Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Astanga

I was back at home for my practice today, but I’m starting to feel much better about it. In a few days, it will have been a month since I left the Shala (already!). Perhaps the passage of time is easing the transition, but I also think my practice is deepening as I adjust to the new postures. The longer practice is starting to feel like ‘my practice’.

I meditated for 5 minutes, then started. It took me two hours to move through it. No big surprises today.

The capris-length yoga pants have solved my slippery legs problem, but now I’m having a ‘slippery arms’ problem in Marichyasana D. Lately I’ve been wrapping my wipe rag around the non-grabbing arm so the wrist won’t slip out of my grip during the bind. It makes it harder to bind initially, though. I have a feeling this issue will ease as it gets colder and my practices become less sweaty (both a good and a bad thing, I guess).

Laghu was amazing today. I did my many, many repetitions of lowering and coming up (Owl calls them ‘Pigeon Pecks’) to a vertical block, then a horizontal block. On my last go, I decided to hold for a few breaths, implementing Helen’s advice. The other day in the comments, she advised me to ‘hold the lift’.

In other words, I need to do an Oscar winning performance in a role as ‘The Ashtangi who is resting her head on a cork block’ when in reality, I’m *hovering* my head barely in contact with that cork block while engaging my legs like mad.

It worked! (Thank you, Helen!) I managed four breaths and came back up.

No wonder everyone looks so anguished and uncomfortable while they’re holding this pose!! Another big Astanga Mystery solved!

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Today, I felt The Shift.

All summer, I’ve been inwardly focused, very much ‘a student’, and very caught up in my own projects. I’ve had the luxury of sitting around in the afternoons stewing in my own juices, wrapping my brain around big questions and trying on different answers (mostly by writing about them in my private pages).

If something pissed me off, I hopped on a ferry to the beach and threw rocks in the lake until the feeling eased. I went for long walks. I read. I devoted hours to researching minute aspects of my practice. It was really an incredible summer - I had the luxury of time.

That ended this week. This afternoon, I had a machine full of voicemails, piles of emails and the knowledge that in a few hours, I would be headed back out to teach back-to-back evening classes. I was still teaching over the summer, but on a very light schedule with small classes.

Now, it’s starting: The Big Busy.

And it feels like I’ve made this overnight transformation from ‘student’ back to ‘teacher’. Instead of being the person with all the questions, I need to be the one with all the answers. Putting on the mantle of authority feels like trying on a jacket that had been packed away in moth balls for the season - slightly awkward but at the same time, familiar. I’ll adjust - to both the role and the time crunch. But for now, I’m squirming uncomfortably.

My experiences over the summer have honed my awareness of my power as a teacher and the different layers of meaning in the student-teacher relationship. I’ve never been so keenly sensitive to the trust that my students offer me when I walk into a room and share this practice with them. Once again, my perception of this role is deepening. The months ahead will be interesting.

3 comments:

Helen said...

yay, well done Kai. Love your ocscar winning description, cracked me up! Glad your getting into the swing of things at home aswell, me too.

Kaivalya said...

@Helen
It was a difficult adjustment. I went back and read my blog around the time I started at the Shala and *that* was a tough adjustment too.

But the practice is the practice no matter where you're doing it. It's reassuring to know that I can carry on regardless of circumstances.

amaranthinestudent said...

I've always been rather in awe at teachers, well at least the good ones, because I feel like I get so much from them. So that means they are really "giving" so much, and that must be exhausting at times.
Best wishes for the adjustment period. Summer was a period of reflection for me to, so to have no time for that is different. not bad I guess, just different, sometimes its nice to not have time to dig to deep past the surface and just enjoy each moment. Happy Fall!