WHAT PART OF "SAUCHA" DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?
Today's Vocabulary Word:
Saucha = Sanskrit for "cleanliness"
As usual I was in the front row at Friday's led primary series class. It all seemed to be going well until the man next to me and his adjacent buddy were told to stop at the Marichyasanas (ie, before the halfway point). Instead of sitting still and facing forward or meditating or pretending to meditate, they turned around and made a big show of watching the class -- which was facing them -- continue their practice. Their heads turned this way and that as they stared at various people struggling to do the various poses. As if that weren't annoying enough -- and it was -- they began talking to each other! I shusshed them while in Supta Kurmasana -- no small thing while you are face down, legs behind your head. I think I actually said, "Shut it!" But they started up again a short time later.
(Someone also shusshed Flatsie the other day in the closing room, when she was doing her noisy and verboten kapalabhati breathing).
Today one of those Mr. Natural types plopped down his mat next to mine. He already smelled of body odor. As the practice progressed it became so strong I almost gagged (which in hindsight probably would have helped me with uddiyana bandha -- the abdominal lock I'm trying to engage in backbends). I wanted to ask, "What part of saucha don't you understand?" since one of the basic tenets of ashtanga yoga is keeping one's effing body clean.
Which brings us to today's print-n-clip-n-save entry:
Do your pre-practice warmups at home.
Practice saucha, which is one of the yamas and part of the eight limbs of yoga. Keep your mat, towel and person clean. Bringing bad smells to class is not part of the ashtanga practice. If you have a faulty sniffer, err on the side of being too clean rather than too dirty.
Use mula bandha. Contain your farts.
No homesteading. Space at the shala is scarce. Leave the extra wide mats and rugs at home. Live with the fact that there will only be an inch or two between your mat and the person next to you. Same goes for the closing room.
No bullfighting. Whipping around your mat before putting it down creates the equivalent of an icy, gale-force wind for the people who are already practicing and have built up heat. Unfurl your mat slowly. Same goes for the closing room.
Don't come to class sick. The shala is a humid petri dish where everyone is (or should be) focusing on their breathing. By coming to class sick, you infect everyone else and, even worse, could get Guruji sick. And when you do come to class sick (and you will), don't put your dirty snot-rag on someone else's mat.
Don't eat a lot of garlic or onions the night before class; it's non-sattvic and offensive to your teachers.
The shala clock is fast. About 11 minutes fast. Set your watch accordingly.
Don't come before your scheduled time. If Sharath says 6:45, come at 6:45 -- not 6:35. If you do come early, wait for the others to go first. Order is not determined by who gets to the shala first but by the date of your first practice.
Don't come after your time, or Guruji will ask in a hurt voice, "Why late?"
If you sweat a lot, bring an extra towel for the teacher.
If you smack or kick someone, apologize so they know it wasn't on purpose.
Even if it was on purpose, apologize anyway.
If you get stopped partway through the series in a talk-through class, practice in the back of the room so you don't disrupt those who are continuing.
Getting stopped partway through the series should not be interpreted as an opportunity to practice other poses or to catch up with friends. Be still. And maintain silence! There are signs posted to this effect all over the shala, in case you forget.
Don't do savasana (corpse pose) backwards, or someone may stomp on your head.
Don't do extra poses in the closing room. You signed a contract agreeing that you would stop when told to stop. Honor it.
Respect the culture. Don't dress like a slob, harlot or street person outside the shala. A woman wearing a single toe-ring on one foot denotes a prostitute; one on each foot means you're married. A woman's bare shoulders/ankles/calves are considered obscene. No public displays of affection (unless you want to find out what the jails are like). Use your right hand to eat and hand people money. Do some research before you come.
Say hello to others who greet you. Acknowledge their existence. Show that the divinity within you recognizes the divinity within them -- even if you don't like them.. That's the real yoga.