Now I know why I was a home Ashtangi for so long, nowhere to hide in the shala.
First week of full primary in god knows how long, I've added on up to kapo onto my Primary occasionally but it's been forever since I practiced the full series day after day after relentless day. And thenat Kristina, there are extras, hanumansana after the Prasarita's as well as samakonasana ( which I worked on in 2011 fro a while but not since). Then what else, standing trivikramasana after the utthita hasta padangusthasana subroutine then there is the handstand work, the flip over back and forth eventually down to urdhvanadhaurasana and back, the old backbend routine with the arms crossed over the chest as your dropped back to your head then half dropped back for five, the settling down to your elbows to take your heels then come back up, all old school stuff (some sight difference these days I believe, just as challenging). Oh and no more rest poses, I used to take it easy in the 2nd series twists, not any more, Kristina is on you like a short and takes you in another 360 degrees and then another 360, at least it feels that way. I did manage to skip the old style back bend routine this morning, slipped disc a bit of a bugger this morning. And I'm having it easy, I have friends here doing full primary plus all of the above minus the last couple of 2nd series postures
This shala really is a remarkable place, Kristina is remarkable, eyes on the back, side, top of her head as well as sixth sense, she misses nothing. As well as the regulars she has those of us who turn up for an extended stay of a week to a few months, respectful of our practice she is still offering suggestions and you find your self taking most of them on board... if she respects you and your practice so much you end up wanting to return the favour and at least try out, work through, her suggestions and run with them for awhile, there is wisdom here. Her husband Derek had a phenomenal practice, a great teacher supposedly (you only have to look at his long list of students, great teachers now themselves) just as she is in her own right, every now and then she'll give a passing demonstration, even if she's just demonstrating an uttanasana I can't help be struck by how deep and earthy a practice she has, EVERYTHING is contained in her uttanasana.
Nothing is missed, we have some beginners here, some who have been coming for a year some for perhaps ten or more and she slips from one pedagogic mode to the other. I remember back in my old Aikido days we had an exercise where you would have three opponents rush at you, one was bare handed, the next had a baton, the third a wooden knife, you job was to respond to each attacker with appropriate force and technique, after you would throw them they would come again and again and again, the idea was that you didn't use any effort of your own it was all techniques using your opponents force agains them. As well as those of us on 2nd or 3rd series she leads the beginners through their first surynamaskaras, but she also has ears for her wonderful assistant Nikos, if he gives an instruction she feels is unclear or misleading she is over like a shot with clarification, I'm envious of his apprenticeship. Don't tell me your authorised, it means nothing to me, just tell me who your apprenticeship was with and for how long. But then perhaps seven years in a shala counts as an apprenticeship of sorts, is it the same, close enough?
So my previous post playing around with the idea of endurance, of training, I had a commentator on fb mention that it was like gym, not sure he had actually read the post as I was actually writing about devotion, stoic submission but hey, it got me thinking. Gym...... gymnasium, the gymnasium had a profound place in Ancient greek society, it refers to a place of naked practice, the greeks used to practice their exercises naked, should remind you too of the old yogi's that Alexander met on his incursions into India, referred to as the gymnosophists, the naked philosophers. The gymnasium was not only a place of physical exercise but of the mind and of the spirit, moral and social education took place there too, think of the link between asana and yama and niyama, perhaps they do go hand in hand. With a physical practice the heightened sense of the body perhaps we need the moral education to go with it, a spiritual aspect of practice to counter or compliment the senses or perhaps we just need to embody the flights of fancy that the mind takes, purusha and prakriti, don't focus on one at the expense of the other, perhaps they need to be reflected back and forththe one upon the other.
"The ancient Greek gymnasium soon became a place for more than exercise. This development arose through recognition by the Greeks of the strong relation between athletics, education and health. Accordingly, the gymnasium became connected with education on the one hand and medicine on the other. Physical training and maintenance of health and strength were the chief parts of children's earlier education. Except for time devoted to letters and music, the education of young men was solely conducted in the gymnasium, where provisions were made not only for physical pedagogy but for instruction in morals and ethics. As pupils grew older, informal conversation and other forms of social activity took the place of institutional, systematic discipline. Since the gymnasia were favorite resorts of youth, they were frequented by teachers, especially philosophers. Philosophers and sophists frequently assembled to hold talks and lectures in the gymnasia; thus the institution became a resort for those interested in less structured intellectual pursuits in addition to those using the place for training in physical exercises." Wikipedia on Ancient gymnasium
My friend Digby who runs Stonemonkey in Leamington Spa just sent me some pictures from my Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama workshop last month. Loved this workshop, thank you so much to everybody who came, covered a lot in a day and are discussing a second day possibly in November to look at the second half of Krishnamacharya's primary and perhaps Ramaswami's Asymmetric vinyasa Krama serties that leads nicely to half and full lotus and/or leg behind head work.
|Me and Digby and that's Michelle's Vayu, see the link at the top right of the blog|
|Thank you to my practice partner Joelle for this one|
The original Stonemonkey poster outlining the program for the day