This week my practice got serious. Sharath gave me Ustrasana and Laghu Vajrasana at the end of last week but I only got to practice them a couple of times as I missed 2 days due to a brief period of yoga/heat/general life exhaustion.
He said I should show him Laghu, so on Monday I was trying to catch his attention from the other side of the room, but he was a tad busy as you can imagine. I felt like a bit of a lemon as it was, without waving my arms around wildly to call him over. So I just carried on and thought I’d show him the next day instead.
When I left the practice room he was sitting on his ‘throne’ on the stage (it’s just an ordinary chair but there’s something quite throne-like about the way he sits up there). He called me over and asked if I’d done Laghu Vajrasana. When I said I had but couldn’t catch his attention, he told me to show him tomorrow. On Tuesday he was nearby when I got to it, so he said “Show me”. It was definitely not the best Laghu I’ve ever done and I haven’t yet mastered staying down for 5 breaths AND coming up using only my legs. Nevertheless he said “Tomorrow Kapotasana“ . I was shocked and felt like saying “Are you sure?” but who am I to argue with the boss!
Now, although I’ve practiced Kapotasana before, this was only briefly about 2 years ago, as I had to scale back and rebuild my practice, plus I changed teachers. But suddenly, here I was, about to start a brand new asana in the main shala – and on my first trip to Mysore! I didn’t really think anything of this until a couple of people remarked how uncommon it is to get Kapotasana on your first visit. One of them was my teacher who suggested it must be down to his brilliant teaching!
Back in January I was actually craving a bit more intensity. I think for many of us there’s a desire to go deeper while we’re studying here – we have come to the source after all. Before I came several people told me it’s not a holiday but after a few weeks of being here I felt inclined to disagree. I was doing fewer postures than back home, I was practising much later than usual, I didn’t have to go to work every day, and I could swan about doing fun things like shopping, sightseeing and lounging by the pool. Sounds like a holiday to me!
Well, all I can say is January is long gone. In fact even February seems a long time ago now. This feels like the real deal. My weekday practice just got moved to 6am, with Friday and Sunday led classes both at 4.30am. So I’m going to the shala in the dark, practising for the full 90 minutes, and then trying to fit in chanting classes, Sanskrit lessons, philosophy talks, kirtans and massages. Not to mention all the blog writing, self-study, leaving lunches and all-important shopping that needs to be done (mostly for presents I might add).
So the most important thing I need to remember right now is to go easy on myself. It can be tough and this practice can take it out of you sometimes. Generally it’s because you’re going through an opening or you need a reminder of something, so it’s good to just stop and listen once in a while. To just be on your own with your thoughts and listen to what your body and heart are telling you (don’t listen to your mind though – that usually talks rubbish). I have a tendency to be too hard on myself sometimes so this is a great opportunity for me to practice ahimsa (non-violence) towards myself.
I also find it helpful to stay organised, which luckily for me is something I’m pretty good at! Sharath actually said during last week’s conference that you should have a schedule for each day – when to eat, sleep, practice, study, etc. – because sadhana (practice) requires tapas (discipline). So for the first time in weeks I’ve started planning again. I think I had an aversion to it before because it felt too much like work, but recently I’ve found that planning when and how to fit in all the things I want and need to do has actually been fun, as well as kept me focussed, disciplined and organised. For the first time in ages I feel productive, energised and engaged, which is a great feeling – especially in this heat!
Now that I’m going deeper into my backbending, Sharath seems more hellbent than ever on trying to get me to reach my ankles during dropbacks. The day he gave me Kapotasana he did dropbacks with me and, after telling me to “Walk! Walk! Walk!” with my hands, my fingers happened upon some toes. When I came up he said “That was my feet, I cheated you!” Ha ha! Sometimes he’s the most hilarious person in the world 🙂