Saturday, January 7, 2012

A little mysore practice report (and a plug)

This morning, I went to mysore practice at my friends Derek's and Brenda's studio in downtown Fargo. This is only the third mysore class in this area. The first class happened when Derek's and Brenda's teacher Casey Palmer came here to teach a workshop back in October (see this post). When Casey was here, he suggested to us that we start a regular rhythm of having mysore classes here in Fargo-Moorhead, even if just once a week. It doesn't matter if just a couple of people show up. The important thing is to start something and keep it going no matter what. Heeding Casey's suggestion, Derek and Brenda started the first mysore class at their studio last Saturday (New Year's Eve).

I was occupied with something last week, and couldn't make the class. Yesterday, I was going through a little internal struggle with myself whether to come to mysore this morning or not. I am still either modifying or taking more time to get into a number of the postures in primary that involve half-lotus variations, and the idea of doing this in "public" makes me self-conscious. Of course, most of you out there who do your practice at a shala will probably be laughing at me right now and thinking: But isn't this the point of mysore practice? If you can't come to mysore as you are, and do your actual practice as it is (with modifications and whatnot), then what good is mysore practice? Indeed, being able to accept that one needs to do whatever practice works for one and do it honestly no matter where one is is the practice in and of itself. Anything else is just maya and ego. Easy enough to say, but I still had to struggle with my ego nonetheless. Finally, when I woke up this morning, I managed to tell myself that I will just walk in there, do my practice, do whatever modifications and take however much time I need to get into the offending postures in question, and that will be it. And I guess it helps that I always take off my glasses when I practice, so I won't see anybody looking at me.

If you know anything about what goes on in mysore classes, you will know that all of the above is just stuff going on in my head (chitta vrttis, as Yoga Sutra 1.2 puts it). When I arrived at the studio, there were about 20 people in the room. More than half were "newbies" who were not familiar with the sequence. So Derek and Brenda were running around telling them what to do next, and none of them had the time or space to be looking at what I was doing anyway. Even if they did, I wouldn't know, as the mysore room was very dimly lit, and I wasn't wearing my glasses :-) (I am very nearsighted). In fact, they were so busy running around helping people that they forgot to do the opening invocation till I was way into the practice; I had to jump out of Janu Sirsasana C into Samasthihi in order to join everybody for the opening invocation! I think that would have been a Youtube moment right there, if anybody had a video camera...

So now you know what a self-absorbed egotistical person I am. I wonder how I'll survive Mysore/KPJAYI/Sharath, when I make it there (I know my ego won't...). Anyway, while I'm at it, I may as well make a plug here for our mysore community here in Fargo-Moorhead. If you live in Fargo-Moorhead (or if you ever are visiting here), please think about joining our Saturday morning mysore class (what the heck is mysore? See this for more details.) It's every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at Ecce Art and Yoga. Maybe I'll see you (or you'll see me) there? :-)


  1. Hi Nobel
    I had to open a map to see where Fargo-Moorhead is(:

    I think if I'd see someone doing modifications in mysore class I'd be fine with that;)

     I had a couple of ashtangis in my class who were doing modifications during led class due to injuries. Now I'm kind of in their shoes I don't do modifications but I take my time in some half lotus/full lotus asanas I mean taking it really slow with my left knee.
    Since I'm a stay-home-ashtangi sometimes I have an urge to go and practice with people but what terrifies me is the pace of a led class and some adjustments too.
    I'm happy with my home solitude but I'm thinking about Kino's upcoming workshop at the end of this year and there is a big question would I be able to keep up with the pace having a needy knee!?
    Pretty much the same question as you have surfaced "how I'll survive Mysore/KPJAYI/Sharath, when I make it there" I guess whatever happens there we should still be alive or what doesn't kill us makes us stronger:)))

  2. Yes, I suppose it is true that whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger ;-) About Kino's workshop, I think you should be able to keep up with the pace if you are able to let go of the idea that you need to get into the full expression of every pose (given the pace of led primary, you may not have enough time to get into half-lotus/full lotus on the left side if you need to use extra breaths). It's probably also helpful to speak with Kino about this before the class.

    And of course, during the mysore session, you can take as much time as you need. :-) Kino actually has some very useful tips for working into lotus/half-lotus with a knee in less-than-perfect condition.

    Where is this workshop with Kino that you are thinking of going to? Just curious.

  3. Kino will be having a workshop right here on the Gold Coast(Australia) in November this year.
    I like the idea of coming out of my solitude once a year to practice with a big ashtanga crowd:)
    Last time I've seen Kino in Mysore in 2006 Guruji was still teaching in the shala... thinking of that time brings lots of sweet memories to me:)
    Santina is organizing this workshop but I can't get hold of her at moment to ask all the questions.

  4. It's really great that Kino is going to teach in Australia. I hope you can make it.

    Speaking of Australia, I studied with Matthew Sweeney for a few days last summer when he came to Minneapolis to give a workshop. I wrote a few posts on this blog in which I described in some detail my experiences at the workshop. He's a great teacher. Have you studied with him before?

  5. I have studied with Matthew first in 2003 in Melbourne ans then I've moved to Byron bay the place where Matthew lived. In those days(2003-2005) there was a great ashtanga community with at least 3-4 places to go and practice every morning, not any more though.
     I use to come to Matthew's official classes at the studio and non-official in his garage where only 4 people could practice at a time:)))
     The funny thing was that his garage floor had a gentle slope so during the practice we were all gradually moving down towards the garage door. When I came there for the first time everyone was joking about it.

     He is a wonderful teacher I've learned a lot from him. Recently he had a workshop here on the Gold Coast but I didn't make it there.

  6. Wow... In 2003, I had not even started yoga (I started practicing yoga in 2005, and Ashtanga in 2009). It's really cool (and humbling) to learn that so many people have been practicing all this time.

    "The funny thing was that his garage floor had a gentle slope so during the practice we were all gradually moving down towards the garage door."

    This is hilarious! I can only imagine how *uphill* doing chakrasana must feel in that garage.

  7. Yeh! That garage was a legend:))

    I had started yoga in 2000 and then in 2003 was my first 6 month trip to India that's when I fall in love with Ashtanga. There is a teacher in Mysore his name is Sheshadri I started with him and only later made it to the big shala.

  8. Interesting. I have heard of both Sheshadri and Venkatesh (especially the later, who is supposed to be some kind of a backbend king), but do not know that much about them.