"O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
So to seduce!"
Did I mention that there is such an atmosphere of industry, of work going on in Kristina's Rethymno Shala? I'm starting to understand why, this is a summer shala, in winter Kristina goes back to Athens and teaches at Shala's there. The comparisons with Mysore are even more apparent, people come here for anything from a couple of weeks to three months and often come back year after year.
Because they are here for limited period everyone seems to want to make the most of their time here, bringing their best practice every day, working on more postures, deepening the ones they have.
And Kristina may well move you along, give or offer you the next posture and then the next. Manju comes here every year and doesn't believe in holding people back for long periods of time, if you struggle with binding in Marchi D, no problem keep working on it each day but take the next posture. That said I've also seen Kristina keep somebody who's here for a couple of weeks on half Primary for a few weeks, focusing on some basics on building strength before then moving them quickly along to the next few postures.
It's tempting to get caught up in that, with my mat colleagues working so hard and moving briskly through all Primary followed by most of 2nd (and at full vinyasa) there was the temptation for me to work a little harder myself and start adding on 3rd series, felt like I was coasting a little.
So Wednesday I practiced full 2nd then added on 3rd up to Urdhva Kukkutasana C and on Thursday I practiced up to Purna Matsyendrasana....
I was seduced I tell ya, Vilma Bánky, to Ashtanga's Rudolph Valentino.
Advanced series, it always made me think and question my practice..... below is my fb status update from the Friday
'This question keeps coming back and giving me pause. Is there a historical disconnect between method and practice, a method for learning asana and transforming the body but then what ? How do you practice the asana once you've learned them, how many asana to practice, which ones, how long to stay, how slow to breathe, how long a kumbhaka, how fully engaged the bandha(s), where to focus the internal drishti. If we sacrifice the kumbhaka, stay for such a short time, don't make the inhalation and exhalation as long and as slow as possible....., doesn't it at times seem a waste of perfectly good asana'.
And then I remembered why I came to Crete, I have no real interest in new postures, in handstands or tic tacks (although grabbing my heels tickles my fancy occasionally), I came to ground my 2nd series, to tidy it up, my Primary too. I wanted to make my Intermediate series comfortable again such that I could start exploring Krishnamacharya's use of kumbhaka in the 2nd series postures when I got home, just as I had been doing in Primary series for the last year. If I'm coasting a little, If I'm mostly in my comfort zone with the asana then that's a good thing, it's time to explore the breath, slow it, lengthen it, prepare for kumbhaka for dharana (which vital point do we focus on in kapotasana, in pinca?.
And who needs new postures when Kristina can help you to rediscover the ones you have, my 2nd series 'rest postures', now feel, exciting, fresh and new, they feel like.... asana. My Intermediate series is coming ever more alive, ahh the floating mula bandha of gomukhasana.....like the floating mountain islands of Avatar.
I started this post over the weekend, since then my back has been playing up again. Slipped a disc moving house last month, all those boxes of books. First couple of weeks here were painful, last week not so bad this weekend painful again, plus my knee ( old old injury) playing up, usually it's winter, "What Crete not hot enough for you knee"?
Yesterday I practiced up to Eka pads Sirsasana and decided the leg behind head work was a bad idea, this morning I practiced up to the Marichi's, not even half Primary, before deciding to move to finishing. There was a moment when I thought about picking up my mat and going back to my studio/room to practice some Vinyasa Krama, with it's greater flexibility and more options but decided I would just milk finishing for all it was worth, nice long shirsasana.
And what does it matter, we can hurry through our practice giving the merest nod to Standing and finishing and those postures we've come to think of as boring, no longer interesting, or we can savour our standing and finishing sequences, fall in love with them all over again and do half, even a quarter of a series.... is kapotansa any more value then trikonasana or Supter konasana of more benefit than janu sirsasana?
Hmmmm, actually that might depend on what your body needs that day.
So a minimal practice and yet I'm enjoying it, quite happy to have a long slow Standing sequence, happy to stop early and give much more time to finishing. Injuries... so what, there are so many postures in our standing, finishing and whichever series we are on that we are bound to find many that we CAN do and we can relish those we have left, savour them, make the most of the opportunity to explore them with the more time available.
Kristina asked me if I was OK, if I was happy....
I'm here in Crete with nothing else to do between these incredible sunrises and sunsets but my practice and to study/explore yoga. Yes, I'm happy, very happy ( in the sense of content, always been uncomfortable with the word 'Happy', Aristotle has a lot to answer for).
And tonight I'm teaching in the shall, Krishnamacharya's own (late) practice with long slow breathing and kumbhaka, dharana on vital points, pranayama, pratyhara...