Now sitting at the Green Hotel with the laptop and will publish later. I'm out for dinner in a bit at Oyster Bay, then there is a rooftop party I could hit in theory.... but frankly I expect to be in bed well before midnight, despite the New Moon (day off practice) tomorrow.
Nice practice today. The tictoc made its first reappearance since my initial success - today I managed ONE, after several attempts. The funny thing is.... when I succeed, it is so 'not a thing'. It is like this - 'oh, there I went, all the way over.... that was easy...'. This makes it different from many postures which are achieved only with great effort, at least in the beginning. Here, there's been an absolute ton of effort over several years to learn it, and then.... when it happens, I just sail right over! So fun!
I had to learn to regulate my efforts. The way the schedule works, I get to work on this posture from Monday through Thursday. It isn't a part of led classes (can you imagine....)... So there was the Thursday I did it for the first time, then the Monday I felt lame and kicked a girl in the head, this has all been blogged. On Tuesday, I jumped and jumped and jumped. It wasn't working, but I kept trying. I became somewhat desperate. Sharath finally came over and practically growled at me.... 'that's enough... stand up!'
He was right, of course. It wasn't really very safe. After that, on Wednesday, Thursday, Monday, I got close, closer. But I stopped when the returns were diminishing. I kept a little juice for vrshchikasana (balancing with feet on the head), and started realising that here too (even here!), every practice is just a practice. That I have time; that it's a process. Self-regulation. I shouldn't need him to tell me when enough is enough.
So today - several close attempts, then I got one over (and oh! how easy!).... then it wasn't going to happen again. Actually a funny thing happened... I've been watching a few advanced practitioners do it, noticing how they rock the weight into the feet for momentum and half the hands actually leave the ground before they rock back into the hands to go over... that's how much momentum can be used. So I tried this... put a bit TOO MUCH weight in the feet and BOING! I accidentally stood up, and it happened very fast! Luckily I didn't propel myself into the person in front of me, just stood there and burst into a laugh.
Then I did vrshchikasana and nailed it in front of the boss :-)
So anyway, I feel I have settled into my practice here, after a month. I have two postures of sthira bhaga (3rd series) to work on now as well. Oh, and from next Monday my start time moves from 9am to 5am. Hard core!! That will require some adjustments.
I had a bit of a cold towards the end of last week. I take the attitude that germs may enter my body, but they don't have to take over completely, and sure enough it didn't really hold me back, just made me feel grotty. Then Friday night I was sick, basically up with the shits all night (sorry). Good night for it anyway, with Saturday our day off.... led intermediate on Sunday was a bit rough though. Six of us on the stage, with me belching up strange gasses and full of mucus all through it.
Actually I don't think of it as being sick... more like me and India getting used to each other again. A few days and a few Ayurvedic remedies later, and I am right as rain :-)
We had conference on Sunday. This conference absolutely BLEW MY MIND. It was crowded and I was sitting on the stage.
I don't believe in conference notes, especially not ones that aim to be comprehensive. The important part is always missed out. But there was a lot about how to practice, and why we practice the way we do, and personal anecdotes about Guruji and Krishnamacharya that were absolutely priceless to hear in person. And hearing Sharath tell about going to collect Guruji's ashes off the ground the day after the cremation, and finding the sacrum (sacred bone) intact amongst the ashes.... just... wow?
Being here, one feels personally connected to a strong yoga lineage.
Apart from all this, the theme of last week was 'WHERE WILL I BE LIVING??' The last two trips were six weeks each, and I had a job in the financial sector to go back to - I lived in Urban Oasis, a hotel. This year I stayed there the first month, and actually I was shocked at the cost. Bearing in mind I'm still paying rent on a flat in London.....
I had housing plans for the second month which, due to a long story, fell through. It is busy season now and Gokulam is packed. I also wanted to help out a first-timer friend who was arriving and who I knew only had three nights booked at the UO. I also thought it might give me more flexibility looking for either a one- or two-bedroom place....
What I found was, of course, a sea of confusion.
Rooms are available, and then they are not. Things are confirmed, and then they are not. A flat is available, but it can't be said exactly from when. Someone will call in a few days and let you know. A place has wifi and then it actually doesn't. A flat is available, but no deposit will be taken (very suspicious!). Something is available short-term, you may have to move a few times. Fine, but will someone please pin down the dates?!?! Fixers are seen, landlords are met with, head wobbles occur, and you have no idea where you stand. You want something modern. You worry about cockroaches, you worry about rats. Everything is in flux, you go with the flow.... it's India. This is part of the process. This is a sort of a test. Yoga at home is easy, you come to India to deal with this shit. 'Chitta vrttis' (fluctuations of the mind) occur. 'Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind' (Yoga Sutras, 1:2). Practice going well? That's great. Where the hell are you going to live though?? Fuck knows! You know it will work itself out. You trust that it will work itself out. You endeavour not to FREAK out. It's a game of musical chairs...... Christmas season (oh yeah, we had a lovely Christmas dinner at the Metropole during all this)..... people leaving, people arriving, reshuffles, rearrangements.... will there be a yogi left standing with no place to live?
Actually it's not so scary at all. You know this community will never, ever let you down, you will NEVER be in the streets, you'll never be in danger, you'll have someone's sofa till you find something, you'll be looked after. But your yoga practice is paramount, you need routine, you need a decent sleep, because for God's sake you have to attempt this (insert posture name) business again in the morning.....
I'm in a good place now, and will live in two more - four in total over the three months. They are all good places, now it's a matter of refinements - more space? more privacy? And as a good friend put it, 'you get to know what you like.' Yes, this will all be very useful experience for the future......
And finally, what has dominated the last few days is great joy at the arrival of many dear friends. From Saturday onward and continuing still, dear ones are arriving in trickles. So many hugs! Others will be leaving, and that is a little bit sad.... but we'll meet again, whether here or at home.
I'm just hugely grateful to be one of the ones who stays on. Two more months now....
So the New Year arrives, and I can't think of anything I would rather be doing with my life than conducting this grand experiment where I am both the scientist and the lab. And doing it here, where it is all that much more intense.
Wishing a very Happy New Year to all my loved ones all over the world!!! Love, love, and thinking of you....
**note: published at 23:55 on 31 Dec - in bed.
Photo: cats at Sandhya's