JUMPIN' JACK FLASH
I am in the middle of a two-day Dharma Mittra workshop. He's the Brazilian-born 66 year old teacher on the giant poster of the 900 yoga poses. The first time I ever did yoganidrasana (reclining w/ legs behind the head) was in his class, in NYC, in 1999. He's the type of teacher who leads you through a sequence (that includes his challenging and invigorating Shiva Surya Namaskar [sun saluation] series -- lots of intense lunges and a million Vasisthasanas, among other things, and ends with a seemingly effortless dropback at the front of the mat) which is followed by a sequence of poses that has you doing things you've never even *seen* before, let alone tried to do. Some of them of course I could not do ("Try this if you are under 60," he would say, and we'd give it a shot). But it was fun to go from Sarvangasana to Navasana and use breath of fire in that pose (it doesn't seem to last as long when you're focused on the breath) and stand up from revolved Parsvakonasana with my arm wrapped around my leg. We also paused for a moment to watch him as he explained in a very serious tone our next asana. It turned out to be jumping jacks with Kapalabhati breathing. Doing it made me feel like I was five years old, and I actually laughed out loud. Laughter is a new one, when it comes to yoga.
I am feeling intense guilt now for subbing out my Sunday class so I can stick around for both sessions of today's workshop. But it *will* supposedly make me a better teacher.. especially because he goes into mantra (chanting), pranayama (breathing) and philosophy quite a bit and uses a lot of hilarious, real-life examples (like the butcher who meditated for 30 years but couldn't figure out why it wasn't working). He also editorializes about ahimsa and not eating meat, which is refreshing to hear (also it was amusing to hear some people say, afterwords, "I understand what he's saying but I can't give up fish. I mean, I've been a VEGETARIAN for ten years because of yoga BUT.") In addition to the knowledge and having actually lived the stuff, he also appears to have that true compassionate nature that only a handful yoga teachers seem to posses. None of that ego or tough-love shit.
Also after lunch yesterday Dharma Mittra discussed what happens when the mind is full of stuff and we act too quickly. He used the example of a person who buys a PC without doing the research, and not only finds it cheaper at another store but comes home with the thing and realizes that what he really wanted was a Mac. Which was *exactly* what I had been discussing with Jack a half hour earlier, several blocks away, over lunch. EXACTLY the same thing. Now *that* was weird.