Thursday, December 3, 2009

What does it all mean?

Lots of inspiring stuff in blogland these days - food for thought! It is making me think about what I'm doing with my practice and how I got here.

It's so interesting how each yogi's experience differs based on teacher/shala/geography.

I had done yoga on and off for about 3 years, mostly power-type yoga. I had a great first teacher who then left town. So I went to whatever random classes I could find, even some Bikram, yup.

Then I wandered into an Ashtanga studio and was promptly humbled by the most physically difficult 70 minutes of my life. Full Primary. There was no stopping in Led either, no time to say uncle, no mysore attention to put you out of your misery and halt do the whole thing. Well, assuming you could keep up. There were binds and twists and lotuses and all kinds of things I'd never seen! The friendly shapes and sizes on all sides of me were wrapping and binding and kurmasana-ing with ease.....I was thrilled and excited and couldn't wait to get started. The teacher, J, was tough/kind/stern/dry and pretty much exactly what I needed.

I spent about 9 months fumbling my way through primary. I did not (!) master it before moving on to intermediate. My teacher believes that the milder backbends are beneficial and worth practicing to balance the folds of primary so she lets many of her students do up to Ustrasana after they learn Primary.

Based on the experiences of others that I read about, in a stricter shala, I am pretty sure I wouldn't be doing intermediate at all. I would still be working on my strength, transitions and my nemesis...bhujapidasana! I don't actually hate it, I truly love it...each time I practice I run into Mr. Bhujapidasana and it's like, "are we really going to do this again? all right I guess we are."

I was quickly given the rest of intermediate, in maybe two or three more chunks over a couple months. Despite not being able to...jump back, or do a good clean bhuja, or a hands-free setu bandhasana, or a full-on wristgrab in supta k. Or the plenty of other cleanup things I could work on. Chakrasana even (which I avoid because of prior neck complications, and probably more than a little fear).

I now know that's not the traditional method really, but until I started reading blogs...I had no idea that that was different from anyone else's experience - LOL!

I trust my teacher and I love my practice. I aim to have enough physical challenge to distract my mind and keep it from wandering - I'm not nearly advanced enough to turn it off at will, I rely heavily on the physical challenge.

At the moment I can't imagine wanting more poses, as intermediate is more than enough for me to chew on!

Like anyone, I love the idea of someday fitting my leg comfortably behind my head. Despite the impatience or frustration I might sometimes feel, then talk myself out of...I am beyond happy with my 70-90 minutes of escaping the world. :-)


Liz said...

My word verification is "hyper".
ha ha ha!!!

I love reading about other people's experiences and histories with the practice. Funny how we all come to the same thing, though. Roll out the mat, get on it.

I think the difference in teaching styles only interferes if a student goes elsewhere and expects it to be the same. No way will it ever be the same, as we obviously know from reading blogs! We each have our experiences and yet we connect. Pretty cool.

karen said...

"Like anyone, I love the idea of someday fitting my leg comfortably behind my head."

This totally cracked me up! Yeah, I go around thinking the same thing, but when you ask, about 99.9% of people do NOT share this wish. LOL!

KMB said...

Hi Liz - I do too!! Your post completely inspired this one :-) I think it is so neat hearing how others have "gotten here" is special that everyone's experience is different.

I also love hearing the perspectives of people who have been doing it perspective has changed even in the past year and I imagine it will keep doing so. Learning primary was a forceful exercise (for me)....I have really changed that in intermediate - I particularly like how you put it in your post - there is NO RUSH!

Hi Karen - I do love an absurd sweeping generalization, hahaha! when I re-read it after posting I thought the exact same thing, and I almost deleted it!! It is pretty hilarious how the vast majority of planet earth thinks LBH is just insane and yet it makes sense to us.

I routinely park the liberator in front of the TV, recline and start jimmying my leg up my shoulder watching Glee. What are my neighbors doing, I wonder? :-)

lew said...

I had an unconventional introduction to second, too, and wouldn't have thought twice about it, if it hadn't been for blogland. Maybe I would be better off not knowing anything about the politics of ashtanga in various and sundry places around the world, just doing my own little practice in my own little shala (well, home now). But I do enjoy reading about other people's struggles and victories, so I keep coming back...

That thing about LBH - I think exactly that about kapo as well as eka pada! WHo *wouldn't* want to stick their head on their feet and be able to breathe normally?!? Really?

KMB said...

Hi Lew - I've learned tons from blogland...the struggles and victories are the best part! I'll have to swing by your blog archives and get your unconventional 2nd story :-)

Kapo definitely has that "just plain silly" aspect to it too!

lew said...

I don't think that story is on my blog - I started mine after my Graves' diagnosis just a couple of months ago, as a way of keeping track of all the little ups and downs of the disease - it was thanks to yoga that I was aware of something wrong fairly quickly. I started second when my regular teacher was away, and a substitute moved me on(!) It was a teacher who knows me well, and had been teaching a led class I went to for ages. She had asked, several months before, whether I was doing second yet, and when I said no, she just kind of shrugged, and said "Odd. You're definitely ready". Then, when N went on a a world tour for 3 months and she took over the Mysore classes, she gave me pasasana and krounchasana. I was in a quandry when my teacher came back, though - do I just plunge into pasasana? Stop and ask if it's OK? I decided on the former because talking didn't seem appropriate at the time, and but he yelled from across the room "Lisa! You're doing intermediate?!?" I could've died. He gave me a long long pep/warning talk about intermediate after practice, stuff about it taking up a lot of space, blah blah blah, but left it up to me to decide whether I really wanted to do it. I don't think he would ever have given me pasasana - "you have an awful lot of other stuff in your life - 3 kids", etc etc, but from then he moved me ahead at a fairly brisk clip.

Well, it'll all be back to the beginning soon anyway, because he's moved on to another school and I've decided to stay put rather than schlep across the city. So, I have to take up with the other teacher at the school (who is officially authorised, and I have practised with before, so it's all good). I may well be back to half primary in a couple of weeks!

KMB said...

Hi lew - just goes to show much the teacher impacts the practice...I'm glad for you that your teacher talked to you and eventually let you make the decision. I can't imagine why "other stuff in your life" would make you ineligible for some nerve cleansing! I think the "other stuff" is what makes us need it most :-)

It will be interesting to see how you get on with your newest teacher - I've never had an authorised teacher! I switch back and forth between two sometimes...mostly J and sometimes A and they have very different approaches. It can be confusing sometimes! In general, A gave me things sooner than J...I didn't do them in J's room though until she gave me them herself.

Also - the "primary up to ustrasana" thing that my teacher employs is a Nancy Gilgoff thing, I just learned this on Skippetty's blog! This makes sense, as nancy is my teacher's teacher.