My new mantra: “Wheeeee!”

You walk into the room, and the heavy hitters are on deck. There are giant images of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: Guruji is watching. On either side, murtis: Ganesha and Hanumanji, decked in flowers, with prasad at their feet.

At the front of the room, Eddie Stern calls samastithi. He is flanked by Nancy Gilgoff, Tim Miller, Dena Kingsberg, and an impressive collection of authorized and certified teachers that are also their students (and in some cases, spouses). The opening mantra begins.

Steve and I are up front. My brand new second series practice will be on display. I have butterflies. I know Steve does, too. The awesome sound of 150 or so Ashtangis thanking the lineage resonates in the room, vibrates in the walls and in my chest. We begin.

I was tense and careful through the opening sun salutes, the first standing poses, thinking about this or that pose to come. Then, something happened. I’m not quite sure what it was, but I stopped for a moment and listened to the room. Lots of breath. But also, I heard Tim’s laugh. It occurred to me how silly it was to be nervous. I mean, it’s just asana. I’ll never be here again, I thought. