Ashtanga and irony

I’ve been reading a whole rash of “list” blog posts. Some of them have been yoga-related, some not; but the yoga-related ones seem to focus on, “things I wish I’d known,” “things I do I shouldn’t”–that sort of thing. Steve even did one.

These posts were knocking around in my head while I was watching this video of Guruji teaching part of Intermediate to Richard, Maty, Chuck, Tim, Kate, and Eddie. Everyone is young, focused and earnest. Drishtis are in order. Ujayi perfect (look at those ribcages move!). I wondered what these Ashtangis would think of our lists. But I was also keeping my eye on Guruji, listening to the count (which is a rare thing to hear these days, since second series is mostly confined to the Mysore room), and I was struck once again by his voice.

Even though I wasn’t lucky enough to ever meet Guruji or practice with him, I’ve practiced to that voice before. I’ve done any number of led classes at this point in my life, and those teachers who heard Guruji teach imitate his voice when they teach a led class.

Now, that probably comes as no surprise to you. But what I detect in the imitations is just a hint of irony.

I had a teacher years ago in grad school who had an amazing Romanian accent. I sat in on one of her undergrad classes once and listened to her read parts of  “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” with that accent, and to this day, when I read that poem, I hear her voice. When I read the poem to my students, I sometimes imitate it, putting an exotic twist on its sound. I do it with an emphasis on twist, though: with humor.

So it struck me that something’s been transferred with the lineage, some quality of lightness that maybe the first generation students heard, and then magnified in their imitations. Or maybe they didn’t exactly hear it, but they feel it. Some wry affection for the teacher that, perhaps, and with love, will keep growing.

Posted by Bobbie

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Ashtanga and irony”

  1. Mimicry is the best form of a compliment. Funnily enough I was trying to tell my ten year old son the count, and I could hear his voice trying to pervade my own through mental echo. A blessing every time I hear it.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s