I've no idea how to go about blogging about my own workshop or whether I should even make the attempt but I promised, usually workshop posts are reviews from those attending rather than from the perspective of somebody presenting the workshop, I partly feel I have no place writing about it but seeing as I'm still blogging, just, it would be a shame to avoid the opportunity. But how to start....
Disruptive to those who attend, who are giving up their mornings and afternoons, no doubt their regular practice for the period of the workshop. That's something to remember, we don't sacrifice our practice easily. We don't tend to attend workshops for the social aspect, certainly not in Ashtanga, the workshops tend to be for the sake of our practice, to help us develop it, explore it, deepen it somehow, help us to understand it a little more perhaps but also perhaps, and going against all of the above, to become more present in our practice to not separate ourselves from it, to connect with it more. This practice, it's not something belonging to somebody else, it's our practice, the breath should remind us of this, we breathe our practice.
When we go to a workshop we are perhaps taking responsibility for our practice
It's disruptive to whoever is organising the Workshop, they too are giving up their weekends, often they don't even get a practice in ( if they are translating) or if they do then they have so many other things going on in their mind to worry about that I wonder if they can fully enjoy it. And they are also playing host of course, especially when somebody is visiting from abroad. Thank you to Janosch in Ulm and Oscar (and especially to Maria and the kids) in Leon, Cosmin and Andrea in Valencia. And of course it's not just the weekend of the workshop itself but all the planning and organising that leads up to it, the flyers to be made, the websites to set up, the enquiries to field, often the flights and accommodation to organise. At the end of it all, do they whisper quietly to themselves "never again".... until the next time.
And it's disruptive to the practice of whoever is giving the workshop, in this case myself. I've found for a week or so leading up to the workshop my mind keeps flipping out and looking objectively at what I am doing in my own practice, asking how would I teach/share/communicate this aspect, how would I set it up, make it more approachable.... palatable and then ask is this something I really need to include, or is this something obvious, intuitive, is it something to flag, draw attention to. Or you change your practice to work on something your presenting in the upcoming workshop, an aspect that perhaps you've already incorporated into your own practice, often unexpectedly, by accident or by some curious roundabout route ( one moment from a previous workshop you attended yourself perhaps), something that has come about organically but that you may have to find a way to introduce to somebody for the first time. Or you need to do homework, it's one thing practicing something, another presenting it. One thing practicing to a count another leading it. So it's disruptive before the workshop, certainly disruptive to your own practice during the workshop when you too have had to sacrifice your own practice, and then it's disruptive afterwards as you come back a little drained, mentally exhausted and attempt to slip back into your regular practice.
Why do we do it.....?
There was a moment in the last workshop....... we'd already explored the different hand and arm movements in tadasana in the morning session but here, in the afternoon, we were attempting a 'model Vinyasa Krama practice'. I got the basic pace of arm movements started then suggested that they all continue for the next ten minutes with the different movements as they remembered them and whichever they preferred to practice ( there are lots of options, too many for a ten minute segment of a practice). I walked to the back of the room and watched and I saw all ten doing different variations/options but with the same slow movements and long slow breathing. Ramaswami taught me this approach to tadasana in LA, Krishnamacharya taught him in turn in Chennai and here we were in Ulm Germany, the same slow movements, the breath, I wish I'd taken a photo of that, a short movie.... It was the same in sisrsasana in Leon when i stood back and watched everybody doing their own leg movements, long slow breathing. I'd do it again and again just for that moments like that or for the ten minutes in paschimottanasana, the three minute utkatasanas, the kumbhakas in Krishnamacharyas Primary that we had explored the morning before.....
We love our practice and Ramaswami says that if we love something that we have received, if it's important to us, if we feel it has taught us something then we should share it, offer it to others in return, make it available.
And we should offer it freely and without expectation, just because it works for me, is important to me, it may not be for you, may not be what you need right now, perhaps all it will do is make you appreciate elements of the practice you already have, that too is something.
It's such a joy to share this stuff, to see others engage with it, try it out, explore it a little, try it on for size.
The trick I guess is not to force it on others but just offer it up, less is more, get out of the way of the practice as much as possible and let it reveal itself.
Each time I've presented one of these workshops I've wanted to hurry home and practice..., as you try to share something with others you begin to see aspects yourself often for the first time, "...how is it I didn't notice that".
Krishnamacharya mentions this somewhere I think that you learn the most through teaching. When we seek to teach or rather share something we set up a space a clearing we en lighten our practice.
I hope it went well, I felt like I managed to keep out of the way of the practice a little more this time, allow Krishnamacharya and Ramaswami to work their magic.
And Ulm was beautiful of course, here are a couple of shots from the weekend
I was just rereading the John Scott interview in Le journal Le Yoga Shop paris
Kia:We continue to talk about the challenges that may arise from being a yoga practitioner and teacher, while raising a family and maintaining your responsibilities towards them and society...
John: ”I was lucky that I was 36 before becoming a husband and a dad. By that time I’d had nine years of practising with Guruji. Nine years of being a Bramacharya*. In the Indian system this continues up to 24 years of age. From age 24 to 48, Grihastha is the ’householder’ phase. In this phase you have done your practice so you are able to let it go and just do maintenance. So in the Indian system, by the time you are 24 and are moving into the phase of being a parent, you are no longer learning the practice, simply maintaining it. Those nine years of practice with Guruji were like putting money in the bank. I had built up the strength and stamina needed to teach this system.
The challenge in the west is that many people arrive in the practice already a ’householder’. If you are in that phase but still doing all that study and practising, it is, in a way, selfish. You are putting yourself before the rest of the family. That is the difficulty we have as westerners. I was so lucky I got those years of study without it affecting anybody else. So when I got to the phase of being a ’householder’, I was able to drop it all and slowly bring back a maintenance level of practice. By then I had 2 children and a wife who were dependent on me, so I had to travel more and teach more. It was tiring and I couldn´t practise when doing international workshops. I would get a few practices in between but it´s not until now that I´ve got the time and the space to become selfish again. Today with you, is actually the first time I´ve practised 3rd series in eight years!”
|group above from the Vinyasa Krama On one leg sequence|
|from the the Vinyasa Krama triangle sequence|
|from the meditative (?) sequence. meditative because it's built on vajrasana|
|Memmingen, one of my best practices ever here Monday morning, thank you, picture of a gate(way) seemed appropriate|
|Ulm, the Danube at night|
Here's a link to upcoming workshops in Ulm.
Next up in
Self Led Vinyasa with David Regelin in Ulm
Janosch is a big fan of David's and kept trying to explain his approach as physical origami, wish i could have stuck around a little longer to attend