Sweat Like There is No Tomorrow
5:00am ~ It was a full day to say the least. I am so lucky to have Tamara’s grandma living right here in Encinitas and for her to be sweet enough to have me as her guest while here. 5:00am start isn’t so bad really. It is an hour later than 4:00am so it is kind of like sleeping in.
6:00am ~ Pranayama with Tim. Back in the day when I first started practicing pranayama with Tim the other students used to make joke that it should be called suffocation class. In the “Traditional Ashtanga Pranayama” routine we practice breathing very rhythmically and using breath holdings after inhales and also exhales. First question is usually why would you want to do that? Patanjali says that it “removes the veil that hides the inner light.” All in all it helps to restore vitality to the nervous system. It also creates a situation that usually invokes panic and our job is to somehow override this panic and face the challenge with equanimity. When I practice pranayama on my own of course I don’t push the envelope so extreme. Tim is a master in pranayama however and what is easy for him is very advanced for beginners. And oh yes I feel like a beginner in the pranayama realm. Today I thought, just chill Todd, no big deal, you know the practice well, just be chill. For the first half of the routine I had the thought, perhaps I am starting to get this. I feel quite relaxed. Then it switched over into full on sweats over my whole body and a couple of cheats(sucking air in as quietly as possible) just to slide through. It was so awesome though. I love practicing pranayama with Tim! It is such a treat to have someone so good at something lead the pace and to try to keep up as best as possible.
7:00am ~ Mysore with Tim and assistants. 51 people squeezed in wall to wall, 3/4 of which practicing 2nd, 3rd and some 4th. The energy was through the roof! The focus of the group was so smooth and even it was a such a treat. I feel like I thrive in this environment. I also sweat so intensely and it got so hot in the room that I was completely drenched and it just kept pouring out of me. I made it through 2nd and a portion of 3rd and was so happy to make it to backbends. When someone left and opened the door it felt like a cool breeze of fresh energy washed over me and gave me one last burst before drop backs with Tim and into the finishing series. A nice long savasana or ‘take rest’ period and then peeled myself off the floor and outside into the beautiful 70 degree Encinitas air. Quite heavenly I must say. I love the morning vibe here so much.
9:00am Shower, laundry, breakfast, more green tea and a bit of rest. 🙂
12:00pm – 5:00pm ~ Teacher Training. Like all good trainings with Tim we start at the beginning. Here are a couple of observations:
Surya Namaskar A & B ~ Samasthitihi means “complete steadiness.” I like this translation. When moving through the vinyasa and we completed the 5th breath after the downward facing dog at 6, Guruji would always say Sapta(7) Jump-Inhale. Tim’s interpretation is jump while the lungs are empty and then begin the inhale once you land in Ardha Uttanasana and lift the head up. As opposed to trying to inhale all the way from down dog mid air and keep inhaling all the way through. That seems very intuitive to me and it makes sense and it is always nice to observe Tim’s practical reasoning when analyzing the finer details. The same rule applies in Surya Namaskar B when traveling in the 7th and 11th vinyasa where we step forward into Virabhadrasana or Warrior pose. Guruji would say Sapta(7) Right legnhale. Tim took this to mean keep the breath out while stepping forward and then once the foot is planted take inhale as the arms move over the head. This also make practical sense if you try it.
Kirtan – We took a 30 minute break and then came back and Tim got out the harmonium and it was time for some philosophy and kirtan(devotional songs). I have really grown to love this over the years. I was shy in this arena at the start but this is one of my most favorite parts of practice with Tim. One thing that becomes apparent when studying with Tim is that you are going to traverse a wide landscape in the yoga globe. Tim brings all of the elements to the table so that you feel as if this truly is not just about asana. He weaves the asana, pranayama, philosophy, mythology, sanskrit, chanting, song and meditation into one continuous experience so effortlessly that you feel as if you are experiencing yoga in its true authenticity. A couple of quick notes here:
In ancient times there were three main branches of study in the realm of self realization. There was of course yoga which cultivated self knowledge. Ayurveda to generate good health and Jyotish which could help one understand the universe and our relationship to it. There is a beginning and an end process in yoga. The fire is first and foremost and the last stage is surrender. Guruji would say “Isvara is the only Guru.” Isvara is always trying to teach us which is the good news. The bad news is we are not always listening. Isvara Pranidhana is surrender to the “Big Guru.”
Today is Monday which is ruled by the moon and therefore the presiding diety is Shiva. So we sang some Shiva songs to the rhythm of the harmonium and drum and it was quite pleasant and a nice way to relax and digest after some lunch.
Padangusthasana & Padahastasana ~ question: Should elbows be out to the side or in? answer: Personal preference. Bringing the elbows in enables us to broaden the shoulder blades.
also: If the toe tips turn white due to the blood rushing out, this demonstrates inappropriate effort and a more balanced approach is necessary.
Utthita Trikonasana & Parvritta Trikonasana ~ question? Should we grab the big toe no matter what? answer: If in the zeal to reach the toe we throw everything into gross misalignment then it might be more appropriate to catch the ankle. Of course there was a lot more than this however it is getting late and another pranayama session awaits early in the morning. 🙂
5:30pm ~ 7:00pm Intro to Mysore class taught by Tim. Each day we are encouraged to take a class and then to also observe or help assist in a class. Today I sat and took detailed notes of the sequence Tim uses to introduce the Ashtanga practice to his students. I have sat and observed him teach this class several times as well as taken quite a few times and this is truly one of my favorites. Tim begins the session by talking a little bit about the history of Ashtanga and explains the 8 Limb practice in a way that it doesn’t seem to overwhelming. Beyond the actual mechanics of how he creates a very effective beginning routine I think it his passion to still be teaching this beginning class however many years later that is the most appealing. Sometimes we forget how wonderful the foundation it. By just taking it slow and breaking it down step by step we actually can feel more connected as opposed to thinking that by going more extreme with the postures is the only path to further growth. It is Tim’s patience and good sense of humor that I found so endearing since day one. It got really hot in the room and Tim said, “it is getting hot in here, should we turn on the a/c?” One of the students replied with an astounding “Yes!” To which Timji replied, “Fat Chance!” I laughed out so loud!! Whether beginner or advanced, Timji had us sweating like there is no tomorrow.