Friday, January 06, 2006

1st Led Practice

First, a thanks to all those who have sent comments and support. I really appreciate it!

This morning was my first led class at the shala. On Friday's there are 2 led primary classes, one at 5 and the other at 6:30. I went to the 6:30. The sun wasn't yet up so there was only one cow being milked on the street. There are usually five or six. I didn't even see any of the dogs that usually are running through the streets. I did hear the Krishna's chanting and ringing bells though, that was a good soundtrack for the walk.

There were a ton of people sitting on the steps when I got there. I settled in near the gate. Shortly after the closing chant from the 5 am class Saraswathi opened the door and we all poured in. As the earlier students finished paying their respects to Guruji they returned to their mats and rolled them up. A new student waiting to fill their real estate. After finding my place in the center to the left of Guruji's chair I went to change and returned. You could cut the energy in the room with a knife as Guruji called out "Samasthiti" and everyone stood at attention.

So, though I'm not certain of this, I think that the family use the led days to keep the practice "pure." For those of you not familiar, the typical practice here is Mysore-style. That means that everyone goes into the shala at different times and begins their practice. Ashtanga is a set series of movements and breaths that move from one asana to the next. There is a very specific count of inhales and exhales to be followed with each asana and a "vinyasa" or flow between asana that have a count as well. In a Mysore-style class the teacher walks amongst the students, who are all at different points in the series, and makes adjustments and corrects any issues the student may have. A led class is very different as everyone does the same thing at the same time and the counts are called out loud. This is a great time for the teacher to check that everyone is doing the correct breathing and movement sequence. I think that's clear.

So this morning was a led class and for the most part Guruji, Sharath and Saraswathi stood to the sides of the room and checked for any problems. There are a few corrections given here and there but for the most part you just follow the call and move through the sequence. Today, at least the second round of primary at 6:30 was led by Sharath. Sharath's count was very slowly paced, which means it was easier to follow but that we were in the seat of each asana for a longer period of time. This sounds good, but some asana get to be a bit much with an extended count. I've got to say that I felt great through practice. I struggled a few times, but I managed to keep with the count fairly well. As we neared the end of Marichyasana D Sharath and Saraswathi began to walk through the room and ask people to stop their practice if they were unable to keep with the count or get the correct form of the asana.

Of course the goal is to let go of ambition and to simply practice but, at least for me there is always an interest to moving forward, i.e. not getting stopped. Of course, with that said, I have gone through the whole week here doing the full primary, which I never expected, so IÂ’d be fine with being stopped. It might actually kill some of the anxiety I feel when going through those last few asana. Well, that really didn't matter as I didn't get stopped but made my way through Sharath's very long five count for each of these new asana that my body is not used to. I thought I was going to snap in half at the fourth count in Setu Bandhasana! Then came the Urdvhas. I'll leave that there.

I really figured today was the day that Sharath would tighten the reigns and stop me, but alas I continue to fumble forward. Ah, the never ending discourse between ambition and acceptance thrives on! I am still so new to this practice, I feel truly blessed to be here and receive this mojo as I lay the foundation that is the primary. I'm still completely in awe!

I called today's practice the best of my life when someone asked me how it was this morning. Reflecting on it, I'm not sure if there is a best or worst practice. It seems that it all becomes one movement across time that ebbs and flows. I'll have to find a better way to describe that. I'll meditate on it today.

I'm off now to Russell and Sally's to have a lunch prepared by Aunty from Lakshimipuram. The shala used to be in Lakshimipuram and Aunty used to cook for the students there. Since the shala moved to Gokulum I think Aunty's business has dropped off a bit. Russell and Sally arranged for her to come to Gokulum to cook lunch. After having read about Aunty for so long I am really looking forward to meeting her and tasting her cooking. It should be a nice lunch!

Afterwards? Who knows, its Mysore. :) ~G

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