Thursday, March 4, 2010
When the daily schedule revolves around yoga practice, as it does for a student in Mysore, even small changes make for big differences. Already it’s nearly the weekend again, with the moonday last Sunday making this week feel short. We have succeeded in getting to early (430a) led class on Sundays (or Mondays, when the moonday falls on Sunday) since that problem the first week, but it is no picnic and throws the schedule for the rest of the day off. Up at 3, done with practice at 530…what now? Still, Sharath only teaches one led Primary class on Sundays (Saraswathi teaches the other) and we will do whatever is necessary to see him every day.
The speed of progress has been on our minds this week in a number of ways. Such conjecture is impossible to avoid in this environment. This week I (E) managed to finally catch in backbending (Tirieng Mukha Uttanasana). Thank you Sharath! It only took two years of daily attempts and, in all seriousness, that’s pretty good, considering how awful backbending was when I started and what a ridiculous thing it is to try do in the first place. The only problem is that now Sharath expects it EVERY DAY. For K, after a drought of over a week waiting for another new posture, today Sharath said, with vague hand gestures to describe the postures, to “take Salambhasana and Bhekasana, BOTH”—sounds like “boat”—on Monday.
The distribution of postures is the subject of much speculation, prognostication, and confabulation. Though theoretically Sharath is doling out postures as each student is ready, in practice it seems at best a product of circumstance rather than design. Most important is certainly how much time you have spent studying with him. Beyond this, it is a matter of various seemingly random factors: if he happens to be by you as you are coming to the end of your postures, the mood he is in, etc. In short, nobody really knows why. But yoga students being who they are, there is a drive to assign great, glorious plans and insights into the giving or withholding of the next posture, though this is most probably a device for obscuring from ourselves just how random it all is.
That said, overall the postures seem to be coming fast and furious for most students. One theory is that Sharath is recognizing that, being that he is only officially teaching for three months this year, it’s now or never for assigning more postures to students. There are still basic guidelines, however, (especially in the Primary Series) that seem intractable and without exception: just today, K talked with a middle-aged student who is on his fourth trip to Mysore and is still working on Marichyasana D. That is, he is still held up about halfway through the Primary Series and said that progress for him is “quite slow.” It’s all relative.
Friday we will register for our second month at the shala, and probably be given a yet-earlier start time (were currently about 645a or 7a). There has been no more information about the potential visa problems, either rumored or official, and it seem to be business as usual around town. Well, one exception: the two Westerner-run cafes catering to yoga students (can you say omelets and baked goods?) have closed due to pressure. They were not legitimate businesses, due to the owners’ tourist, rather than business, visas. It’s a wise move in the present climate, but further cuts down our already paltry ration of wi-fi and drip coffee.
A minor ashtanga celebrity sighting this week: Petri Raisanen has started practicing at the shala. He is quite reserved and has a start time way after ours. Surprising.
Our apologies for not having our own pics this time. Our batteries from home have run out and we're having a difficult time finding batteries good enough to use in the camera. Soon.