LINO AND THE QUEEN OF THE FUTZERS
This week's self-practice workshop with Lino Miele has been an amazing healing experience. And after just two days of practice (I couldn't go Thursday because I was unable to sub out my classes).
As soon as I stood on my mat and brought my hands into pranamasana, I felt the energy and presence of Pattabhi Jois filling the room. It caught me off guard. Tears of gratitude and reverence started streaming down my cheeks and did not stop for some time. It was like Guruji himself was there.
Finally I collected myself, chanted the opening mantra and began my sun salutations.
It was difficuilt to catch the breath, and I sweated out at least half my weight in toxins as I struggled my way through a rickety second series practice.
From time to time I had to stop and catch my breath. Me - who is always telling the students not to futz.
I have had a modified and rickety little practice since injuring the left ankle a couple of months ago. That, plus chronic back pain has brought my practice back to its origins. After the ankle-twisting incident, I began doing modified sun salutations, then added the standing poses. As the ankle began to heal I did half primary series and then, eventually, a full modified primary series practice. There has been no jumping back or forward or putting weight on the feet in up-dog; there have been easy variations of Marichyasana B and D on the right; I've sat on a block for Triryang Mukha Eka Pada Pashchimottanasana; and have avoided rolling over the feet during vinyasa. For the back, I've sat on a cushion in the twists and used a block between the knees during backbends. I've also been going to a great doctor (and student) who does both chiropractic and acupuncture.
Thanks to her - and the practice, and bike riding, which the ankle loves - last week I felt good enough to add second series poses up to Kapotasana. I gingerly tried the whole second series on Saturday and Monday, modifying Kraunchasana, Bhekasana and Vatayanasana, and nothing bad happened.
But there is no slacking off when your teacher is there.
I kept apologizing to him, and he kept saying, "It's OK. It is only the first day."
My hair was drenched, the clothes were soaked, and the fingertips were wrinkled by the end of practice in that hot, sweaty room - despite having done my usual purifying Monday fruit fast the day before.
Lino got my hands to feet in Kapotasana - which hasn't happened in over a year. I also received many other lovely adjustments from him and Desiree.
I ended up doing 10 backbends. I haven't stood up in eons and did not want to throw out the back again, since I do it with splayed feet (the first time I ever stood up, in 2004, was in Mysore when Lino was practicing right next to me). This week, Lino did dropbacks with me for the first time in... eons. And it didn't hurt at all.
In fact nothing hurt. Not the back. Not the ankle. Nothing.
Lino has the magic.
After class we spoke about my injury, and he told me that the body is the teacher.
We also spoke about my life and I mentioned that some sort of change seems to be in the works.
"Change is good," he said.
"Yes, but before it happens it is scary," I said.
"Life is scary," he replied.
* * *
After this my mood lifted considerably. I pray that it may stay for some time.
I feel like something that was lost has been restored.
How grateful I am to him.
(He so reminds me of Dharma. And vice-versa).
* * *
I have to say the old cliche: "Oh, am I sore."
(But not in any of the previously-injured areas).
The body is not used to being pushed this hard.
It loves it.
But walking up and down stairs is hard.
* * *
Lino is in Chicago through the weekend. He will not be coming back to Chicago anytime soon. So. go. see. him. while. you. can.
* * *
Favorite moment so far:
Looking up at the third eye yesterday while Lino was adjusting me in Yoganidrasana and accidentally reading his t-shirt:
"Ashtanga Yoga Police"
There is nothing like giggling in the middle of practice, when you're on your back, legs behind head, inches from your teacher's funny t-shirt.
Now that's yoga.
Photo of CK and Lino circa 1999, by Chad Satlow.