Wednesday, July 28, 2004

More Random Mysore Nonsense

Some recollection from Sunday's conference. Take as gospel at your own risk.

Jalandhara bandha is only to be engaged during pranayama, not during asana practice.

Savasana is one of the most advanced postures from sixth series; it is not the pose we take at the end of practice. That is called sukhasana. Savasana involves engaging and stiffening every muscle in the body, so that one could be lifted from the floor as stiff as a board. Guruji does not, and has never had, a student who has advanced to this posture.

Someone asked Guruji if he has, or has ever had, a student who practices this posture. We all looked expectantly at Sharath. Guruji and Sharath both laughed and shook their heads no.

In addition to not practicing during the menstrual cycle, female teachers should refrain from teaching during their cycle.

"Ahimsa" means non-violence (technically, non-wounding) in thoughts, words, and deeds.

Someone asked what is meant by dharma. You'll have to look this one up one your own.

As an aside, I do love how people will ask questions about asanas during conference---for example, someone asked Guruji, "How should I approach ardha-sirsasana? I don't have the strength yet to stay up. Should I come down half-way and hold as long as possible, even if it's only a few seconds, or should I not come down as far?"

Guruji talked about reversing the flow of amrita, and elaborated on the correct movement of heat generated during the pose. I think he ignores, misunderstands, or intentionally misunderstands these questions. But after 60 years, how often can you tell someone, "Practice, practice, practice"? Because that's where every physical-related question ends up: practice, practice, practice. If you do something every day, you'll get better at it.

On reflection, I realize that Guruji still manages to say, "Practice, practice, practice" at least four to five times during every conference.  

Sharath Sories:

Sharath is a very funny guy, and these little anecdotes probably don't do him justice. He has this dry and lively sense of humor that betrays his perceptivity and intelligence. He'll punctuate his comments and asides with his little staccato laugh, "huh huh huh!" and a smile that reaches into his eyes.

---Guruji was travelling to his village to perform puja for his late wife, so there was to be a single led class at 5 AM on Sunday. "Class begins at 5, or at 5:30?" a guy in the front row asked. "Five," said Sharath.

The same guy asked, "Should we be here at 4:30?"

"Yes, 4:30."

"So we should be in class at 4:30? The class begins at 5?"

"Yes, yes." Sharath said to him. "But you come Saturday night."

---I was practicing next to a friend who had just been given all of primary series, and who had just begun practicing backbends---and he was struggling. On the mat next to us, Sharath was adjusting someone in kapotasana, an intense and advanced backbend. He was pulling the girl's hands onto her ankles. She was leaking sweat, her breathing was ragged, and she was grunting with exertion.

My friend was staring wide-eyed at the spectacle. Sharath noticed him, and nodded down to the girl he was helping. "Tomorrow, you do."

---I'm not particularly gifted with spinal flexibility. Today I thanked Sharath for helping me with backbends. He made a hammer-and-chisel gesture. "Tomorrow, you bring your own hammer!"