Sunday, 19 February 2012

As week three in Mysore begins...

On a daily basis I see that although what I “get” in terms of direct hands-on adjustment, or verbal correction is totally minimal, still I am learning so much. How is this possible – learning without teaching? I suppose to say that suggests that teaching only happens in one way: I tell you, I move your body, I help you. When in fact teaching in this method, through this lineage - it seems to happen in this room. Sharath talked in conference the first day I arrived about how in the West yoga is seen as something you “do”, but when you are really understanding and practicing yoga it is something which happens inside of you. 
We were also reminded by Kino towards the end of the retreat that this practice is not somewhere you go to to get something tangible from another person “it’s not about what you get, it’s about where you go”. She described reliance on a teacher as being like a key to open a door. You need the key initially but over time, as you become grounded in the practice, you don’t need that support in the same way. She said that the purpose of the teacher is to “hold the space” that opens the door to the lineage – sometimes through adjustment or instruction, sometimes just through an energy that they bring. 

It’s not until I looked back at my notes that I saw that what Kino was describing is exactly what I have been experiencing the past two weeks. 

At most, Sharath told me “no no no, this is not correct” in my first led class (relating to my hand and arm position in uttitha parsvakonasana), he told me to go back when I was futzing around before dropping back, one day he told me that I was too slow, and he did his funny disapproval grunt when I went into a warm-up bridge before a backbend one day (and I won’t be doing that again!). In two weeks, c’est tout. 
Bougainvillea love-in 
But I am far (far) from voicing any concern about this. My first two practices were just a sweaty blur, I couldn’t honestly say what went on whilst I was in that room. I was in a state of overwhelm. Then each day since that has started to come into focus a little more. 
I had a eureka moment in realising last week that internal rotation is EVERYTHING. When teachers notice or correct the turning out of the feet through vinyasas, it seems to me that this is why...I think I have probably been guilty of this myself, but realising that when I inwardly rotate my thighs and engage my feet throughout  my upward dog (and take care not to allow them to splay out), I have a strong feeling of engagement throughout my lower back and hips (instead of "escaping it" - just like if you lift the heels when backbending you somehow escape the icky place you don't want to go). Turning straight over my feet (instead of letting them roll over the sides) keeps the rotation firm. As I move into downward dog I notice that I also want to inwardly rotate my arms, engaging the shoulders strongly to keep the foundation strong.
Another eureka moment came a few days later in realising that I can (and must) engage my quads throughout the practice, pulling up the legs strongly in most of the standing poses – especially in trikonasana which my teacher has been adjusting me in consistently for two years and trying to help me understand the action I need to find. In working alone, in true self-practice, but in this space held by Sharath, I think I am somehow finding the answers to some of these ongoing questions. The reason I’m saying all of this is not because I want to tell you to do the same, or even because I think I have discovered something impressive, or clever, or even if it would feel the same or as monumental to anybody else. I suppose I am just keen to express the place I find myself in, almost three years to the day since I first discovered this practice, moving from the gross to the subtle, finding that in the right space that the practice is the teacher, but of course that comes about only because this place and space is so charged, so magical somehow, and (I have no doubt) also because Sharath is here, preserving this lineage, watching over us as we work through and make these discoveries - sometimes with help, sometimes for ourselves.

So maybe another day I’ll find the time to write more about the more general experience of being here: the strange shock of arrival, the settling in, my inability to avoid the constant possibility of socialising, the food, the people; the utterly insane dreams I have every.single.night; the perceived insanity of led classes, and the moment where everything crystallised into one perfect moment of stillness and ease in urdhva padmasana; the fear struck in my heart sitting in the foyer on my first few days realising that I could ignore the fact that “One more!” was finally referring to me. Maybe another day I’ll find the time for all of that, but not tonight.
I couldn't put it better myself.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about people's Mysore experiences! The learning without teaching aspect is something that makes sense more a more to me.

    And this:
    I had a eureka moment in realising last week that internal rotation is EVERYTHING.
    Has certainly struck a chord with me this week! I feel positively duck-footed now I (and my teacher!)have spotted how much I need to rotate my legs in.