I am sitting here in Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, waiting for my connection. There's more than 2 hours to go before my flight, so I thought I'll take the time to blog some more.
I'll share some observations here from my mysore experience at Kino's workshop this past weekend. A lot happened during the mysore sessions at this workshop (which is why this post is only Part I; Part II is coming soon :-)) There were two sessions, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Which is really cool, because I felt that I got to work with Kino more than during the Chicago workshop back in October, which had one mysore session.
Generally, I felt more grounded and at ease this time around, probably because: (1) Ashtanga Yoga Richmond is a much smaller studio than Moksha Yoga in Chicago, so there wasn't so much of that kind of crazy energy that you get when you have, like, a hundred people trying to do mysore at the same time. Things somehow felt more relaxed and laid-back here (being in the South helps too, I guess), (2) I have already worked with Kino previously, so there wasn't such a strong drive to impress (for more details about this, see my guest post on Claudia's blog detailing my experience at the Chicago workshop).
Anyway, on both days, I did what I usually do in my home practice (full primary and second up to pincha mayurasana). The really nice thing about having practiced by myself all these months is that my pratyahara (ability to withdraw my senses from the external environment) is much stronger than before. For most of the practice on both days, I just went through whatever I was doing, with a few adjustments from Kino here and there. Mostly, I was able to focus on my breathing and drishti, and not get distracted by what others were doing around me.
Except when people around me were experiencing kapotasana drama. To be sure, kapotasana is a very challenging posture, and most of us experience drama of some sort or other when we get to this posture in the practice. But I cannot help thinking that some people's kapo-dramas are more obvious and, uh, dramatic than others'. At this workshop at least, it seems that there were a few cases where the kapo-drama was so obvious and dramatic that I just couldn't help noticing it (or maybe my pratyahara needs more work...). So even though it's kind of sacrilegious to be talking about one's observations of other people's practices during mysore, I'm going to just report what I couldn't help observing despite my best pratyahara efforts. This is what happened with at least a few Ashtangis during mysore this weekend when they got to kapo:
(1) Ashtangi gets to kapotanasana, and basically freezes there in a kneeling position.
(2) Kino comes by, and asks, "Kapotasana?" Ashtangi nods or says yes.
(3) Kino then asks, "Have you tried getting into kapo by yourself?" In more than a few cases, the Ashtangi would say, "no". In one case, the Ashtangi actually said, "I've never ever gotten into kapo by myself before." In this particular case, the Ashtangi in question was right behind me, so I think my pratyahara failure can be excused :-p
(4) Kino: "Why don't you try getting into kapo by yourself a couple of times first? Then I'll come back and help you." Ashtangi agrees (like she has a choice, right?), and gingerly tries kapo a couple of times on her own.
(5) Kino comes back, and assists the Ashtangi in kapo. I couldn't see what was going on, but I can certainly hear the drama. Basically, this consists of Kino assisting and giving verbal instructions ("bring your hips/pelvis forward"), and repeating in a deeper-than-usual and powerful voice, "Crawl your fingers, crawl... keep crawling." Sometimes, this is also punctuated by grunts on the part of the Ashtangi. On one occasion, I can almost swear that I heard giggling (Gee, it's actually possible to giggle in kapo? I guess I'm learning something all the time...)
I know this is kind of evil, blogging about other people's kapo dramas. Actually, I have my own kapo dramas as well, but most of it is in my head. Personally, I try to externalize as little as possible; in my personal experience with postures, the more you externalize your internal dramas, the bigger and worse it gets.
I later learnt from Kino that her policy of adjusting in kapo is that she insists that people give the posture at least two tries themselves before she steps in to adjust. The reason, she told me, is because she believes that ultimately,the strength and flexibility to do the posture needs to come from within. If people get adjusted all the time, they won't have opportunities to cultivate this strength and flexibility.
Which means that I never got any kapo adjustments from Kino. On both days, I simply hung back and opened my chest for a few breaths until I could see the tips of my toes in the edge of my vision, which is basically the same thing that I do during my home practice. And then I dove and got my heels. Which means I didn't have to do kapo a second time. In fact, on both days, Kino barely even noticed that I did kapo. On the first day, for instance, as i was preparing for Supta Vajrasana (the posture immediately after kapo), Kino asked, "Have you done kapo?" I said yes. And then she asked, "You grabbed your heels?" I said yes again, and smiled in a way that probably came across as being more than a little smug (ego...).
From reading this post, you might easily get the impression that my mysore experience at this workshop was very effortless. Well, this is far from the truth. In an upcoming post, I will relate my mysore struggles in this workshop. Stay tuned.