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For the love of the led Primary

November 11, 2011

I love led first. There, I said it.

It’s very tempting here to write another “list” post (TOP TEN REASONS WHY I LOVE LED), but I’m going to forego that for old-fashioned paragraphs.

It should be said that the first few years of my practice were exclusively led classes. This was mostly because I was lazy, a writer, and not a morning person. (Still true. I often think of Neil Gaiman’s line: “I am not a morning person in the exact same sense that I am not a fruit bat.”) Ashtanga, to me, was led by a teacher.

I still look back on that time as precious. I learned something every single class, and each thing I learned was transformative. I remember the day I learned ujjayi breathing. I remember the class I learned to follow it rather than have it follow me. I remember finding mula bandha by pressing down my big toes, the class I learned to push into my head in prasarita, and the day I learned the opening prayer (my teachers said it along with us–including Tim). All of these things were because of encouragement that came from a led class.

savasana

Savasan-ahhh at Omkar108.

So this morning I was a little sad to hear some grumbling about led in Jörgen’s class. Led is where the magic happens. You are wrapped up in the teacher shakti. You do more than you thought you could. You are reminded when you slip (“Exhale fully!” Jörgen says). This is discipline. You must listen to the count. Yes, you know what’s coming, but you must surrender yourself to a different beat–the beat of the room, breaths measured out by the teacher. No rushing! Chatuari down! (said now in layers of teachers’ voices in my head.)

The most important thing I learned from all those led classes was that beat. My first Ashtanga teacher told me there is an exact number of breaths in the Primary. Every practice has the potential to have the same number of inhales, exhales. The breath is time. The time is the string that holds the beads of the poses together. Beautiful.

Did that work out to ten reasons? I don’t know. Who’s counting?

Posted by Bobbie

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2011 2:40 am

    I agree with literally everything you wrote in this post. Every single thing — the breath, the beat. (Probably the first and last time that will happen! ;-) ) I did not have the choice to go a Mysore path, so I never experienced learning strictly that way. Words, cadences and adjustments would be what would seep into deeper layers of my body, mind and spirit. I think there is poetry to the way words can be strung together in a led class to help students find their way.

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