Sitting over on the far side of the room under the pictures of our yoga family, with the scent of flower offerings wafting under my nose, I found this week's conference enchanting. The topic was Kriya Yoga, i.e. the last three niyamas of ashtanga yoga.
Tapas: we have to lead a disciplined life to do this practice.
Svadhyaya: doesn't mean study on your own without a teacher, it means you think about what yoga means all day, and read a lot of texts outside of the hours you spend with your teacher.
Ishvara pranidhana: surrender to a personal deity or greater force; we are just a tiny speck in the universe.... when we forget this and the 'I' comes first, problems arise.
He said more, of course, but those are my conference notes.
What conference notes can't capture is the element of direct transmission. I appreciate the notes that others post, but for me scribbling notes takes away from immersion in the moment and dilutes experience. That has always been the case, in my academic studies as well. Of course sometimes it's necessary, but the words are not the most important thing for me, and to quote some house anthem, 'it's a vibe thing'....
There was something electric about sitting there following the eyes and words of my teacher as the warm golden tones of the late afternoon sun filtered through onto the stage and a gentle breeze riffled the palms outside and the lazy vertical blinds. The breeze didn't reach into the room... it was packed, and hot... the ceiling fans were off.
I detest ceiling fans, unless set to 'dead slow no wake' (to borrow a nautical expression).
The sounds of yoga students' children playing outside on the steps would rise to a screeching crescendo periodically, then die down to reveal the bark of a lone dog, screech of a bird, or the cry of an itinerant vendor of this or that - mangoes, garlands, what have you.
Sharath's wife sat crouched at the left edge and his children wandered in and out onto the stage - Shraddha, quite grown up now and looking rather lovely in a hot pink glittery top bearing the message 'Shine Bright', and Sambhav, sporting the customary Spiderman suit and cheeky expression. He managed to interrupt proceedings completely in order to filch money to buy strawberries, and returned to clown around on stage, getting away with a fair amount before a fierce glare was turned on him... then laughter, and a strawberry popped into the boss's mouth.
All of this was just so very charming.
Then back to kriya yoga......
In other news, my accommodation plans for next month have fallen through, and I have no idea where I'll be staying this time next week. I've put all my feelers and tentacles out, so I'm sure something will come up, although the post-Christmas hordes will be descending and everything seems to be booked up.
This grain of sand will find somewhere to settle on the beach. Hopefully somewhere with wifi and fridge.... I've pretty much given up on a washing machine.
(If you know of anything, dear reader... let me know, please...)
I've now dropped the seven headstands and been given the first posture of advanced practice. Been told to move my hand further forward, had my head position adjusted, and told to straighten the bottom leg more. That was not too bad, and I'd rather receive corrections straight away.
Then backbending.... and after last week's victory, I made a complete hash of the handstand sequence. Couldn't even get close to the 'toc' (OK one attempt out of about a dozen came kind of close). My shoulders seemed to keep wiggling into the wrong place, which just felt dangerous, and I had that thing where I jump too much into the left arm (probably due to more power in the right leg?). The French assistant came to my rescue, but even with his help it was pretty dismal. Disappointing..... but as we all know, some days are just like that.
Then got to the part I can supposedly do - drop over and stand up - but was a little short of juice by this time, not to mention shaking, swimming in sweat, and feeling inadequate and like a spectacle. I try to take only a little jump and just press most of the way up, but sometimes I almost get there and fall back (I won't say crash).... so this happened, and my foot hit something and I heard a yelp.
FUCK! I spun round..... what do you say to someone after kicking them in the face? Utterly mortified..... She was gracious, and didn't seem to be bleeding or missing teeth. Then I had to carry on, but by now I felt like such a loser that some tears were mixed with the sweat.... I put my head down in child's pose for a few breaths, shaking, then had to just GET THROUGH THE REST OF IT.... by the last one Sharath was standing at the top of my mat. I actually managed to hold vrshchikasana for a couple of breaths and had a good backbend, but dragged my mat back for finishing with eyes cast down and tail between legs.
Of course some people would have noticed, but I probably wasn't QUITE the spectacle I felt.... most people are absorbed in their own practice, not my dramas. Wow, these points from kriya yoga just keep coming up - abject and victorious are just the two sides of the 'I' coin. Get over yourself....
I waited for my victim in the changing room. Luckily my feet had only landed on the top of her head, and it turned out to be another case of 'these things happen'. I guess what I learned is that I wasn't operating in my own space, as I had thought.
So now, yeah..... another three days of this before Friday.
I was the one craving a full six-day week....
And what do we do? We get up tomorrow and do it all again.
Oh, what a way to Joy.....