Pretty awesome 8:30 start time. No more than 40 people in the Mysore room and every teacher/assistants except Richard Freeman and his assistants in the room. So lots of lovely adjustments. There was a lovely woman who practically gave me a full back massage after backbending.
The Evolution of Ashtanga
I was afraid this would be all blabla or retelling the same old same old. I was so very wrong. I hope they made share the video because there is no way I will do an 11:30-1:30 full of good stuff talk justice on this blog.
Some highlights for you all know I’m no Grimmly.
Manju started off by saying the first western invader was french speaking and not english and for a while there neither he or his dad had any idea of what he was saying.
He wrote about his experience in Life magazine and the full invasion started shortly after.
David Swenson told the Manju -I’m no swami we are here to break your backs story. Dena followed with a recent anecdote about her son Who was Saraswati’s student this past Christmas and how she told him “tomorrow- I kill you!” Richard shared how Amaji was so delighted with her first snow in Boulder that she started a snow ball fight. He mentioned Boulder’s connection to Shambhala Buddhism and how thrilled Guruji was to be a guest in the Dalai Lama’s sleeping quarters. Tim reminisced about the church basement where he started practice compared to this resort and the 2 bucks he paid compared to what we paid. He mentioned the double fear of being adjusted by Guruji and the fear of being ignored by Guruji.
Dominick asked Manju about adjusting to the USA in the begining and he joked about how every guy looked the same; long hair and a “weird” big smile. The conversation veered to “geriatric yoga” with Richard throwing in the monkey wrench of our cultures’ penchant for experimenting and I think he alluded to epigenetics and mumbled something about having to change how we practice if we end up “developing” extra limbs like maybe 4 arms instead of 2. Dena said that the practice has had to evolve from a full house being 12 students to a full house being 200+ . You cannot teach in the original traditional tiny room style. She also spoke about how when you start, you measure progress by pose accumulation like trophies. As your practice and your body matures, you change your measure of progress by the quality of your intentions and that definitively improves as you age. David added that even if you still use asana as currency and you measure your Ashtanga wealth in that manner, you get to a point where you engage in “philanthropy” and start giving stuff back. Tim very candidly shared the progression of his “philanthropy” and had us all chuckling. I am going to skip a chunk of talk about Ashtanga vs other styles of yoga and how every well known teacher was once an Ashtanga or Iyengar student and how going on and on about authenticity can sound like the yelling on a cable channel or a bad day at the UN security counsel. David said great asana teachers create thinking self regulating students to which
Manju added that Ashtanga was all about the geometries of life, about creating well built stable sound structures. He also said that yoga is very simple, it is everything else that is terribly complicated.
Richard and David talked about musical compositions and how inevitably every orchestra sounds different although the same music is being followed. They asked that students stop asking for tablets engraved in stone unaltered for eternity, or for the original authentic un changing formula. Yoga is life and life evolves. Dina said we Ashtangis are like a big family with strong bonds but that doesn’t mean that things do not get lively when our uniqueness and diversity shows up at the family reunion.
At 2:45 a charming gentleman called Dr. Manoj Chalam gave a lecture on Hindu deities and archetypes and I am now running out of steam but it was so illustrative and well delivered that he now has $300 of Ray’s dollars and I have 3 beautiful brass statues.
I chugged a protein shake before David’s “so you think you can balance” workshop which resulted after 40 minutes into “I’m pretty sure I might barf” so I left with a monster headache and my tail between my legs. This was the session I was most hopeful about in like I might hear/ learn something useful in solving my fear of abandonment issues in Sirsasana. I need to go to sleep. Furious about having to skip dinner in this foodie town because of my queasy stomach.
Please remember that the odds of my writing this long again are not in your favor.