Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sharath in Sydney: Week 1,Day 2

This is what a geek I am. I've discovered another use for my Blackberry. Since I've got about a 10 - 15min walk from the workshop to the train station, on my post-practice walk there I whipped it out and started typing down little notes from this morning on the Memo Pad app. Hey, it's important! By the time I get back, shower, change, get back on the train to head to work etc. I'd probably have forgotten half the things that I found interesting during the practice! (so this is what I'm referring to now as I type this post. Heh.)

The numbered points worked for me yesterday (and prevents me from going too far off-tangent, for your benefit too)... so here goes my observations on Day 2:

1. Opening & Closing Chants
The opening chant as recited by Sharath sounds weeeeeeeird. It sounds completely monotone and without the usual "melody" I'm used to chanting it in. Is there supposed to be a tune with this, have I just been singing it all wrong (y'know, the "Western" interpretation of the chant). As opposed to Guruji's version here (scroll to the bottom of page)

Yesterday was the first day I ever recited the Closing chant (7 years after discovering Ashtanga!) It was kinda cool. I'm gonna research this a little bit more today for its meaning. The only part in it that I recognized was one of my favourite phrases, "Lokum Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu" (May all beings everywhere be happy and free). This seems to be more recited out loud (like reading from a book) rather than chanting or singing.

2. More Sharath humour!
- UHP: people getting off-balance especially when it came to the second sideways variation (utthita parsvasahita?) and he says "No dancing!"
- Backbends: after extremely long counts in Urdhva Dhanurasana and everyone came down after the last one with a big SIGH (of relief), he says "No crying!"
- Uthpluthi: he says "Stay up. Don't come down. $25 fine if you come down".

This isn't really part of his humour, but I found it really cute that he doesn't use the word "Ujjayi". His reminder is simply "breathe with sound". I was trying to figure out what he meant by "free breathing" (closing in baddha padmasana), but then he repeated with "free breathing with sound".

(since it's another long-ish post, I'm breaking it up with a nice picture of baddha padmasana). :)

3. Counting
Today's counts seemed more manageable than yesterday's. Have I already gotten used to it, or was he just a little bit faster? Chatted with someone who'd been in the Bali workshop last week and she says the counts there were definitely a lot longer than the counts in Sydney (she reckons maybe it's because people were on holiday in Bali as opposed to how everyone needs to rush off to work after here). As an example, we're supposed to go from 6am - 8am (the timings they more or less stuck to in Bali), but the past couple of days here, we've finished at 7.45am.

Oh, also, we've been doing 5 Surya A's and only 3 Surya B's. Both today and yesterday. I thought it was coz we had a bit of a later start yesterday being the first day and all so didn't think anything of it, but it happened again today.

Found myself struggling to concentrate on the breath in Mari B - D. Or rather, struggling to regulate my breath to his count (I was starting to veer into 2 or 3 of my breaths per one of his counts. FOCUS!)

4. No adjustments again today!
...but he adjusted people on BOTH sides of me! (should I be grumpy about this or relieved? LOL!) Gimme a bind in Supta K, dammit! :p

But I also realized today how used I've gotten to having assistance in getting bound into Supta K (without doing much work myself even though it feels like you're working damn hard. Which I suppose you are, but in a different way). It's quite a different way of working your body when you're trying to bind the pose yourself (and failing miserably). Ha.

5. Body aches
Started yesterday evening with a bit of burning thighs and triceps, and really felt it when I woke up this morning... and after the practice, walking up the slight incline all the way to the train station really got me a bit winded. Really felt those thighs in backbends today too.

Headstand - I have this really weird thing that happens when I get to about 20 of my regular breaths (that's about, oh say 5 of Sharath's counts?)... my right foot starts cramping and I have to come down and flex it out (oh who am I kidding, the rest of my arms can't hold myself up by then anyway). Am I trying too hard here or what? Gonna try and see if I can build up strength over the next few days to hold for longer since he's a good metronome and I can gauge by his counts how strong I'm getting. Or not. Haha.

6. The Inhale-Exhale timings from seated asanas
See comments from yesterday's post. This is what I've been obsessing about from yesterday's practice. So I was straining really hard to work out what the heck he's saying when we come out of seated postures, moving into vinyasa. It's Inhale-look up. Something-Exhale. Dwadasha-Inhale etc... (my next mission is to learn sanskrit numbers!) But it's definitely "Dwadasha-Inhale". And I found out today Dwadasha means TWELVE. (Thank you Google)

So folks, I reckon what got me crossed-eyed yesterday thinking he was instructing the "lift up" on the exhale (when it should be on the inhale), was coz I thought he said "Exhale: dwadasha"... and not knowing what dwadasha meant I thought it was "lift up". As in... "Exhale - lift up". Lost in translation y'all!

He usually does the count, followed by the instruction. Y'know... Ekam (One): Inhale. Dwe (Two): Exhale. Trini (Three): Inhale. Chatvari (Four): Jumpback etc. First it's learning the numbers, and by the end of these 2 weeks I'll be getting my diploma in Sanskrit linguistics, you watch.

By the way... for my tweeps who keep asking if there are boys in #skimpyyogashorts at the workshop... I DON'T KNOW! Pratyahara y'all, withdrawing my senses and all; not focussed on things around me. HAHA. But I went earlier today and set up my mat towards the front/middle of the hall and got a better view of the goings-on ahead of me. When it was time to start, Sharath stripped off his trackpants to reveal mid-thigh cycling shorts and somehow I thought of my twittershala. Nothing tittelating (or is that "twittelating") at all, not like this guy.

That pretty much wraps up today's report. Have a happy Wednesday!


  1. Great report! So fun. My teacher counts in Sanskrit too, and sometimes I get a little confused around the middle/end of practice when it's more complicated and I feel like I've screwed up the count/breath. I'm just so used to doing it on my own! Guess it makes me pay attention.

    A sorta easy way to remember the inhale-exhale deal is to think of inhaling when the motion is up, exhaling when down. Lift up-inhale, expand ribs. Not that I actually remember this, I think I've finally integrated the breath and movement so I don't think of it, but for the first few years it was something I had to work out!

    oh- and skimpy shorts? ew! Though I do like your photo of the guy! Turban and thong. All a person really needs.

  2. I'm with you on the chants - I immediately thought that his must be the "proper" version whereas I'd been doing a nice little song ;)

    But then was actually there for the opening chant at my shala last week for the first time ever, and my super-traditional authorised teacher makes it into even more of a song than I ever did! I love the meaning of the closing chant too. I actually want to comment on the whole post but I'll put a sock in it for now...loving the updates Jaime!! x

  3. Thanks Liz! You're right - the inhale/exhale had become quite second nature to me too and I never really thought about it. The last led class I went to was a long time ago, so when I couldn't understand what he was saying, it got me very confused. Especially when I thought he was saying exhale-lift, but when I did precisely that it felt weird... which got me even more confused! Glad it's all sorted now. Oh, I also looked up the Sanskrit numbers so it's starting to make a bit more sense now. :)

    Hey Mel! My yoga teacher back in S.Africa commented on Facebook and said it's a Western thing to add a melody to the chant (my traditional certified teacher here also does it sing-songy style). Guess it's more of a cultural difference then? I like it with a tune, seems more "accessible" and easier to remember! xxx


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