Friday, January 7, 2011

"Yoga should be 24-into-7"

Quote from my Hatha Yoga Pradipika teacher today on verse 14 (who also teaches the Chanting and Sanskrit classes).

Thoughts on today's 24-into-7 of yoga:

1. Was expecting SUPER S.L.O.W. counts from Sharath, coz that's how I remember the 2 weeks of led Primary in his Sydney workshop were like. His count seemed manageable today. So either he wasn't counting as slowly today or I've slowed my breath down since his Sydney workshop. Maybe both. But of course his count was still torturous in Navasana and Uthpluthi. And dear old Sirsasana (I lasted till his 6th count which is further than I got in Sydney, but still - 6 of his counts equals 20 of my counts). !!!!!

2. On a purely physical level, doing today's led Primary with him was a good gauge from where I left off the last led Primary with him in Sydney. Seems ridiculous since that was pretty much a year and 2 months ago. But seriously - a led class with him with proper counts and group energy is like no other, and those 2 weeks with him left a lasting impression on the way I practiced since. Respect; He has Kungfu (If you have a chance to do any of his US workshops this year in Encinitas or New York: DO IT.) And of course, while I may be going deeper in some poses now than a year ago, my stamina has completely gone down the toilet. Towards the end, I was huffing and puffing to keep up. My simple aim is to get my stamina to get through the Primary series back on form again. A month of almost daily practice should help this.

3. On a mental level, today's practice was the most focused and clear I've been all week. Something about physically listening to the counts and poses as they're called out helps bring the mind to one point. Also, there was waaaaaaaay less faffing today. You just do it. Get into the pose, hold it, vinyasa-out, then you're onto the next. So simple. As it should be, really. I found I didn't perspire as much, or rather, my dripping sweat (and believe you me, I POUR SWEAT when I practice) didn't seem to bother me today as much as it does in self-practice (no brow-mopping with towel). There was some nose-blowing, but MUCH LESS than usual. And HEY PRESTO! That all led to a much quieter, focused practice. Who'd have thunk.

4. The Police Commissioner (I think that's him?) is a special student in the shala. He's a portly, middle-aged, graying dude in glasses who usually wanders in around 6.30am and has TWO mat spaces up front reserved for him. While the rest of us have to queue and wait for our turn, he just waltzes through the doors and plonks his mat down on his TWO reserved mat spaces when he arrives. He usually just comes in and gets on with his practice, but today, he arrived after Sharath had begun the led class, and I almost burst out laughing when the dude was just carrying on and doing his own thing! He was doing self-practice in the middle of the led class! R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Student with special privileges. Hats off to him though, he has been there everyday since I've been there, so he is definitely a dedicated student. :)

1. Loving the chanting class. Shantimantra, Gurustotram, and another one we start with before every class, I dunno what it's officially called but starts with "vakratunda mahakaya". NOTHING RELIGIOUS OR FUNDAMENTALIST ABOUT THESE CHANTS! Traditionally, a student has to be studying for a SUPER LONG TIME before the teacher will consider teaching any "higher level" chants to them. So all of these beginner level chants are pretty much about positivity, peace and light. World peace, I say!

We are also chanting out all the asanas in the Primary series, and chanting out the Sanskrit numbers from 1 to 30. Because these are the only Sanskrit words/ chants I'm familiar with, and we chant them out in that monotone-Indian-chant-way (I dunno how else to describe this!)... Because of the familiarity with these words, I feel almost lulled into a meditative zone with these chants. I leave the class feeling blissed out and relaxed.

2. Sanskrit is interesting. It's kinda hieroglyphic-y like Mandarin Chinese is, and it's kinda interesting seeing how the words are built up from the different parts. Similar to written Chinese in that sense, but that's about it. Practising writing Sanskrit is pretty much just getting used to what the squiggles look like at this point. I'm copying the Sanskrit alphabet blindly and have ZERO desire to have mastered anything after this beyond becoming familiar with the different sounds, and recognizing how the English phonetics should be pronounced, what with all the squiggly bits, slashes and dots around the alphabets (coz the English phonetics in Sanskrit works like the English Pinyin for those who understand Mandarin).

