Random thoughts from Saturday at the Confluence

Sorry we’re a bit late with this one. It’s Sunday, post-Mysore already. But with dinner plans last night, MC Yogi (we finally got up a little video, but, again, some computer problems) and the simple need to process all we heard from Richard Freeman on backbending and then Tim Miller and Eddie Stern on Hanuman and Ganesh… well… forgive us a wee delay.

Here’s our thoughts (and Rose posted hers here).

Saturday Mysore:

Bobbie: People were a little more settled in. A few started their practice as soon as they got in the room, in the traditional Mysore way, but mostly there was lots of visiting and talking and people going to each other’s mats. Lots of questions about how people slept. It’s a giant room with a lot of people with a lot in common. It is full of friendly energy.

Steve: The difficult part was not taking too much of what David Swenson had talked about the day before; there’s only so much you can add and alter in a day without wiping the floor with yourself. Or so I’ve found.

Bobbie: The assistants are fantastic, all great teachers in their own right. They aren’t just adjusting, they are teaching as they move about the room. There are even small corrections. Nancy changed by hand position in Urdva Padmasana. It changed the pose for me.

Next, Freeman on backbending:

Steve: He started by noted we’d all already satisfied the workout part of yoga, so we could get to some actual learning. First lesson: Ekam is the first backbend, a little one.

Bobbie: The metaphors flew fast and furious, interwoven with anatomy and Tantra. As a result, I now have a golden tail bone and a cobra hoodie.

Steve: It’s all yours. I have zero idea what he was talking about. Except the cobra thing. Which actually threatens to change my backbends forever.

Bobbie: I didn’t understand most of it, but I loved every minute of it.

Steve: We all know that yoga is the balance of opposites. Richard talked about prana versus apana, and how each has its dark side. Yoga is a relationship, he said, and you are a go-between between these two patterns.

Bobbie: I had the first painless backbend of my life.

Steve: OK, quickly more on this cobra hoodie thing. I realize that my backbend’s support at one end is entirely in my deltoid. That, I now know, is why my backbends are so weak. But from Richard you learn to draw these imaginary cobra hoodies — you can see hints of them in the Patanjali portrait at the top of our page — from your lats and up behind, and suddenly the strength of the backbend is there. Now I also realize why Tim has tried to draw apart my shoulder blades. Same idea, different presentation.

Next, Tim and Eddie:

Bobbie: We received two aspects of the practice. Reverent and irreverent at the same time, that’s Eddie. And Tim: ironical, and warm.

Steve: A basic visual to help with this. Tim looks like SoCal: shorts and a Hanuman T-shirt. Eddie looks like NY: sweater, collared shirt, jeans, a scarf.

Bobbie: We learned some beautiful Sanskrit from Eddie, a Ganesha invocation. He divided the room in two and we chanted “Om Gam Ganapati Namah.”

Steve: That was after Tim told his story of coming to Hanuman. First, via Krishna. And then the Divine Mother. And then an opening of his heart with Hanuman. It’s a story everyone should hear. Eddie after said, “Thanks, Tim. That was beautiful.” It is.

Bobbie: I had a wonderful dovetail moment: John Keats and Ganesha. I learned that Ganesha is the lord of Negative Capability.

Steve: Tim talked about bhakti’s role. When we are all asana — he heard this from Bhagavan Das — you burn yourself up. Devotion keeps you juicy — ojas. You need some bhakti to stay juicy. And then we finished with the Hanuman Chalisa.

Bobbie: Jai Ganesh!

Steve: Jai Hanuman!

Bonus thought from this morning’s Mysore:

Bobbie: Between David’s flying, Richard’s golden tail and Eddie’s threshold, I had the best practice of my life.

Posted by Bobbie and Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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