We are already creeping up in start time in the morning. A large number of students had their last practice day on Tuesday, so we showed up pretty early on Wednesday and were not only called in earlier than our 830 practice time, but were also told to come at 800 the following day. We will continue to come early; making ourselves available for “bumping up” in practice time is key. We’d love to practice as early as possible, mostly for the opportunity to see the most skilled yogis here.
While in general new students register and begin after all current students, experienced students are sometimes started early immediately. We recognize one such student who registered on Tuesday (we were hanging outside the shala waiting to pick up a scooter) and was already practiced and gone before we arrived to practice on Wednesday. There is definitely some logic to keeping the students who are working on approximately the same skills/series’ together. We have been surprised at how many faces we recognize from our last trip, as well as a few from workshops with other Ashtanga teachers.
Overall, Sharath seems cheerful and happy to be here. This is different from our memory of our last trip when he seemed to take more pains to be the curmudgeonly, disapproving teacher. He buzzes around the room in a long sleeve AYRI shirt, black shorts and some kind of towel wrapped around his waist, presumably for depositing students’ sweat. He is smiling and joking with students, even giving encouragement (!) During our practice time, he spends most of his time backbending students, occasionally adjusting Marichyasana postures or explaining which postures comes next and telling new students when to stop.
There are some remarkable students here. There are several men doing handstand presses during Sun Salutations, and a decent number of students working on Intermediate Series. Many have very good jumping/floating skills and it’s apparent that even though most everyone is doing the same sequence (Primary Series) the potential for refinement is infinite. Some are sloppy, some are precise. Of the few students at our times doing Intermediate, one woman in particular caught our eye as we were waiting to be called in for practice: she did Karandavasana THREE TIMES in a row, unassisted. Apparently it wasn’t up to her standards as she kept repeating it, but as far as we could tell it was perfect. We have also seen students doing incredible backbending: catching the shins/calves unassisted, without putting the hands down. Don’t try this at home, kids. All of that said, there are representatives of all skills levels here.
Today was the first led class of our trip. Fridays and Sundays are led classes. By luck we ended up in Sharath’s second led class at 6a (Saraswati takes over w/ another at 8). It was brutal and wonderful. He counted pretty fast, but wrung all he could out of the really juicy parts (Navasana, anyone?). Ut Plutihi is always a joy. Today we both counted about ten actual breaths in the space between “One!” and “Two!” and let’s not even talk about “Nine!” and “Ten!” Sunday is a Moon Day, so there will be no class. Monday will have led classes instead of Mysore practice to make up for the Moon Day. Sharath advised “No partying!” We find ourselves in the first led class on Monday: 445a.
Yesterday was a long day of homemaking after a terrible night of sweating and mosquitoes in our new place. It’s not uncommon to notice students riddled with bites during practice: but not us! The mosquito net is in place, along with water supply, cooking stove, dishes, pots and pans, etc. Our place is remarkably big: one main room, two extra rooms, a shower room and a bathroom, all very spacious and located above a house. We have it all to ourselves unless we decide to sublet the extra rooms (not likely!). Furnishing it meant two days of going through rupees like water, but in the long run it’s an excellent place at a time when everyone is scrambling to find a room.
Other adventures: mastering the scooter, getting an expert cobbler sandal repair on a streetcorner (btw, the sandals in question were labeled too far gone to fix by a shoe repair establishment in Davenport before we left), learning how to select a ripe pineapple, and readjusting to the joys of India power outages, both planned (every night 8-9p) and otherwise (most anytime, including as this is being written), and the first hot shave.
Right now we're looking down the barrel of over 48 hrs of rest time. What to do?