Friday, August 27, 2010

Just the Three of Us

Usually, we have two of everything. Two mats, two coffee cups, two beers, two towels, two toothbrushes, etc. We like it that way, thank you very much. But for the last few days, there have been three of us.

We took Matthew out to lunch yesterday and had a great time (portobello sandwich with fries—er, chips, if you're curious). It doesn't sound like we will be hosting a Sweeney workshop at tapas anytime soon, as he's moving quickly out of the traveling yoga circus business and trying to set up fixed month-long courses in Byron Bay, AUS and Thailand. Still, it was great fun to be out-nerded in yoga-nerd talk.

You'd think Matthew would want to talk about anything BUT the y-word, but he keeps bringing it up. Funniest story: pissing Guruji off by doing a difficult arm balance perfectly on the first try. "He said 'Uh…correct' and waddled off to get somebody else." Funniest yoga observation: all of the "old-timers" (long-term Ashtangis) are perpetually crabby from the sleep deprivation of getting up too early. "They said it's more holy. I say 'Bollocks!'" Tonight will be another potluck at Fran and Kathy's house. The last one was a blast, so we're really looking forward to this one.

Fridays are supposed to be self-practice days just like Mon-Thursday, but they are to be "adjustment free." In practice, this means that each of us does our own thing, including Matthew. You'd think everyone would come out just to watch him practice, but you'd be wrong. Friday mornings are a ghost town, and today it was just the three of us from about 7-9a. Pretty fun. Still not sure who it was that farted…

K and I are both "splitting" on Mondays and Tuesdays and practicing Intermediate Series only on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and then either Primary or Moon on Fridays. "Splitting" means doing Primary up to Marichyasana D or Baddhakonasana and then beginning Intermediate Series.

We've been told to only do half of the jumpbacks during Primary, based on a rule that goes something like: "If you CAN do all of the jumpbacks, then you don't HAVE to." Presumably, this is specific to the phase of adding on Intermediate postures. It IS nice to have a little left in the tank when getting to the difficult middle section of Intermediate. K is working on Karandavasana and I (E) have been stopped at Nakrasana, though I do a pretty lame "knee friendly" Karandavasana modification.

One distinct thing about Matthew's teaching is that he likes students to emphasize the backbending section of the practice. Standard format for a Primary-level student is three press-ups, three dropbacks, and then assisted backbending. He suggests doing four or five of each of these things, as well as prefacing each with one or two modified, easier versions (half-bridge before press-ups, half-bends before dropbacks, etc). Both K and I are right in the thick of learning hand-stand dropovers, so also in our practice are a few exercises for this, which include headstand/forearm balance dropovers and handstand half-bends. I'm exhausted just typing it all. It DOES, however, make for a sweet, sweet rest at the end.

K continues to wow with assisted Tiriang Mukhottanasana (standing backbending all the way around to hold the ankles/legs). With Matthew's help, she is catching close to the knee—imagine a person bent around backward, holding the knees with the hands, shaped like a capital letter "P." It's usually quiet enough in the room to hear the Rice-Crispy pops of the spine. Wicked!!

One weekend of workshops left. Tomorrow (Sat) will be lead Simha (Lion) sequence in the morning and a technique-based inversion workshop in the afternoon. Sunday will be Pranayama and Meditation. Next week we expect to learn the Lion sequence, which we will then practice over the next year or so with Matthew as correspondence teacher. Things will wrap up on Thursday, with Matthew, Fran & Kathy all leaving town on Thursday night.

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