How a Snake becomes a CrocodileWe awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain. It is Wednesday and were definitely moving a bit slow this morning. All packed up for practice we put on our rain coats and got out our umbrellas and began the walk uphill through the muddy alleyway between the houses. The hard rain coming down forms a little river that flows through the alley and we are careful to navigate around the cow patties and rocks. And so todays’ adventure begins… A man named Ulhas has been driving us each day to the shala. Ulhas is a very helpful and friendly Indian man and most importantly he is quite a punctual driver! He shows up promptly at 6:30am and awaits our arrival with open doors and a large smile. There are so few tourists here during this time of year that he seems very happy to have the regular fare. He takes us along the road from Candolim up toward Anjuna and then just a bit further up to Vagator. It takes approximately 20 minutes every day which is actually a great ride because it gives a chance to see the locals engaging in their morning rituals.
Exiting the vehicle upon arrival the blue Shiva statue greets us on our way into the shala. We promptly take off all of our rain gear and step up the 3 steps to the raised practice space. Rolf and Marci arrive at 7:00am. Right now there are about 10-14 students practicing each day. During the busy dry season it is said that Rolf and Marci have about 130 people practicing Mysore in four shifts of about 35 each shift running for about 5-6 hours daily! I say all of this for one, to point out how remarkable it is that they have this many students who travel from all around the globe to study with them and second that there are so few students with him during monsoon. We feel quite lucky to be getting so much personal attention! All of this special help is extending our practice time to between 2 1/2 to 3 hours each day. Both challenging and amazing. Some of the more difficult postures that we will normally gloss over a bit when practicing on our own have now become intense explorations of discovery. Discovery of how we tend to compensate by using areas which are strong to mask and avoid areas which are untapped and weak. Much to our delight (I think) Rolf and Marci have this knack for seeing this right away from anywhere in the room and immediately get us to target the areas we are avoiding and then persist with this development to the point of shear exhaustion. And just when you think you have made your way through the posture thoroughly they will say,”O.K. let’s try that again… O.K. you practice this one or two more times by yourself and then I will come over and help you once more!” Oh Joy!!
Today, Tamara went into Bhekasana(Frog pose) for the 3rd try and right when she came out of it I heard Rolf say, “Tamara, you do again, I come and help you.” I started to laugh and she looked to me laughing as well as if to say, you laugh now, it is your turn next! In second series, Karandavasana is Duck posture, this pose in my opinion is the nemesis pose to all Ashtangi’s. You go up into a forearm balance of Feather of a Peacock. Then fold your legs into lotus pose while balancing. Then slowly round your spine while gently landing your shins onto the upper arm bones. From there you hold for 5 breaths. Next is the clincher… lift the lotus above the hips and unfold the lotus back into forearm balance. Only to gracefully land into chaturanga. I imagine this to be like climbing the Himalayas just within these few vinyasas. I have been working on this pose for several years now and am feeling slow progress but still much exploration is needed! Fortunately for me Rolf is gifted in adjusting this pose. I worked with this pose for a while and soon my arms felt like noodles cooked in hot sauce… burning and limp. The next pose is Nakrasana (Crocodile pose) and as I am giving it my best Rolf yelled out, “it is crocodile pose not SNAKE pose!!” This got the whole room to chuckle a bit. Add to this that there are numerous baby kittens moving about the room and they love to climb on top of you while you are in postures, this also adds a little bit of humor to it all. These animals I do not mind, however the many ants and mosquitos swarming I could do without! Great opportunity to exercise inner focus and mind over matter. With the rain there is much humidity and so much sweat that there is literally more water dripping off of our bodies than there is landing on the floor from the leaky roof. After all is done for today. We roll up our mats with a sense of amazement. Mysore practice is truly amazing as it allows us to work individually yet within a framework that is so solid and sound. This practice comes from a tradition of excellence and this is yoga as practiced in India! There is much to be said for Tradition!!!