Saturday, April 13, 2013

in which my head does not explode, but my heart goes ka-boom

Well, I survived led primary, and more importantly, the unnecessary but unavoidable (at present) worrying about it.

I wish I had taken photos from the cabride down the FDR..along the east river..seems so quintessentially New York..and a view you never get when you live here- both looking back the Manhattan buildings which face the water..old apartments, Stuyvesant high school (math and science h.s.), housing projects, hospitals...and also seeing across the river,,and the view of highbridge park, probably the worst park in manhattan, as far as safety goes.

Did I need to go to a class of 275 for led primary? In retrospect, probably not. It was good, but not great..I mean how can it be? Plus, I am still in the throes of a lot of panic attack reactions during practice, and during this class was no different. Practicing in very close quarters is not what I want right now. At the first heart was pounding. What did I get myself into? Will this chug along too fast for me? The room, a basketball court gym, has terrible acoustics, and the sound of people breathing just disappeared into the ether. I swear it is louder at my shala some days.

Oddly, I found this easier in many ways than when I practice at my shala. Everything is held for less time, but there was a longer break between sides, time to sneak in an extra breath (as I couldn't slow my breath down that much, perhaps Sharath was waiting for everyone to jump back each time? After all those vinyasas, I still was not exactly sure what he meant for us to do).  Some asanas couldn't happen in their full expression-- I was afraid of head butting a well known Jivamukti teacher if I tried to roll around in garbha, for example. I didn't exactly have all the staggering on the mat skills for led class down either, or a good sense always of where I was in space (only 1 foot to foot collision in tiryam, even though I tried very hard to stay completely on my normal length mat-impossible for seated unless you are under 5ft tall I think).

In a way, this class snuck up on me, standing and seated were not that bad..but, after backbending, however, I was done for, and started to cry, but as the series moves on..I moved on to the next posture. This was the only place where the practice started to feel relentless, since at the shala, after backbending, I usually go to the other room to finish..and that means a minute or more of rearranging my a nice fat break! Almost no "rest" at the end too. WTF with that? I didn't know about the -chant before you take rest, so I jumped to seated instead of forward.

There were various differences between the mysore practice and this counted practice. 10 breaths (I think) in shoulderstand, then 8 in everything else til headstand..which went on for a very loooooooong count of 15 (at least 20 breaths by my count). Oh, and when Sharath says "last one", that does not necessarily mean "last one" could also mean second to last one...

In the led class, however, there was no time to think about taking too much of a break anywhere or to worry about the next pose. Sharath counts, the group moves and you move with them, more or less. I was surprised that some difficult poses- my nemisis UHP- were easier-no little pep talk required to do the pose needed. It comes, it!  Overall, .mysore practice is much tougher that way. While, I have the group energy there as support, I have to face the resistance, obstacles, etc, in my head that I create, by myself. Maybe that is the point of led see what practice is like with less of those that maybe next time I have my mysore practice, I can take some of that feeling with me. I actually felt pretty energized afterwards, though that didn't last the morning.

After class was over, Sharath gave a short talk. I had a feeling he's been giving a version of this talk for the past 2 weeks. No awkward Q & A this time. Calm and steady your mind via the asanas, the yamas and niyamas, so that you can later experience the other limbs. Don't bother trying to meditate can't make that happen until your mind is calm..and sitting there won't do it. As I practice without my glasses, I couldn't really see how tired Sharath looked (Saraswati did seem tired) until I saw photos posted on facebook. Oh, I do wish they had more rest.

The emotional tempest that practice has been stirring up didn't appear until an hour after practice, which is also when the exhaustion kicked in. (note to self, do not discuss practice with other shala-mates, but I will save that for another post) I guess I did get more energy practicing with that large group, though it didn't seem that way at the time.

No practice report is complete without food. I found a lovely coffeeshop nearby- Bowery Coffee. When I opened the door, I could hear great salsa music- fania all stars - playing. Wish I could have tried their coffee. It was my favorite sort of place, with just a few tables and a little counter, and the people working there were super friendly.

rishi jasmine tea and a peanut butter and jelly doughnut from the doughnut plant - yummmmmmm


  1. I loved reading your practice report and your experience with Sharath. That's something I hope to experience one day.
    Thanks, too, for your recent comment on my blog. Both of them came through so I don't know what Blogger was doing? I replied there and asked you a question about something you wrote. I'm not sure if Blogger notifies commenters of replies or not? Anyway, I wondered if you knew what the directive "engage your quads in all forward bends" is for? I've heard it, too, but I don't get why tightening the front is supposed to be good for the back of the leg? Do you?... Big hugs to you.

  2. hi savannah,

    thanks :)

    blogger does not notify of responses unless maybe you subscribe (just what i need..more emails!)..i usually try to check back later though. i answered you on your blog

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