Monday, January 25, 2010

Strange Encounters of the Stranger Kind

A weird thing happened to me today after practice.

As I was sat in the train, waiting for it to leave the station, a guy walks into the carriage and asks "You practice with E, right? Ashtanga yoga?"


Mother taught me well... don't talk to strangers and all right? So I was immediately hesitant and a bit suspicious. (The first thing I thought of was "Oh no! Have I said too much on my blog now that stalkers can find me?" Haha, talk about EGO.)

But it was an interesting encounter, and we ended up chatting for the 10-minute ride into town. Apparently he practices at the shala occasionally and has seen me (but er... I've never seen him before) and he complimented me on my practice.

I feel uncomfortable when someone says this, especially a stranger at that. My practice just feels a little private and personal, almost sacred... and I was thinking "HOW DARE YOU WATCH ME PRACTICE?!" (ohhhh... Now I see why Sharath didn't want the rest of us watching the Intermediate workshop).

Anyway... He asked me if I teach yoga and why haven't I been teaching while I've been here, and blahblahblah, and we got to talking about teachers, teaching, how wonderful our teacher is and attachment to your teacher in general... and... how "you are your best teacher" at the end of the day.


I just found it interesting, considering what we've been discussing in the last post about the student-teacher dynamic and doing as your teacher says (see the comments here).

Also, what I found interesting is I was dicussing pretty personal observations with a complete stranger. Maybe I'm on Twitter too much and I need to differentiate between the cyber & real worlds. HAHAHA! Or maybe it's true what they say about us Ashtangis being part of a greater tribe - that we feel an instant connection with a kindred spirit (of the Ashtanga kind).

OK, I'm getting into woowoo territory here. I just think that the other guy sitting across from us in the train carriage who was OBVIOUSLY eavesdropping must've thought we were smoking our socks and run off to join the fairies or something. It's funny innit, this thing we do called Ashtanga?

Here's another funny (bizarre) Youtube video of Willem Dafoe doing dropbacks/ walking around in backbends/ standing up in The Reckoning... (Huh?!) It's what Arturo mentioned in yesterday's post (And thanks Liz for the movie name!) I guess he's also a little bit cuckoo and takes his yoga practice to work. HAHAHA. (Oh my, what a deep backbend! ...but I guess if he can catch his ankles in Chakrabandhasana right...) It's at about 25sec into it.


  1. very bizarre clip! glad you found it.

    I was changing planes in Detroit recently, and a guy started a conversation. I told him I was coming back from a yoga trip, and he said he practiced with C, an Ashtanga teacher I know in New England. I hadn't even mentioned that I practiced Ashtanga, figuring it wouldn't mean anything, so I was pleasantly surprised. So we talked about yoga for a while, which was fun. But when I got back and checked with C, she'd never heard of him. Maybe he was just an occasional drop-in but it felt weird.

    As for watching other people's practices, I don't know how they do it. I've occasionally even had the inTENtion of watching someone interesting, but I always forget and am completely absorbed, so I never see a thing, and then it's over.

  2. I think it's usually pretty harmless when running across another Ashtangi- there is definitely a shared experience of some sort, right!?

    I sat next to an older woman on a flight from Boston who was a senior Iyengar instructor. She was pretty interesting. We talked the entire flight. (I knew something was up when I saw her put her body into a tiny little ball to get comfortable! ha ha!)

    The clip is actually not as strange as I remember- funny that I've seen enough since watching the movie to not be as moved by it! This was before I became a yogi YouTube addict.

  3. oh- and one more thing-
    I'm not really opposed to anyone watching me practice unless it's 1) a creepy guy or 2) someone with a super competitive edge. Neither has happened in many years so I have a peaceful practice!

    Think of it this way- a lot of times someone watching you is being inspired by what they see. I know when I have a chance to sneak a look at someone doing something amazing, I'm inspired.

  4. Actually, I'm guilty of sneaking peeks too - usually after savasana when I sit up and done with practice... especially if it's a Sunday with no agenda on, I'll sit on my mat for a few minutes and just watch people around the room. And yeah you're right. It's pretty inspiring. So I am also guilty as charged.

