Saturday, September 21, 2013

Self Practice at Lino's workshop, Saturday September 21st

It's now about 9:20 a.m. in Bozeman, MT. About an hour ago, I finished self practice with Lino and his assistants at his workshop here at the Ashtanga Yoga School of Montana, and am now chilling and writing this post in a coffeeshop.

Self practice a.k.a. Mysore was good. Lino seems to be a very unassuming, no-nonsense kind of person, and he and his assistants do a very good job of working the room and giving adjustments/assists. I got a few interesting adjustments. In addition to the de rigueur adjustment in downward dog that pretty much everybody gets in the Suryas, I also got a few interesting pointers:

(1) In Surya B, one of Lino's assistants stopped me and asked me to redo both Utkatasana and Virabhadrasana A again, and told me that the arms should sweep outward to the sides as they arc up to the final overhead position. Over the last couple of years, I have gotten used to kind of just moving the arms straight up overhead from my torso, mainly for fear of hitting the person next to me if I sweep my arms out to the side. I wonder if there is some kind of anatomical or energetic effect that one can get from sweeping the arms out to the side that one can't get from simply moving them straight up overhead from the torso. Hmm... maybe I'll ask Lino during this afternoon's Q & A.

(2) In Padahastasana, Lino came over and asked me to get out of the posture. He then informed me that my feet were too wide in this pose; without being really conscious of it, my feet have been way wider than hips width in this posture. He told me that the feet should not be wider than the hips. Point taken :-)

(3) As this was my very first time practicing in front of Lino, I decided to just do full primary today. I assumed that also meant that for backbending, I should just do three Urdhva Dhanurasanas, then go into Paschimottanasana. Which is what I did.

But I suppose I should have known better than to think I can get away so easy. When I was in Sarvangasana (shoulderstand), Lino came over, pointed to my feet, and said, "Down! Down!" At first, I thought he meant that my feet were too far over my head in shoulderstand, and that he wanted me to move my feet so that they were more in line with my shoulders. So I tried to follow accordingly, and moved my feet as much above my shoulders as possible without having to get out of shoulderstand. But he still said, "Down! Down!" Which was when I realized that he wanted me to exit shoulderstand altogether. So I exited shoulderstand, and got to my feet. This is roughly how the conversation proceeded from this point: 

Lino: "Did you do three dropbacks and standups?"

Nobel [Ha! Busted!]: "No...I did three UDs and then Paschimottanasana."

Lino: "Okay. Now you do three dropbacks and standups. When you are finished, then you cross your hands in front of your chest like this [he showed me the crossed-hands-in-front-of chest position], and wait for me to come drop you back."

Nobel: "Yes." [What would have happened if I said no, I wonder?...]

So I did as he instructed. And after the three dropbacks and standups, he came over, dropped me back halfway five times. On the fifth time, I dropped my hands all the way to the ground, and he stood me up. And then I went into Paschimottanasana. End of story.

I've noticed that this workshop has attracted a lot of people from all over North America. I drove four-and-a-half hours to get here from Idaho. I noticed somebody who had driven here from Arizona, which is at least ten hours away. And a few other people drove eight hours from Saskatchewan, Canada. Which is not all that surprising, considering Lino's stature as a senior teacher, and the fact that he doesn't come to North America all that often.

That's all I have to say for now. I'm probably going to chill here for a few more hours till this afternoon's pranayama and Q&A session. Maybe I'll visit the used bookstore next door. Bozeman is a really nice town to visit. More later.          


  1. Hi Nobel,

    I am catching up on your blog posts. Thanks for sharing your experience with Lino. I found that fascinating. Regarding the arms out in Utkatasana, Sharath does extend his arms to the side before meeting, but Kino does them in the same manner as you. Like you, going straight up seemed most natural to me as a deterrent to hitting practitioners beside you.

    I would love to hear an authorized teacher's view on this. I have read that any sweeping both forward or to the side is seen as superfluous by one teacher. In the end, I wonder if it's just personal preference. Perhaps one teacher was taught outward sweeping, and the other straight up by Guruji?

  2. Came to comment about the arms up variation as well. Moving the arms out and up seems inefficient while moving the arms up in a straight path to their final over head position makes sense to me. I think we should strive to remove excess movements/fidgets ect from our practice and don't see it being any different in this case.