Sunday was perhaps our busiest day since we got ourselves settled here.
We started off with led class at 430a. Our led time on Friday is 6a, but because Sunday also includes a led Intermediate class (more on that below), Sharath announces on Friday during the 6a class that the first x number of rows should come at 430a on Sunday. K has been in the first couple of rows each week. After announcing on Friday that the first two rows should come at 430 on Sunday, he must have seen K in the second row and me (E) in the third, b/c as everyone began to disburse he walked right up to me and said “You also come 430 Sunday. With your…girlfriend. I don’t want to separate you.” AWWwwwww…
Anyway, 430 is pretty d@mn early, but we made it, leaving the flat at 345. We were still in the last 1/3 to arrive, so we may need to bump it up even a bit more. The first round of students on any given day must wait outside the gates, huddled under the streetlights. It is not an inspiring sight. At best, the students look vacant, perhaps engrossed in an iPod, at worse some look downright morose. Soon enough the lights come in the shala and the “houseboy,” Prakash, opens the gates. No dragging at that point, it’s a barely-restrained crush through the doors to get a spot I must get a spot so I don’t end up stuck in the waiting area or even worse the locker room so I have to get a spot OH LORD I HAVE TO GET A SPOT HOW ABOUT RIGHT HERE!!!!
It’s a little stressful.
We were done with practice long before dawn and after the ceremonial milling around and consuming fresh coconuts we went back to the flat to clean up before the led Intermediate class.
A little background: each of the six Ashtanga sequences has a specific day of the week assigned to it. Strangely, the second series (Intermediate) starts the week on Sunday, and then Monday-third, Tuesday-fourth, Wednesday-fifth, Thursday-sixth, and Friday-first (Primary). Of course, this is mostly theory, as Sharath is almost certainly the only person in the world following this schedule in full. In the meantime, you do however many sequences you know on the appropriate day.
So, at the shala, there are a decent number of students working on the Intermediate series. Once they learn about the first third of it they attend the led Intermediate class on Sundays. It is a regular pastime for the other students to huddle in the waiting area and watch the led Intermediate class, usually with mixed feelings of envy, fascination, admiration, dread, and, if we can be honest, the occasional wave of schadenfreude.
We have watched led Intermediate classes on previous trips, but this was the biggest one: probably approaching 50 people. It is inspiring to see, and also sadistically fascinating to watch how Sharath works the room: different postures than Primary, obviously, but just as wicked. Rather than dragging out the count in Navasana, for example, here he instead makes everyone wait in chatvari before coming all the way down to the floor for the various prone backbends. Also, for any readers who have braved Kapotasana, which holds a special, black place in my heart, know that the count is brutally slow. So involved was I in watching that I forgot there is a Kapotasana B and gasped in empathy when it was called and counted.
Sunday is also the day for student conference. At 430 in the afternoon students—bearing enormous sunglasses and decked out in their floaty, elegant, scarved-n-shawled Sunday best—attend the optional time with Sharath, usually about an hour, which involves a little lecture/pep talk/admonition and questions. It is a far more casual vibe than any other time in the shala during the week. This week Sharath told some stories, vaguely answered a few questions and smiled while his 7-8 year-old daughter stole the show with a shortened version of the dance she’d just done for recital.
It is nice to be back to Mysore-style practices now (Tuesday). K has been given the next posture, Krounchasana. It looks like Sharath hands them out one per week at most, which would put K at about Ustrasana by the end of our time here. I have been working my a$$ off trying to catch the heels/ankles during backbending. Today, almost. Tomorrow, “is coming.” After my first real attempt at it on Monday, Saraswathi offered some sage advice: “No shake, you.” Take that to heart, dear reader.
In more local news, our landlord had some workers do some repairs to our shower, which was apparently leaking in his kitchen. “One hour work is there,” we were told. The hammer and chisel started at 530p and mercifully, finally, ended at 1030p. No power tools here, just breaking out the existing stone floor with pure strength and the putting down concrete. Concrete, BTW, involves three piles in the driveway: sand, gravel, and cement. They are eye-balled for proportion and mixed manually with a shovel/pick-thing. Add water, scoop a portion into a wide metal bowl, set the bowl on top of your head and walk it up the stairs to the job. Repeat for three hours and you’re good to go. Made us feel that our yoga practice was pretty lazy.
The whole community is a-buzz today over the unexpected, mandatory meeting for all students at the shala at 530p, which Sharath announced during practice this morning. Dare we hope for a pizza party?