Friday, June 25, 2010

Astanga

Psst! Ya wanna have some fun?

Try this:

After a sweaty, satisfying Mysore practice, head over to the Iyengar yoga school up the street. Let reception know that you’re waiting for someone. Prop your Manduka against the wall and settle into a comfy Padmasana on the floor, Starbucks cup in hand, near a group of chatty Iyengar students gossiping in the corner (under a larger-than-life portrait of the Great Man himself).

Then, with a conspicuous flourish, pull out your worn copy of Yoga Mala and start reading. Wait...for the conversation to trickle to a brief pause...then it starts up again.

It’s a stranger! From the outside! Ooooooooooooo!

That was fun :-D

When the class ended, I watched the students file out and greeted April. While she was in the change room, I oh-so-casually sauntered over to the classroom door so I could gawk at all the ropes and pullies and stuff on the wall. I’d heard about the wall gizmos, but it was never part of my experience when I was an Iyengar student years ago. Trippy!

I noticed that the Iyengar people all carry yoga towels - I was mystified. Later, I asked April what that was about. Do they actually sweat during the class? No, there’s no sweating. They place the towels over the blankets and props to keep them clean. Hm, interesting! It’s a different world up there...

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My visit to Shala North was loads of fun! As I suspected, DR wasn’t there, but his assistants are well-trained and fabulous; I felt well taken care of.

I wasn’t sure what to do about informing the assistants about the ‘thing’ going on in my hamstring. Usually DR chats me up beforehand so I can give him the scoop. I decided to start my practice and when the first forward-bendy-type adjustment was offered, I would decline and word would get around.

But that moment never arrived. When Prasarita C came and went without an adjustment, I just relaxed and carried on. I had a pretty good practice. The Janus felt much better today - the forward bend on the left side is getting deeper.The Marichyasanas were slippery but fun.

Then, along came Kurmasana. Aw, my poor crippled Turtle!!! Today, it actually felt *worse*. Since no authorised teachers were around to ‘bad lady’ me, I went into child’s pose afterward to rest up for Supta Kurmasana.

Since I can’t enter Supta K from Kurmasana anymore, I’ve been improvising: I sit up and take my left leg behind my shoulder, then lower down, bind my fingers, and cross my ankles. It’s not ideal, but it works. I was in the final moments of contorting myself into this pretzel when I heard an assistant hurry over. The assistant gave me a firm, efficient adjustment, bringing my legs further behind my shoulders as I curled deeper into the pose. The whole manoeuvre was done with care, but this assistant wasn’t shy about balloon-animaling me into the pose.

I was mystified. That was bold, given that I had just done an extremely modified Kurmasana!

A few minutes later, I received another deep adjustment in Baddha Konasana.

Those were EXACTLY the two adjustments I would have asked for. Not only that, but as I settled into my post-UD Paschimo, the assistants left me alone to fold over my bent legs in peace. There’s something going on...clearly, DR’s assistants have MIND-READING SIDDHIS!!

This is amazing! :-D I’m attending the adjustments workshop with DR this weekend. While I’ll admit I was genuinely looking forward to it, now I can’t WAIT!!! I want to learn these mind-reading siddhis too!

(On a more serious note: thanks, assistants, for taking such fine care of me and my pesky gremlin during my visit to your room; you guys were GREAT!)

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By far, the best part about my visit to Shala North this morning was meeting new people. I really appreciate all of you who took a moment to introduce yourselves to me. I’m finding that being a ‘blog celebrity’ is interesting for all of 3 seconds, but making real connections with awesome people is infinitely fascinating. I had SO MUCH FUN hanging out in the change room and chatting. I’ve said it before, but Shala North has an amazing community and I love how friendly and open everyone is. Thank you for making me feel so welcome!

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In other news, my shaky relationship with YogiToes towels is officially over. I received one for Christmas and bought two others on sale, figuring that I could switch out the towels every two days. Since hygiene is a big deal me (I even bring my mat home once a week to clean it), I loved the idea of freshly laundered towels. The YogiToes are easy to throw in the wash.

Trouble is, I *hate* them. The texture of the fabric is weird and they bunch up. They’re not long enough to tuck under the edges of my Manduka. Also (and I know this is irrational): I hate the ‘dot’. Stupid dot. What’s it for anyway? Does anybody know?

So I’ve come full-circle. I started my practice on a traditional Mysore rug. It was so pretty with all those different brightly coloured stripes. I loved, loved, loved it and was heartbroken when it wore out last summer (It literally had holes in it!).

Today, I bought two new Indian yoga rugs (DR must love me - every time I walk into his studio, I spend $$$). I used one today and it was great. I have a green one and an orange one - bright, happy colours to keep me alert and cheerful during my practice.

5 comments:

daydreamingmel said...

I feel the need for some bullet points as I'm inspired to make a looooong comment - will try & curb it though!!
First - the 'dot' is meant to be a drishte point I believe. WTF?? Us ashtangis know there's no such drishte...(although I have used it at times in headstand - my balance is shaky, sometimes I need a far off focal point!). I am a yogitoes user from necessity as my current mat threatened to kill me in a slip n slide accident but don't find it ideal.But what about the Indian style rug, don't they slip? Pros & cons?
And the mind-reading adjustments made me giggle - but I think you have a point! I had a week of gentle,reassuring adjustments in a posture I *never* get adjusted it immediately after I'd had a meltdown in it. How could they all know?
Glad to hear you had fun on your shala excursion though, it's nice to have options even if they're not practical for everyday - especially when there is a feeling of community there too!

The Misanthropic Yogini said...

Not interested in the Manduka eQua towel? I have two and I love them. Very minimal slipping and bunching with perfect traction -- not so grippy that I don't need to activate the hands in down dog and the like.

Arturo said...

dear Kai

funny bit about the stranger in the midst. blog celebrity. hehe. yes, 3 seconds is probably the right length. enough for a smile and a reference to it before moving on.

i also fell out of love with the yogitoes towel (and fell too often hard on the buns while jumping thru. ouch.) i like the mysore rug. i'm figuring out how often to wash it, though. during the summer it's getting smelly more rapidly.

hugs
Arturo

Sophia said...

It was great to meet you up close!
I agree with your mat choice. I had a yogi toes and an eko mat and didn't like the synthetic feel. I just switched to my extra thick cotton rug now that it's summer.
Hope to see you back soon!

Kaivalya said...

@Mel
The dot is really a Drishte? Odd. I guess it's their logo too (just Googled it).

I actually like the Indian rugs a lot. They don't tend to bunch up like the YogiToes. I used my old Mysore rug for years and was happy with it. I just find that handwashing them is labour-intensive.

The Siddhi thing is a bit of a inside joke. I know that at least one of the assistants reads this blog, so I suspect that's how they knew. Of course, I could be wrong - there could be superb metaphysical powers at work! ;-)

@Misanthropic
I do like the Manduka eQua towels, particularly the size and the texture, but I HATE the colours. The only colours I seem to find are dark and fugly (I have 'thunder'). Plus, they're almost twice as expensive as the Indian rugs. In the end, I decided to go back to what I 'know'.

@Arturo
I wash mine every week, which means my two new rugs will get three uses each on a typical week before washing. I do not like smelly rugs!! Yuck.

@Sophia
It was great meeting you too! You may see me sooner than either of us thought because I'm coming up for Mysore again tomorrow. Class at Shala Central is *canceled* due to the lousy protests. Argh.

After practice, I'm going to grab lunch in the neighbourhood and then attend the adjustments workshop. I'll be up there all day!