With sub-zero temperatures back home in Boston, Im pretty happy to be in Mysore. It is a new paradigm here as the group of maybe, 300?, is not changing over at the beginning of a new month. The same group of students will persevere until January end. The assistants are changing over, and I‘ll be on first batch, from 4-630ish AM, followed by a rather long practice. By 6:30 the walls are sweating and I go wash my feet, change my soaked clothes, and wait for a practice space to open up. It is quite an honor to assist Sharathji and I feel a little shift as it is my second time with the early batch now and Im less nervous! Last season, I found it a learning curve to assist in someone else’s mysore room after being only in my own room for 10 years. People practice differently here than they would at home, when one has to teach or go to work right after. When there’s nothing pressing, and you don’t even have to cook your food if you don’t want to (though Rich and I do), you can really put your all into the practice.
When I started teaching in my 20s, my life had consisted of only epic morning practices, a foraged fruit diet, and hitchhiking around to odd jobs when I could get them. Living on the porch at Nancy's (I remind you I started the yoga/travel life at 19 and never had a more conventional “life” situation) with a rotating cast of mystical characters added to the ambience. As my east-coast roots and family ties took hold, the calls from Boston came and your desire for a teacher called me from the gulches of Maui. Coming to you all in Boston, I learned so much about the “real world.” How I offered the practice to each person became a live process of observing how the practice fits into the rest of life. I find it a unique, and familiar, expression of imbalance to have little else in the life but asana practice. So here I am assisting in the middle of it all! Majority of the people in the first batch are also teachers, so supporting them in this short time where they get to focus on their own practice is quite a meaningful time, but also a bit of a dance, as I don’t know their bodies at all! And I know you all from looking at you every day for years! It is a neat skill that requires absolute presence for what the moment is presenting, rather than relying on a cumulative experience. It requires the heart, the eyes, and the hands, and an experiential familiarity with the way energy moves in bodies. I try to be well rested, digested, and alert, then there is nothing to do but trust in the past 10 years of teaching to serve us now as we do some very intense backbending together.
Bear with me. I guess what Im reflecting on is the intersection of daily life and Yoga, and the evolution of the mind. As usual. Is it our goal, as practitioners, as aspiring yogis, some of us as stewards of yoga communities, to cultivate the kind of presence where yoga is manifesting in its Absolute fullness as we practice asana, and all the other stuff melts away…AND simultaneously cultivate the ability to fluidly, and willingly, shift the attention back to the daily life when the shower/hairdry/dress happens, as I watch the crew head off on the demanding road to work? Here’s the thing. In my experience, the fabric which hangs between these two modes of attention becomes a thinner and thinner weave. Yoga pokes through at the most surprising times, like shooting stars, and we might not even notice it as such, in the beginning. Until the fabric between daily life and Yoga is a silken filament, there to nurture and protect us while we balance stability and deep transformation. Life moves in us as a rhythmic breeze, and its current becomes something omnipresent in our awareness, most palpable in the essence of movement and breath practice. Which is why the practices draws us in. Isn’t that why we love it?
Oh, it is from this sacred place I aspire to teach, to assist this month, to live this life! And it is this current of Life I hope to share with you all as I return to Beantown. Thank you for that opportunity.