Thursday, April 22, 2010


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.

Details here.

* * *

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.


  1. omg, am i going to have to do jump throughs this weekend? i'll try to dream about them tonight thru friday night so i'm ready... :)

    great post, ck. nice pic too. i've been reading one of chandra's books on dharma and have some questions for you... you touch on some of the stuff here... but i'm sure you'll hear from me again soon.

    btw, from the bit of the book i've read, i have this image of dharma as kind, but not so personable... bring socks and a towel... he nods at you, you nod at him, etc... in the video lino seems very funny. you said that lino reminds you of dharma. can you expound on that?

    p.s. glad to hear the week is going so well for you!

  2. I'm glad you had such a good time & that your body is feeling good. That helps!!!

    There's a certain point after hurting yourself practicing, that more practice becomes the only thing that makes it better. Odd.

  3. What an amazing opportunity, and how interesting what you say about his energy, I so want to meet him... :-)

  4. Great and interesting post. I wish you had a Facebook type "LIKE" to click here.

    Ralph from DeKalb

  5. Yes, wonderful to read that you liked to be in the workshop with Lino. I hope with your body is verything OK...:)

  6. T-Lo,

    In the old days yes, you brought a towel (to practice on) and socks (for hygiene) to practice at Dharma's. It was carpeted (still is) and sticky mats did not yet exist.

    Dharma and Lino are both funny, although Lino is more outgoing. From my perspective, they both embody compassion and pure love. My heart melts when I see them. They both spent eons of time being close to their guru, and manifest their qualities (I also get the sense that they were both the primary disciples). They both teach psychically (ie; I make huge strides in my practice, even if they're nowhere near me in the room). Also, they are the same size, and say "mozzarella" the same way.

  7. Anonymous7:56 PM

    I live in Richmond, and Lino is teaching here next week for 5 days I think. I have not signed up yet--and wonder if there's a benefit studying w/ him and paying the extra money--as compared with just sticking w/ the local teacher. You make me think he's worth the extra money. What did you gain w/ 5 days of self practice with Lino? Thanks!


  8. Tara,

    He is worth every cent. If the post and previous comment don't convince you, what else will? If it's about penny-pinching, spend the money and save it elsewhere. His teaching is priceless and I doubt he will be coming back to Richmond til at least 2013, if then.

    Is your teacher going to the workshop?


  9. PS

    What you gain is this: You make remarkable progress with your practice. Remarkable and unbelievable.

    If your teacher is going, you should copy her.

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  11. Anonymous7:52 AM

    Hey C.K.! Yes, my teacher is going. Okay--you have convinced me. I just got $300 in the mail yesterday, and so I think I can do it. I'm scared though. My husband's outta work and money's tight. I love the posts about him. If I had not read them, I would never have gone.


  12. I'm so glad you're going, Tara.
    You will not regret it.

    Lino is the closest you can get to studying with Pattabhi Jois these days - and you don't even have to go to India!

    Enjoy the workshop!