Misc Meanderings from 2nd Series Adjustment Clinic with Nancy
Bristol, VT Aug. 24-29
THE BEAUTY OF THIS SYSTEM IS THE TEACHER LEARNS HOW TO SPEAK WITH THEIR HANDS. In this practice we do not give a lot of verbal cues. Instead we help you move your body into the position. In doing this you feel the posture; your muscles have their own memory, known as muscle memory, over time your muscles remember the posture –this requires less thinking from you allowing you to make your practice a moving meditation. The more cues we give, the more we are putting in your head–the more you have to clear out of your head!
Although we do give just enough cues to keep the class moving together. In a class situation it is very grounding and connecting to move in rhythm with each other. We swim together like a school of fish for a while, connecting, then we scatter and go about our lives with a feeling of being grounded and still connected. Moving with the teachers cue is important to feel this connection, so please be patient in led classes and move with the cue and feel the energy of the class.
GURUJI NEVER HELD ANYBODY BACK BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT DO A POSTURE Now a days, since the practice has grown, many people are not being allowed to practice full primary if they can not get a bind, or “complete” a posture. This is detrimental, albeit part of the growing pains of a practice that has grown exponentially over the past several years. 75-80% of the population will never bind in Marichyasana D, so why hold so many people back when postures that come a0er that in the practice are very beneficial–and many of them help you get the more challenging core postures like Mari D! This mentality imposes a cookie cutter shape on practitioners and does not allow for individuality–many different body types–in the practice.
The way to progress in this practice is not by “mastering a pose”–really we never master a pose and if we think we did then we are limiting ourselves. THE WAY TO PROGRESS WITH THIS PRACTICE IS TO HAVE A CONSISTENT PRACTICE AS MANY DAYS PER WEEK AS YOU CAN. Consistency over a long period of time is what is important for progression. This way you get to know your body well and you know where your body is in the asana. Staying in Primary Series for many years without getting the counterbalance of the back bends in the second series can set you up for a weak lower back, hip and/or knee pain. If you are practicing consistently at least 4-6 days per week you should be moving into second a0er about a year in the practice.
Here is Nancy’s story about her first trip to Mysore:
She and David went to mysore for 4 months in 1973. in 2 months they had been given both full primary and 2nd, each day he would give them four new postures–two in the morning practice and two in the a0ernoon practice–they did this practice twice a day! so by the end of the second month they were practicing full primary and 2nd twice a day, once in the morning, once in the a0er noon. At about 2-1/2 months guruji had them go home a0er the morning practice and rest a bit, then come back and he taught them pranayama and did it with them. When they le0 at the end of four months he wrote out a syllabus for them of primary and second, told them to do primary one day and second the next, stating that living at home with householder responsibilities would not allow them the time and energy to do so much asana twice a day.
They went home to CA and practiced together for two years. Then they rec’d a letter in the mail from Guruji telling them he wanted to come to the states to see them. So David decided he would set aside $10 each week to save up enough money to fly Guruji there, when he told this to their students, they did not want to wait that long! and raised the money to have Guruji come right away. So he came 🙂 with Manju and stayed with them for four months in their home. During this time Manju started Nancy on third series, just the headstand/arm balances at the end of 2nd as Nancy taught me. Guruji rarely assisted david as david did not need much help (maybe that is why david does not like to assist his students!) but he always put nancy in most every pose and in the beginning also carried her through the vinyasas! On their first trip to mysore he spent a lot of time with them. Practice twice a day, pranayama, and they spent a lot of time with the family. Ramesh would take them around and show them India and Amma would cook for them and put oil on their head and teach them ayurvedic and Indian ways.
And a little tidbit from Berlin
Nancy was telling a how she had asked Guruji to come live in Maui for a couple years to teach teachers how to teach Ashtanga Yoga correctly . . . Guruji was interested in coming for a period of years but of course Amma would not let him . . . but his response to Nancy was something along the lines of (I can not remember her exact words); if a person gets exposed to yoga they are blessed, even if it is not the perfect or correct way, they are blessed to have experienced it.
And I think those that get exposed even to “bad” yoga (if there is such a thing) if they are interested in the path, will find the authentic forms.