BEYOND WORDS: NYC IN RETROSPECT
Seeing Dharma and my Life of a Yogi teacher training classmates again was amazing. It felt like I'd last seen them several years ago, even though our last session was in May (when Dharma turned 69).
After arriving on Friday, I took a taxi straight to the yoga center for Andrei Ram's noon class. We did some poses I'd never tried before, and as usual I could feel him helping me - even though he was on the other side of the room. The body was stiff as could be, and halfway through practice I noticed a massive knot on the right shoulder/neck. It was so painful I gave up doing headstands. Apparently there are some residual effects from the scooter crash in Mysore. Apparently a trip to the chiro is in order.
Sometimes the lower back aches from walking, and on Saturday it seized up after Catesey and I walked to the Prospect Park farmer's market. It was so painful, I thought I'd have to forgo the evening's graduation ceremony. In fact it was too acute even for back exercises. So I lay down for 20 minutes with a bag of frozen spinach at the small of the back and a pillow under the knees, in the hopes it would stop throbbing. It calmed it down enough to do some very gentle back exercises, which calmed it down even more.
That night, at the shala, the back was fine for Dharma's three hour Maha Sadhana class. Tears started streaming the second I laid eyes Dharma, who spoke about the spark of light that resides in the heart of all living creatures. I took it easy as he led us through an intermediate-level sequence that featured a lot of repeated poses. Later, during graduation, there were more tears as I watched the fellow trainees receive their certificates. I felt genuine love even for the ones I hadn't liked very much; Dharma has that effect on people.
On Monday I took Dharma's noon Master Class. It. was. hell. The body was tired and felt broken, and was resistant to the many handstands, pigeons and Hanumanasanas (splits) we did. But by the end of practice even I was trying the incredibly inventive inversion-backbend sequence he showed us.
During the next day's Master Class, the body started to feel more like it had before I went to India - when I was still doing Dharma Mittra yoga (in addition to the ashtanga) and eating a mostly-raw diet. In other words, it was becoming purified. Dharma showed us another inventive sequence, which built off the previous day's and included Couch Pose - easily the most uncomfortable asana I've ever encountered (you sit on the heels with the toes curled under and go into a deep, deep backbend).
Yet in his presence the body was able to do it - for the first time ever.
With the right teacher - guru - and the right intention, anything is possible.
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These photos were snapped out the window during a madcap drive with Little E. from Manhattan to Brooklyn via Chinatown (where, it seems, everyone is in a hurry).