Practicing with People Karma

This morning I went to led primary. I’ve been practicing on my own since the end of October, so I was curious to see what it’d be like to get back to a somewhat regular shala practice. (Once a week? More? Don’t know yet.) I do know there is something “else” there for me, though, so I’m gonna go with it.

Get to the shala-in-the-climbing-gym and hug The British Director, who is subbing for Volleyball Guy until he gets back from India in about 5 weeks or so. Greet some other Saturday regulars. Monitor my response to being in yoga clothes around other humans. All is well.

There are about 10 of us, and 7 want to do intermediate. I’m game, too. The primary folks are old regulars, so The British Director will be able to split her time between both groups and manage it all. As we’re finishing up the Surya As, in comes a new guy. Kind of loud, and with an “I’m not sure where I’ve landed” look on his face. Wild hair, long dirty pants. We’ll call him Crazed Man from the Desert.

The British Director asks if he’s ever practiced Ashtanga before. “I’ve practiced ALL KINDS of yoga!” he announces happily. Somehow this doesn’t seem promising.

The British Director starts to say that we’ll need to revise our plans for the class. In a fit of problem-solving behavior, I ask her if she’d like me to go ahead and practice with the primary folks.

“Sure!” she says.

Okay.

So I set up with the two regular primary practitioners and Crazed Man from the Desert, who is enthusiastic but a little smelly. I feel rude writing that, but it’s true. I mentioned to everyone that I’d just be saying the words, but not doing any adjusting. Not ’cause of Crazed Man, by the way. I’m just not qualified.

The British Director leads us all through standing. Oh, I’d forgotten! In VBG’s classes, we do the West Coast samakonasana/hanumanasana add-on. I haven’t done hanumanasana in months, but the full expression is right there — in fact, it feels particularly good, probably because I’m not doing it all the time. The group stays together through parsvottanasana, and then off goes our little group.

First off, it’s weird saying everything out loud. Secondly, it’s funny to space out in your own breathing and forget that you are counting, only to suddenly realize that other people are hanging in poses, wondering if the next thing you’re gonna say is “two” or “five.” It really does take a lot of concentration to sort out all the names and the counting. I am accustomed to writing the names of poses, particularly ones I struggle with, but I am NOT accustomed to pronouncing them out loud. Trianga mukhaikapada paschimottanasana gets abbreviated to “trianga mukha blah blah blah,” much to the amusement of the regular practitioners.

I practice along with them, and it is actually quite pleasant. I guess I am somewhat used to this because of practicing with The Cop, but he is a more focused student than Crazed Man, who keeps doing wild variations on what we are actually doing and muttering things like “this isn’t like MY yoga.” Which draws the attention of the woman next to him, who keeps giving him props and explanations. “Thanks,” he says, and then mutters under his breath, “I don’t like props.” She hands over, pose by pose, an expanding collection of props, which he accepts and dispenses with each and every time. I just keep plowing along on the count — sink or swim, mateys!

And so we swim.

The hot room is a joy — and urdhva dhanurasana feels spectacular. It is a real measure of change for me — I remember what I felt like doing UD in this room last time I was here, and it is an astonishing difference. It feels good. Like actively, desirably, I-want-to-do-it-again kind of good.

Throughout all of this, Crazed Man is commenting under his breath. “Oh, I needed that,” “this is great,” “this is something,” “they must have had some incredible hash when they made this up,” etc. Indeed, he is very enthusiastic. At the end of practice he says how happy he is and asks if Pattabhi Jois is in his 90s or 190s. He says he is on the lookout for the 200 and 300 year old people that he knows are out there but hasn’t met yet.

“This was GREAT!” he tells The British Director. “I couldn’t do all of it, because I was watching what SHE (pointing at me) was doing. She was doing some WILD STUFF!”

“Is this the first time you’ve led primary?” The British Director asks me.

Um, yeah. I try not to do it too often since I have no training whatsoever. It went well enough, though, that I think I might try doing some brain surgery next week. I should just keep upping the fraud ante and see where I get.

On the way out of the parking lot, I think, “Crap, Crazed Man, please don’t follow me home, ’cause The Cop’ll shoot you.”

And thus ends the story of my return to practicing in the shala.

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9 Responses

  1. The Cop wouldn’t give him a few warning Taserings before reaching for the hardball?

  2. that is SO funny! and i think there is a little bit of a difference between the untrained leading an ashtanga class and the untrained doing brain surgery…maybe…

  3. Hilarious, Karen! Totally a first-teaching experience: was this in fact your first “led” primary, in a fashion? Yes, “two….or….five?” Yes also to “Trianga Mukha blah blah.”

  4. I’ve taken led classes, Patrick. Used to do one a week for a while there, with Mysore on the other days. Today was quite surreal, what with having practiced on my own for close to half a year. This was quite a reentry!

    And Carl, I’m not sure about the parameters of Taser versus gun, at least not when on home property. Perhaps The Cop will enlighten us.

    Tova, I’m feeling pretty confident about the brain surgery thing. Maybe I ought to be a jockey at a horse race before I move on to the surgeon role. I’ll see how I feel next week.

  5. Hi Karen
    What an enjoyable story. And it seems you are indeed getting the hang of being able to teach, by having helped The Cop.
    Cheers
    Arturo

  6. Hi Arturo,

    Yes, it was an amusing class.

    And Carl, I asked The Cop about the gun/Taser parameters. “We don’t have intermediate weapons here at the house.” Meaning, the Taser. I guess he leaves that at work. Talk about upping the ante.

  7. Blah, I forgot how to use English for a second there: what I meant about led classes, was, “Is this the first led class that you’ve led?”

  8. I think I might try using English the special “Patrick way” at work this week. I wonder what will happen? 🙂

    And yes, first led I’ve led. If you want to call it led, and if you want to say I led. Because I think you’d have to be using the terms loosely, if you’d seen how I did. LOL!

  9. Ruso-English blogging argot?

    Eagerly do I await for the return of Crazed Man From the Desert. A welcome character, he is. Appreciate your humor, I do.

    (This entire post was a bit surreal…)

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