    HOWEVER... Stranger-in-the-train officially became CREEPY GUY today. Maybe I'm overreacting but I'm not sure how I should be feeling right now. You tell me:

    He showed up outside the shala this morning and we chatted for a bit (amongst the other yogis who were there too), while waiting for doors to open. Once inside, coz it's dark and our teacher's finishing up her practice in the corner, all talking stops. So because you had to whisper to be heard, we leaned into each other to say "Have a nice practice" or something like that, and Stranger-in-the-train guy gives me a kiss on the cheek before setting up his mat.


    I was momentarily stunned and in all honesty, if it hadn't been dark and quiet I would've yelled out "I'M SORRY BUT THAT'S PRETTY INAPPROPRIATE COZ I HARDLY KNOW YOU!" Maybe it was also coz when we were outside he was touching my arm one too many times for comfort - but I'd brushed it off as "you know how some people are just a bit more tactile" etc. But it kinda felt a little bit too much like Inappropriate Yoga Guy today, especially after the peck on the cheek too. Before starting my practice I actually wiped my cheek off to get his weird energy away.

    Heeby-jeebies. Tell me, am I just being a prude with the "Don't touch me, I don't know you!" or what. Ick.

  5. EWWWWWW!!!!!!
    I want to kick his ass for you!!
    For SURE Inappropriate Yoga Guy.

    unacceptable. That tale is blowing my mind. How old is he? Is he a social retard or just really, really bold? I've never heard anything like that before.

    What is so sad about this is that, if you were going to continue to practice there, you'd have this creep factor hanging over your practice. That is a terrible feeling. Years ago, when I was going to all led classes, there was a guy I would avoid like the plague. He not only had the wandering eye, but he would just dead on stare. I felt so exposed and icky. I would openly glare at him but he didn't get the message.

    Fortunately, most yoga dudes know how to behave and have some respect for the fact that this practice leaves everyone wide open. So back the f off yoga freak!

  6. I love your tights! You have the legs for them. Can't wait to see you next week!!!! YAY!!!! and am glad Joyful Surrender is turning out to be a useful way to center and remind yourself. love you lots xxxx

  7. Well Liz, he's a bit "older" (quotation marks coz I know people will complain when I refer to age and how old is "old". heh.) ...erm. Like a George Clooney kinda vibe. Maybe he's a social retard but he came across normal and good-looking so I guess that probably puts him in the "bold" category. Hello? He knows I have a partner COZ I TOLD HIM on the train. That we've been together for 4 years (4.5yrs to be precise!) So there's really no excuse for forward behaviour here.

    Maybe I should've said Kelly is a "SHE" to completely let him know I'm REALLY unattainable coz I'm playing on the other team, buddy. (Hey, if Kelly's got a girl's name, I might as well use it to my advantage right). HAHA. Anyways, I'm not gonna think too much about it coz the more I think about it, the more freaked out I feel (too freaked to write a blog today, actually.)

    SAMMIE! See you soon hun, and your little bottle of oil has been extremely helpful. :) Lurve you long time, sista! xxx

  8. Any chance freaky/inappropriate yoga guy reads your blog too???! Sorry to laugh at your discomfort Jaime but this unfolding story is hilarious to read!
    As Liz said though, at least with the fact you are moving soon you won't have the ongoing creep factor (phew). Silver linings and all that!!

  9. It's not so funny now coz I find I'm really disturbed by it now. Was distracted in today's practice "Ihopehedoesn'tshowup. Ihopehedoesn'tshowup. Ihopehedoesn'tshowup" thoughts, etc. And MY shala (and everyone else's for that matter), should be a safe place. Which it is, but this goon has F&*K'd with my head. I'm really annoyed with him now. Good thing he didn't show up. :)

  10. That feels really invasive to me - yuck! I'll refrain from "older" comments since I'm probably both your ages put together. But sounds to me like he is pushing boundaries, and that's creepy to have to worry about during practice. I would get up and move your mat if he came near you again. Blech!

  11. Well said Fran. Blech! Blech! Blechhhh!

  12. Good grief, Jaime, I just caught up on these comments. Nothing like a yogafreak to ruin your day.

    Please don't scare him over to our place. We have enough of them as it is!

  13. Anne - haven't seen him since. YAY! ...I wonder if he has joined the riot of characters in your shala! heh. I love reading about the cuckoos you practice with. ;p


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