Saturday, July 17, 2010


Last weekend I made a stealthy visit to NYC.

In fact, I was taking Dharma's Maha Sadhana one week ago at this very moment.

The plan was to take as many classes with Dharma as possible, and co-teach a workshop on Yoga For Depression and Anxiety with Little E on Long Island.

I arrived a half hour early on Friday - Early! from ORD to LGA, this is unheard of - and spent some quiet time in the park before heading to Andrei Ram's noon master class. I'd taught five classes the day before, and needed to sit still.

It was hot in NYC, and I sweated buckets in class. But I did not fall out of the poses early - which was the goal.

Andrei taught us an easy prep for Ganda Bherundasana - which I've been trying to figure out for awhile. Even my sad stiff back could do his variation.

After having a coconut at the health food store, I made my way south to Angelica Kitchen for the traditional Wee Dragon Bargain meal. There, I ran into T and her husband.

This sign was in front:

Afterwords I headed to Catesey's in Williamsburg - where it seemed to be even hotter and more humid than Manhattan. He was out of town, and there seemed to be no reason to stay.

In fact, it was so hot in his wee white artist's railroad flat that I placed a call to Little E, asking if I could come out a day early to Long Island. I could. And I did - taking two subways to Penn Station and the Long Island Railroad.

You have not experienced full-on rajas until you have stood in Penn Station during Friday evening rush hour, standing with the crowd in the heat watching the tote board and waiting to find out which track your train will be on. The number doesn't come up until the very last moment. As soon as it does, everyone rushes downstairs to the proper track and tries to get a seat before the train leaves. It's like being in India - only hotter. And less organized.

* * *

Saturday's Maha Sadhana with Dharma was amazing of course. It was not overcrowded, probably due to the fact that it was the middle of summer (and some 80 or more teacher trainees graduated after the previous month's Maha Sadhana). (I bet you can't guess which certified ashtanga teacher was taking classes with Dharma all week!). It was wonderful to see Dharma-ji of course. The tears started the moment I laid eyes on him.

* * *

After our workshop on Sunday, Little E and I spent a few minutes taking the air at the waterfront. I put my feet in and in no time they were covered with seaweed.

Then we headed to the Reflexology/massage place. O.M.G. it was amazing. Amazing. Usually I'm zonked after giving a workshop, but that hour made everything better.

Later, after watching the final few moments of the the World Cup, we headed to the Indo-Pak buffet for our traditional Sunday night meal. The place we go to has the best Indian food I've had anywhere - including India.

* * *

We gassed up the car the next morning, before heading to Manhattan. Gas appears to be much cheaper out east. Plus they pump it for you.

During the drive in, we saw this truck:

When we pulled up next to it, we pumped our arms up and down like schoolchildren, and the driver honked his horn for us.

The Noon master class was amazing of course. Again it was incredibly hot. And again the goal was to hold the poses until Dharma told us to release them. I think I counted off 40 breaths in Parvritta Parsvakonasana. The other goal was to try the poses that were "scary," even if I "knew" I couldn't do them. When it came time for Ganda B, I first did the Andrei Ram version (fingers pointing back). Then I asked Little E to help me into the "real" version. She got my legs up, but they were nowhere near my head. The pose take tons of strength on top of flexibility. And balance. At the end of class, Dharma spoke about karma and suffering.

After coconuts I checked into the hotel, took a shower, and sat quietly. Then it was time for Dharma's evening class - which seemed almost as challenging as the two-hour Noon master class (I counted 45 breaths in Parvritta Parsvokonasana). It was so intense that later on I got some Epsom salt and soaked in the community bathtub at the hotel. (I figured the salt would kill whatever germs were there).

After class, U and I sat outside in the East Village, eating vegan pizza and watching the people... followed by consuming vegan ice cream and more of the same. Wonderful.

Tuesday's master class was another warm, sweaty, intense two hours of fun. Afterwords, Dharma spoke about how our happiness is derived from temporary things, such as our job and our yoga practice and our iPod (he always mentions the iPod) and so on. He said that even he will one day have to stop practicing and teaching yoga. Then what? He will still have his back-up light - the fruits of his yoga sadhana (spiritual practice). That is what we'll have left when we're "old and poor and all our friends are dead and nobody loves us." It never goes to waste.

Before class, I'd learned that my flight had been canceled and I'd been rebooked on a later flight. During lunch, I learned that the flight was delayed. And delayed again.

So I got some food-for-travel here:

Then I headed to Union Square to look for some cotton yoga tops (I finally decided that the high-tech stuff is way too hot in the summer). It was raining, and the pavement was beautiful.

Catesey, just in from upstate, joined me for a bite at Whole Foods. There we waited in line for eons to pay for his overpriced sandwich. There is an elaborate, high-tech system for getting the lines to move. It doesn't really work. But it is rather impressive.

(You can't see them, but there are, like, 50 people waiting in lines below the sign. Not one of them was smiling).

Afterwords I headed to the airport. On the way, I learned that my flight was delayed. And then it was delayed again. But I didn't care. I had my backup light. And a book to read. And some vegan sushi to eat. The last two things were temporary. But not the first one.

Plus I saw this on the cab-ride to the airport:


  1. What a jam packed weekend!!!

    I cannot guess which certified teacher. Curious.

  2. very cool story & photos. certified teacher-eddie stern?

  3. I think that Eddie may have gone to Dharma before he found Pattabji Jois.
    So no, it wasn't him.

  4. Nice post! H was in New York last week too.

  5. What an interesting blog!!

    Is there a story about your picture of the house with trees taking over and fenced in?

  6. rhh-
    Thank you!
    The house is on the other side of Stuyvesant Square park.

  7. There must be some kind of story behind this house. It is so 'different'. I just wonder about its history and why it is like this.

    Ralph from DeKalb

  8. Dear Ralph,

    You could Google it.

    You may find this