For Evelyn:

3. We are chanting out the verses of the Gita in Sanskrit, and also the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in Sanskrit. As you can imagine, that's A LOT of Sanskrit chanting in one day! The only explanation given is for the Pradipika. We go a few verses at a time. There is no higher level philosophical discussion beyond this. It's almost like a traditional "Teacher says so, you just absorb" way of teaching. Maybe this is cultural? After all, Krishnamacharya had to be with his teacher, Rama Mohan Bramachari, for a LONG TIME before Rama Mohan began to teach him anything at all. AG Mohan alluded to this at last Sunday's conference. That there are "different levels" of teaching, for different levels of students (depending how serious you are as a student and more importantly, HOW LONG you have shown dedication to the subject).

I find it interesting that our teacher today made a point of saying "You all are my friends, not my students." FRIENDS?! I wondered if it's coz we're deemed "not worthy" of being his students. I mean, how many of us are just passing through for a month or a few months at a time as opposed to having studied seriously for a long time, right? ...And in any case, who determines how "serious" a student is, anyways?!

...But I had another interesting point-of-view from someone else who explained that this teacher is super humble and doesn't deem himself worthy of being called a teacher, which is why he doesn't have "students", just "friends". WOW. That's fresh! Taking into account the whole cultural-lost-in-translation thing makes me wonder if I'll ever "get" this whole yoga thing. I am loving being at the source, but I also wonder how much more I'm really missing out on coz of cultural innuendos just like that. I mean... How much is already lost through the language itself? Some things just can't quite be translated. I am finding myself asking more questions than there are answers for.

But... Maybe asking and figuring out these questions is part of the whole point, too?

I'm expanding my repertoire of Indian food beyond Masala Dosas and Thalis. I'm just being gung-ho now and trying whatever I point to on the menu. It's all vegetarian anyways, and when am I ever gonna have that kind of luxury anywhere else? A whole menu of things I can eat, not just 1 or 2 options?! HELL YEAH!

So glad I'm doing this coz LOOK AT THIS FOOD! Akki Roti for dinner last night. A thick pancake with onions, chives, sesame seeds, green chilli, what looks like dill but doesn't taste like dill... and a chutney dip that's like a mix of coconut chutney and sambar.

Breakfast this morning, Rava Dosa. A much thinner dosa, with onion, chives and dried coconut in it. Super thin and crispy. With coconut chutney and I have no clue what that dip is in the left but it was EFFING DEELISH.

Lunch today with the most-est, loveliest (0v0) and friends at another special home-cooked meal place. Like seriously - we went to a local lady's house and she cooked us a home-cooked meal. It was probably 4 times the price of a regular restaurant meal (but still, like what... €2.50?), but oh-so-delicious. We sat on the floor of her living room and ate with our hands. There were a few other groups there too. Super awesome experience and with great company too! (No pictures of people to protect their privacy! It's just all food here!)

And to end off with dinner tonight, my landlord brought me up a dish he experimented with tonight - a dahl dish that he created from scratch, with some chepatis. This was probably hands down THE BEST MEAL I have had since being here. I think it's coz he actually cooked this for his family and you could taste the special ingredient in there: Love. That's terribly cheezy, but that must be it. I just feel special enough to have been given a taste of it. :)

I think I've had a pretty damn good 24-into-7 day of yoga today. :)



  1. I agree with going to the workshops if possible, i find that since I attended his led classes the last time he was in NY I definitely slowed down the count, especially in chaturanga. great pix!

  2. oooh! Thanks for the pics! I love any written language that's hieroglyphic-like.

    The food photos are making me drool.

    Your story about the "special student" was cracking me up so hard. See, THIS is why your blog rocks. You find hilarity in everything around you and then report it back to us!

