I love how the KPJAYI shala is The Great Leveler and The Great Inspirer, all at the same time.
At this current point in time, there are a great number of Rockstar teachers practising in the shala. I'm gonna play it cool and not name names, but you have probably at one point or another seen these teachers' DVDs, read their blogs or attended their workshops. AND WE ARE ALL PRACTISING IN THE SAME SHALA TOGETHER.
I mean... How wild is THAT?! (I just wouldn't wanna be practicing next to them in a led Primary class. How much pressure would that be? Or... I'd probably be watching them out the corner of my eye the whole time. HAHAHA!)
I love how it's The Great Leveler in that there doesn't seem to be any preferential treatment for them - You arrived today? You get a later start time, so what if you're a Rockstar. Work your way to an earlier start time the longer you stay. Everyone has to wait their turn to practice too (I'm telling you, the only one who's got preferential treatment is the Police Commissioner, or perhaps he's the District Police Commissioner as the rumour goes. Remember, the dude who's got his reserved spot and doesn't have to wait in line?) Over here, it's Police before Rockstar Ashtangis!
And at the same time, it's also The Great Inspirer coz... Well... We're practising in the same room as so many other great Ashtangis (not just the Rockstars), all here for the same purpose. My favourite part of day is sitting and waiting for my turn in the foyer, coz I get to watch everyone else practicing. Just coz you got the next pose doesn't mean you know shit about all the other poses before it. Watching the level of refinement of other peoples' practices makes you realize how much more stillness, focus and grace can be achieved, and watching how far the human body can physically take itself (and how much of this is mental determination too) is just sheer inspiration.
I remember in Sharath's Sydney workshop, he said something along the lines of "Come to Mysore. 1 month there is like 5 months practice anywhere else." I think part of why practicing here is so different from practicing anywhere else is just coz of this inspiring energy... It's almost like you're absorbing this collective dedication and riding that wave in your own practice. I find myself wanting to push myself beyond that edge just a little bit more. Just knuckle down and DO IT. No nonsense.
Backbend Update: With backbends from the floor, I'm still hurling myself onto my knees. Yesterday, on my 3rd attempt, I came to semi-standing/ semi-squatting, kinda like an Utkatasana. Today, I was just propelling myself forward onto my knees. My friend practising next to me had some good advice. She said: You're moving forward too much. Think of moving UPWARDS. And use the inhale. AHA! Time to put this head knowledge into action. Tomorrow, I do.
Today, I finally did 3 dropbacks and stood up from all 3 without crashing or landing on my knees. Saraswati had come by to help me on my FIRST one, and immediately I felt the pressure and the walls closing in on me (and was thinking "Damn it. Now I'm gonna crash again"). Thankfully, she started assisting the lady next to me with her assisted dropbacks, so I could just get on with mine without that pressure of "ALL EYES ON YOU NOW!!". And I swear to God, that's what helped me get on with it. Every time there's someone there watching, I just freeze and my brain and body spazz out then I can't stand back up again.
Isn't it funny how much of being able to do something or not is just pure intention and having confidence in yourself too? "I CAN do this" or "I CAN'T do this" becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
I know some people feel that talking about your yoga/ asana process is taboo. Or rather, it should be kept private. But... I guess part of how I process stuff is to talk-talk-talk about it. And visualize it. And dream about it. It's worked for me in the past, so I'm sticking to it. And boy am I glad that the whole world knows that backbends is the issue I'm currently working on, coz I'm grateful for all the advice I've been getting from all my yogi friends, solicited and unsolicited. Ask and ye shall receive. HAHA!
Today's food porn shot: Anu's Banana Chocolate Almond smoothie. Because of this bad boy, I am determined to finally get me a blender when I return to Amsterdam. This is the vegan version without curds or milk, but this is like a smoothie laced with crack. It is sooooooooooo deliciously creamy, all it is is FROZEN bananas blended with chocolate and almonds. I am soooooooooo gonna keep a tub of frozen bananas in my freezer too. Why didn't I think of that?! (This is probably not as appetizing-looking as it is. I promise.)