Primary Friday: Be advised... Ashtanga awaits.

It's been nine days since my last rest day and my body has not been shy in reminding me.  I'm feeling an interesting tweak deep in the groins at the hamstrings attachments.  My arms are tired, my wrists are stiff and I can't stop stuffing my face.  I'm on my fourth banana of the evening, and that's just to hold me over between bread and dairy products.  Hehe.  Practice the last couple of days has been a little rough.

It was back to T's room as usual for Friday practice this week.  I arrived early and had the room to myself for the first fifteen minutes.  The afternoon sun warmed the naturally lit room to a nice balmy condition.  I was sweating by the first Surya B.  A young woman joined me as I was half-way through the Salutations, unrolled her mat at a safe distance and, after a bit of light stretching, sat down.  I always show up early because my practice is long.  This Friday session is a free Mysore class, and as such functions as an Ashtanga lure to unsuspecting seekers of free yoga.  Many who come to class have no idea what Mysore means, and some are not familiar with the distinctions of Ashtanga.  Often, these first-timers arrive early, before the teacher shows up, and end up in the room alone with me as I carry on with my practice.

My heart goes out to these people.  They almost always lay their mats down on the opposite end of the room and fidget, no doubt confused by my refusal to acknowledge their need for direction while they play with gentle hip openers between trips to the water fountain.  They have no idea what's in store for them.  When I wrote this post, just over three months ago, I could never have guessed how quickly I would be swept up by Ashtanga. When I see these people, wandering into the shala unawares, I feel so compelled to reach out and warn them what's to come, but I don't.  Better to lead by example.  Better to let T explain.  In the meantime, I try to ignore them as lovingly as possible.

T gave me Bhekasana today.  S's sub gave me everything up to Parsva Dhanurasana on Monday, and I sort of tacked on Ustrasana while no one was looking... in my home practice, that is.  Working with different teachers, I've been letting them tell me what they think I'm ready for on an individual basis.  It's a little strange, but enlightening.  Sometimes I'm amazed by what they're able to see.  I might practice up to Parsva Dhanurasana when S comes back, since it was her sub who gave them to me, and see what she says.

Backbends were good.  All the backbends of 2nd are developing my upper back nicely and make Urdhva Dhanurasana a breeze.  My stand ups are more consistent as I've grown better able to sustain the strength in my legs after the Urdhva Dhanurasanas.  One of the drop backs in particular was especially nice today, with my hands landing softly much closer to my heels than usual.  I feel my uddiyana bandha getting stronger as I work toward using less momentum in the standing attempts.

Tomorrow is a rest day and I could not be more ready.  I might even do a nice restorative practice in the afternoon.  My body is still adjusting to a more intensive teaching schedule, not to mention the recent switch to a 6-day per week Ashtanga practice.  These changes are beginning to catch up with me and I really need to lie around and relax for a day.... maybe take the dog for a walk... do some reading... eat lots fruit and cheese.  You know the drill.  Me time.


  1. Nice post. Thanks for sharing what goes on at your shala. It's really interesting that T chooses to make the free yoga class a mysore class. Certainly not your average introductory yoga class; but then again, it's probably the best way to get into Ashtanga (and probably yoga in general). I wish that was my first yoga class.

    It's great that you live in Austin. I lived in Austin for a semester in Fall '99 as an exchange student at UT. It's such a beautiful town. I had many beautiful memories there.

  2. Thanks, Nobel. Austin is a pretty special place, you're lucky to have lived here for a bit.

    Mysore does seem like an odd choice for a free class, but I think the center is trying to promote their Mysore program. They have multiple daily mysore classes and very good teachers, but they are not particularly well attended. People are intimidated by Ashtanga and especially by Mysore-style self-practice. T does a nice job of introducing students to the practice piece by piece. I, too, wish I'd been introduced to Ashtanga in such a way.

  3. My teacher held a separate Introduction to Mysore workshop on a Saturday--that's how I got introduced. A couple of veteran Mysore peeps came in and did about 30 min of their own practice while we watched. Then my teacher explained it and let the veterans give us a little bit of their Mysore story. And then she led us through the suns and a few standing poses.

    She hasn't done that in a while. Now how it works is that you simply observe on the first day (free of charge) and she explains a bit of it to you, and when you come back again she starts teaching you. She also teaches a led 1/2 primary and gives a little Mysore plug at the end of class ("if you would like to learn more about Ashtanga..."). Anyways, interesting to compare notes.

    By the way, my hamstrings ached for several weeks when I started practicing Ashtanga regularly--and they were already pretty flexible! It eases off though :)

  4. I like how you say that you ignore them in a sweet way, sort of lovingly knowing that what is to come is good... that is a good feeling... :-) nice post!

  5. Tara - It seems like your teacher has designed a careful and thorough introduction to Ashtanga. That workshop sounds nice.

    Claudia - Yeah. I don't know what else to do for them except send them my love.

  6. Those poor newbies! I bet you inspired them greatly, or scared them, not sure which ;)