  3. I jusy signed up for Encinitas!

  4. food porn! Sanskrit porn! love it! I am having just the vicarious trip I longed for. Thanks, Jaime!

  5. L.O.V.E this. All of it. Keep it comin'. I studied Mandarin and so can sorta relate. Writing it was fun and yet really hard. Speaking slightly easier but who knows what I really sounded like or was actually saying?

    Thank you for taking all the classes so I can have a full vicarious experience!

  6. Sanskrit porn :-)

    Loved having you join us yesterday, and following you blazing through the streets of Laksmipuram with your sunglasses on and hair blowing in the breeze. Live it up, darling.

  7. Vakratundaya is one of the 108 names of Ganesh, and your mantra might be this:

    Vakratunda Mahakaaya
    Suryakoti Samaprabha
    Nirvighnam Kuru Mey Deva
    Sarva Kaaryeshu Sarvada

    Although each line of that particular mantra pops up in other mantras and texts as well.

    Sanskrit is hard to learn, but worth it! Part of the reason you might not be getting a lot of explanation is that it's not always necessary. Sanskrit words and sounds have a vibrational quality that is said to be able to cause enlightenment. To just chant is a very traditional style of learning.

    Krishnamacharya would say a guru (teacher) should be "no more or less than a friend". This is a way of saying that in the end, there's no difference between any of us. A teacher might have more attainment in enlightenment, but it's not as if you can't get there, too. That's my understanding of this way of interacting with students.

    You're definitely at the source, and without doubt there's a lot of things going on that you aren't getting. But its the same for any of us in a foreign culture, you know? So keep asking questions, nothing wrong with that!

    Oh and the food looks AWESOME!!

  8. Claudia - YUP! I never really had a desire to go to Mysore until after doing his Sydney workshop. I mean - I thought "yeah, would be cool to check out Mysore" but it was always just a passing thought. Even if you can't get yourself to Mysore, just a taste of what it could be like can be gleaned from his world tour workshops. :)

    Evelyn - there's another story about how the PC actually stopped doing his asana and corrected the lady on the mat right next to him in her asana. HAHAHA! I'm secretly hoping I get to practice next to him one day soon. THAT would be an experience. :)

    Laura - AWESOME!! You're gonna love it. :)

    Fran - Hehe! Will keep the photos coming. :)

    Loo - Yeah, I figured since I'm here I might as well go the whole hog and jump in. The days with classes get a bit crazy but oh well... it's REST DAY TODAY!!

    Owl - THANKS FOR THE INVITE!! Seeing Mysore on the back of a bike (a cool bike at that) is the BEST way to see Mysore! (sans helmet et al) Cracked me up every time I turned around to check if you there to see your bright white helmet on! SAFETY FIRST!!

    Svasti - I KNEW YOU'D KNOW! That completely makes sense now, about what the Great K said. And no, it's not that ganesh mantra. It goes:
    vakrantunda mahakaya
    kotisurya samaprabha
    avighnam kurumedeva
    sarvakaryesu sarvada

    then next verse is one I've heard loads of times... y'know... saha na vavatu, saha nau bhunaktu... etc. x

  9. The helmet is the coolest thing in Karnataka. Safety is awesome!

    P.S. When it catches on, the town will be full of "thousands of shining white heads." It'll be visible from space, I bet.

  10. enjoying your stories, Jaime.
    hugs (and a hug to Owl)

  11. You are awesome.... Trust you to dive in 100% full on, and document it all for us to an insane level of detail. Thanks!!! And after all this food porn I'm SO glad I'm going for south Indian food today (in the snow)!

  12. OvO: :)

    Arturo: hugs back!

    Susan: Hahaha! I'm a neurotic Ashtangi. Actually, it's probably an occupational hazard that I pay attention to detail. Plus, I'm a neurotic Ashtangi. Double whammy. Enjoy your meal!! :)


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