Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thoughts, In Order, From A Weekend Ashtanga Intensive

This instructor has gigantic feet. Like, Sideshow Bob-sized.

I am the least-experienced person here.

I don't care if I am the least-experienced person here, the instructor just asked who here didn't know how to find her bandhas and I am absolutely going to raise my hand.

And I am the only person who raised her hand.

Bandhas are awesome!

And ha! Now other people are raising their hands and asking the instructor to help them find their bandhas!

Oh--that's why Lululemon sells "yoga thongs." (I wonder about my own panty lines for about two seconds and then decide not to care.)

Mula bandha uses the same muscles as holding in a fart. I think that's why I seem to take naturally to it.

(Then we start the Primary Series, and my brain stops churning around so much. Mostly it thinks "I love yoga," if it thinks anything at all.)

(Later, when we are working on jump-backs/jump-throughs:)

All of the best students are in the front rows, and they're all wearing Lululemon. And all of the students having difficulty are in the back rows, and they're all--like me--wearing generic "yoga pants" and t-shirts. It's strange that there's not at least one student up at the front wearing an old t-shirt. Is there a correlation between people who have long, flexible hamstrings and people who have both the means and the desire to spend $150 on a pair of Lululemon yoga pants?

They have better hair than I do, too; the women up at the front in their Lululemon. They have better hair and better clothes and fantastic hamstrings.

I wonder if it's a class thing; they're all my age or younger, but they're more advanced at Ashtanga than I am because they started taking it earlier. And they started taking it earlier because they had the opportunity to take it earlier; and that means they came from a position of social or economic privilege, which means of course they would choose the $150 yoga pants.

But that's being presumptuous (and mean). Maybe it's a value thing; at this point the people in the front rows value their yoga practice so much that to do it in anything other than the best athletic wear would be to do it a disservice. But does that mean that those of us in the back value this class less? Or value ourselves less? That doesn't make any sense; and yet the truth of the matter is that the people in the front have expensive yoga gear and great hamstrings and the people in the back have old t-shirts and difficult hamstrings and there has got to be a reason why.

Why do I have short, inflexible hamstrings? Is it my genetics or my personality? And if I practice for a bazillion years will I ever be able to lift my leg over my head?

I am so grateful whenever the instructor comes to work on my body. He could be spending more time up at the front with the Lululemon crowd, but he seems to like working in the back rows best.

(During the passive stretching exercises:)

Damn it, I didn't feel any pain until the instructor said "don't pay attention to the pain!"

Now it really hurts.

Really, really hurts.


"If you try to run away from pain, the pain will never go away. You have to face it head-on and confront it and then it will start to go away slowly. This is advice for all aspects of your life." This is uncomfortably true. Now I'm sweating, in pain, trying to cheat by adjusting my weight to get out of the pain, making the pain worse, and remembering the times in my life where I avoided confrontation and everything turned out worse off for the avoidance.

This is the part of yoga intensive where I feel like a complete failure.

(And at the end, during the question-and-answer period:)

So this instructor started Ashtanga in "middle age" and has only been doing it for ten years? That means that when I'm 37 I could be that awesome. And on Third Series. (Never mind that I have been steadily working on Marichyasana D for two months and still haven't progressed past it.)

Wait--most Ashtangis, including teachers, don't actually practice full series every day, six days a week? This is the part of yoga intensive where I feel like... well, for better or worse, I do get up and meet my mat every day. Which puts me ahead of most other students, apparently. (Never mind that I have been steadily working on Marichyasana D for two months and still can't make my fingers touch.)

Is the natural path for a talented yoga student to evolve into a yoga teacher? This instructor never did yoga until he started Ashtanga ten years ago and now he's teaching it; and half of the advanced students are training to be teachers. I love Ashtanga but I don't think I'd ever want to go into the teaching track; my years of teaching piano lessons have de-romanticized the whole concept.

Everyone is going out for a party now. My workplace needs me to come in and work on a project this evening, so I don't go. Very disappointing. But I like my job, and I want to do the best at my job that I can do, so... off to work!

I have got to get myself a yoga thong.


nycashtangi said...

if its any consolation it took me two years to get Mari c and then after i finally got it , it went away for almost another year. Mari c is now back but mari d i can only do with assistance. make sure to really pay attention during any standing pose twists...

the class, status thing in ashtanga has always bothered me. i'm pretty poor but save my pennies to go to a studio where there are a lot of affluent folk. it's hard not to let that rile me up sometimes.

anyway remember
practice and all is coming!


Blue said...

Thanks! I guess for me I have to remember that the practice isn't just about accomplishing the latest posture; it's about deepening all of the postures in between. ^__^

Yay practice!