Monday, November 27, 2006


Two students came late to the Mysore (self-practice) ashtanga yoga class.

Late as in they began setting up their mats and assorted props and sundries 15 minutes before class ended.

It was not a big deal since the teacher was sticking around to do her own practice after class anyway.

The teacher didn't give them any help, however, because 1) She was off the clock 2) She was focusing on her own practice 3) She believes such behavior rewards tardiness, and 4) They didn't ask for any.

At a couple of points the teacher left the room to attend to some business, and returned later to pick up where she'd left off.

Upon one return, the students told her they had been watching her and were concerned about her practice.

Apparently she'd been dangling her head in Caturanga Dandasana (a sort of push-up) and doing some weird neck-thing in Uttanasana (standing forward bend).

She conceded, and explained she was in pain from teaching the previous day's Mysore class and had been rushing thru Caturanga to get it over with as quickly as possible. They made suggestions about her shoulder placement and one of them even adjusted her.

It felt good.

Damn good.

Later one of them kindly offered her an adjustment in Supta Vajrasana, which she politely decllined. The shelf under which she'd wedged her knees worked just fine.

After seeing her barely grasping her thigh in her bloated, post-Thanksgiving rendition of an intense seated twist called Ardha Matsyendrasana, one of them suggested she modify the pose and showed her the options.... much the same way she'd often explained the same modifications to her newest beginning students. The teacher, slightly defensive, said something about having back issues and the twist being deep enough as it was. The suggestor said the modificiations had been learnt from Famous Iyengar Teachers.

The teacher, who'd learnt her own modifications for various poses from 1) Famous Ashtanga Teachers* 2) The many workshops, intensives and retreats she'd attended and written about over the past decade, and 3) By working with her own tight, old and misshapen body and those of her students, held her tongue and did the pose her way.

It was also suggested that she go to a teacher who is well- known for knowing many ashtanga modifications, particularly for the injured.

The teacher was nonplussed.

The ego however was not confused.

It was annoyed.

But the practice went on, such as it was.

And the mouth remained closed, and no words about proper drishti (gazing point) and so on spewed forth.

Not til much later, anyway, when the hands took over and began typing up a storm.


* Famous Ashtanga Teachers such as Maty Ezraty and the Millers Chuck and TIm, among others.


  1. I love your writing.. its so.... pithy... (which could be someone with a lithsp saying pissy, but you know what I mean)

    anyway, what a bore having to hold your tongue but a fine example of self discipline and control - surely side effects of all your hundred years of practice (to their 2, probably)

    Think I would have stared em down and said in my best East End Steven Berkoff voice "you facking looking at me?"

    or not. :)
    Dr D x

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