I don't forget what I had learned in Tulum. Given my day job, it's not likely I'll be moving into the yoga teacher profession any time soon, but I do think I can be a good teacher. I have always been reluctant to think about getting involved with assisting or teaching because I didn't think I had the background that you should have. I have an acceptable mid-second series practice. I go to class as regularly as is possible. I've been doing Ashtanga for almost four years now. I've been to three short seminars on teaching asana. Hardly first line stuff. I don't know how much you have to have behind you before you attempt to teach. The most awkward thing is sitting there in the back of the class, waiting to adjust people who I had been practicing next to the day before. I can feel the vibe from some of my peers, the "What's he think he's doing? He's one of us, he's not a teacher." We'll see how it goes. I think I have some value to add though. I teach every day in my normal job. It's always been a part of what I do. I'll have to find out if it's something I should do with regards to yoga. Much like in my practice, one difficulty for me will be getting opportunities to do it regularly. It's not something that should be done just every once in a while. The insight and touch necessary to do it well only come with regular practice.

Time to pop an evening motrin and get to bed. I've got one mysore class left in the week

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