Monday, August 16, 2010


One week into this one month yo-cation with M Sweeney and things are going very well. In our limited experience, the traveling yoga life seems to have certain common elements: hot climate, small quarters, early mornings, friendly people, and lots and lots of coffee.

Basic schedule—

Sunday afternoon: Pranayama & Meditation
Monday-Thursday morning: Mysore-style practice
Monday afternoon: Teacher Training
Friday morning: Mysore-style practice, but "adjustment free"
Saturday morning: Led class
Saturday afternoon: Technique workshop

There are no more than 25 students here for the bulk of the program (Mysore practices & workshops). The weekend workshops can be attended ala carte, so those have a few more students. Some students will only be here for the first two weeks. We have met students from other parts of North Carolina, Texas, Minnesota, and Alaska (!!). The studio hosting Matthew is Ride the Breath, owned by Fran Slavich and Kathy Hallen. The studio is located in the back of their house just a stone's throw from the east part of the Duke campus here in Durham. It is relatively small and wonderfully intimate. The morning practices are warm (not hot) and moist.

Matthew teaches both Ashtanga sequences (he has mastered the first four) and his own sequences from his book Vinyasa Krama. Mysore classes are much different than with Sharath. For one, Mysore classes here are limited to 15 people (there are probably about 10 in our 8a time slot) so attention is the norm. There is quiet conversation, levity & joking, and none of the gravitas (and pseudo-gravitas) of KPJAYI. It is that environment we try to create: genuine but not (necessarily) serious. There are students working on Matthew's first two sequences (Moon and Lion) as well all four of the Ashtanga sequences that Matthew teaches. Fran is 2/3 of the way through fourth series, something he talked about at a potluck and he Kathy hosted on Friday night. A few notable quotes:

"I'm about 2/3 of the way through fourth and I don't know if I'm going to finish. I'm 48, and that shit is hard!!"

"Mulabandhasana is the first posture. It's 530 in the morning!"

It has been a bit jarring to slip into what is ultimately a very comfortable teacher-student relationship with Matthew. K and I both realized that we were operating from a Sharath mindset at first, and therefore found a few things off-putting:

1) Matthew remembered who we were.
2) Matthew takes an active interest in teaching. Creepy…

A little hyperbole there, but our experience here so far has truly been the opposite polarity from the gruff, Indian experience.

We are both at about the same place in practice: Primary is good and we'll probably be learning the rest of Intermediate along with Intermediate backbending (handstand dropovers with control) during the next two weeks. We then expect to learn the beginning of the Lion sequence during the last week. Unlike the Moon sequence, we have not dabbled with the Lion sequence on our own (except in subjecting our students to sections of them in Vinyasa classes!!), but have heard rave reviews from Fran and Kathy.

Two bits of tapas news…we will begin instructing the Moon sequence to interested students upon our return, especially in Mysore classes…we have tentative plans to begin early morning Mysore sessions this fall, so start getting up a little earlier to get ready…


Z said...

Get up earlier? Right...

E and K said...

J, if you get up any earlier it will be getting up late.