Wednesday, September 5, 2007


So Jesse started a vicious rumor on the YYTT07 chat group that he has never seen a class so close to mutiny as my advanced class last night. And the whole time I thought those people were having FUN!

Here is what we practiced. I call it "How the standing poses can teach us arm balances:
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Surya Namaskar A 3X
Prasarita Paddotanasana
Parsva Sirsasana
Parsvaikapada Sirsasana
Ardha Chandrasana
Parivritta parsvakonasana
Eka pda koundinyasana 1
Urdhva prasarita eka padasana
utthita hasta padangusthasana
eka pada koundinyasana 2
Setu banhdasana

Everyone did so well and gave such excellent effort it was a joy to watch. I even had some visitors who were "slumming" from Ashtanga Yoga Land so that was fun. (Please do not be offended- I am teasing myself on that one, not the Ashtangi's.) Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practitioners are so strong and disciplined they are always great fun to teach and to have in class.

What was also very cool was to see how Suki and Kristen (who were YYTT students last year and in my classes a lot) were just busting out the arm balances like they were no big deal. I remember when they were just learning them. And so watching Pamela and Jesse (and others)begin to put the pieces together was fun for me because I know that if they keep with it, the arm balances will soon become no big deal at all to them.

After class Pamela said that when you first see those poses you think to yourself, "No way." Then you begin to glimpse them and you start to think that maybe they are possible after all. And then one day, you are actually doing what you thought was impossible only a few short months ago. Pamela had a totally solid eka pada koundinyasana last night, when just the day before in San Marcos it was a little shaky.

So there it is. The trajectory of learning. From "No way", to "maybe", to "look at me!" And the cool thing is not the pose itself. It is that fact that mastering the advanced postures can help each one of us realize that we can, through skillful effort and long-standing practice, grow stronger, more capable, and more masterful in our lives. Practicing what seems to be impossible can help us face what seems to be impossible off our mats. From the mundane tasks of endurance to the more heroic feats of life's many challenging circumstances.

So- standing poses teach us arm balances and arm balances teach us how to live more fully. Something like that. So, please do not mutiny- keep coming to that class and keep attempting the impossible until you find yourself shocked at yourself and your own ability.


Anasazi said...

Darn it. I knew I didn't phrase that right. It was late when I wrote that and I didn't take enough care to couch it in the context it needed. No, there was no imminent "mutiny," just an occasional whimper and a groan from the back corner I was practicing. It really was a great class, and I just love having the opportunity to work on these poses. I appreciate the opportunities you present us with to work on some of these more advanced forms. I'm sure they come up in Ashtanga regularly, but I've never encountered most of them before in other regular Hatha classes.

The surpring thing, for me, is that some of these arm balances are not quite as hard as they look. Given that I couldn't even approximate some of them last month, I was surprised that I was able to get into a sort of half-version of the poses last night. I'm learning that asana practice is about 10% strength and flexibility and 90% willpower and intention. Who would'a thunk it?

I will most certainly be returning to the Anusara pirate ship, Cap'n. Over and over again. There'll be no mutinies on my watch. Arr.

Christina Sell said...

And for the record I knew Jesse was kidding. And he is right- there was a lot of groaning and a few expletives uttered that night. And perhpas a few sweaty faces that might have looked like they were crying...

Jeri said...

This was a huge blessing for me to read. I am taking baby steps to baby dancer among many others. Really helps to know others more advanced than me are also in a discovery process. I'm thinking that probably never changes. Best, Jeri