We are now three days into the Swenson intensive and I am having a ball spending all day long with some of my favorite Ashtangis. David and Shelley are so great. Excellent teachers both -- patient and compassionate -- but beyond that, they are happy, lovely, inspiring people who seem to bring out the best in one another and, together, manage to make the possibility of finding love in this world look a little less dismal to the rest of us. I am grateful for their joy.
I am also incredibly grateful for their practical and grounded approach to the practice: minimalist instruction, assertive and direct adjustment, case-by-case assessment over strict rules and prohibitions. And best of all, no cheesy music or flowery yogaspeak.
Yesterday, after waking up embarrassingly late and dragging my frizzy, decaffeinated self to training for the day, I headed over to the local yoga festival to represent at the home studio booth for a couple of hours. As I sat there on the sagging seat of a plastic folding chair, smiling at passersby with mats in slings hung over toned shoulders, surrounded by retail booths offering everything from chakra crystals-on-a-string to physic readings for the auspicious price of $108, I listened to the mellow-toned cacophony of four different yoga classes occurring all at once, strung together with sitar and didgeridoo, and I wanted to kill myself.
Truly. It made me ill, such a stark and garish contrast to the quiet honesty I had been witness to for the better part of that day. As a volunteer at the festival, I received a goody bag full of wastefully printed paper advertisements (one of which actually thanked me for making a positive difference in people's lives as a teacher of yoga and then encouraged me to get on the mailing list so that I could "get the latest designs before anyone else does." Huh?), dietary supplements made with corn syrup and artificial ingredients, and a few Luna bars (You know -- it's like a Power Bar, but for a lady!) Gross.
THANK GOODNESS for people like Swenson who keep it real in a world of spectacle and facade. And thank goodness for Ashtanga keeping it simple and straightforward, staying true to the power of the practice by making space for the meditation.