This second time through India I feel more comfortable with the organized chaos that is this colorful and vibrant country. I feel more presence and peace with each thing or event that doesn't go my way. And I am grateful for the two practices that are a part of my life that have helped me to handle India and all the lessons it offers. Vipassana Meditation and my daily yoga practice. Breath. Awareness. Both of these have taught me to remain equanimous. For the most part of course... because I'm not perfect.
What I mean by this is that every single days since I arrived back here in India, I love it. Every single moment, whether I'm being scammed by a rickshaw driver or given free handmade incense by a virtual stranger, just because... every day feels beautiful. Everyday feels blessed.
I woke up early and went about my daily morning routine and then went to practice at Saraswathi's Yoga Shala for my first day of actual Mysore instruction. This day was totally different than the first day in the main room. To start, the shala is smaller than the main room and warmer. When I arrived it was already full of people from an earlier gathering, (we come at different times) practicing their yoga, "Mysore style". Mysore style is when you practice the Ashtanga sequence (primary series for my class) and teachers (including Saraswathi) walk around the room and help you... individually, throughout your practice. I only confirmed this theory by talking to a woman named Laura from the UK in the locker room.
I found a place to lie my mat out and I started to practice. *sigh... I could hardly remember what came first! I had stage fright or something, it was ridiculous. So I stood in tadasana and closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and attempted to recall all that I knew. Deep breaths. I admit I felt embarrassed a little, which then made me smile when I became aware of it... and so I took another breath or three and reached deep down into my mind and heart and I finally found it... oh yes... Surya Namsakara and then Padangusthasana, followed by pada hastasana, utthita trikonasana and then Utthita Parsvakonasana. It was was at this point though that I came to a stop and had no recollection of what came next. So I smiled. And I waited for a teacher to notice that I wasn't moving.
Sawaswathi came around to me and she asked me, "Are you a beginner?" And I responded, "To Ashtanga yoga, yes." She didn't say anything to that. Instead, she said, "Prasarita Padottanasana". Ohhhhhh!!! And she led me through the vinyasas that made up that sequence. Then she waited to see if I knew which asana came next. I didn't. So she said, "Utthita hasta padangusthasana." So I did the poses that make up that sequence. And again I had no idea what came next. So she stopped me and she said, "Good, now go to the back room and practice it all over again up to this point, from memory."
SooooooOooOooo... what I learned yesterday is that I'm a beginner. And when she asks, "How many poses do you know?" She's referring to how many poses of the Primary Series I've memorized in a row. Basically, "how many poses do you know and have mastered in sequential order". And then I learned that once you master what you know up to that point, you then add three more asanas after that and then you go to the back room (where there aren't any teachers) and you start over and end the class with 14 finishing postures. Now... if you've remembered the whole primary series then when you get to the finishing poses, you go to the back room and do them there... we all go to the back room at different times and by going back there we make room for students that are just arriving.
I feel like this is exactly as it should be. Within this course, you are your own teacher and guidance is there for you right when you need it. It's such a strengthening and empowering form of yoga. Again, I am blessed to be here. :)
Now off to study!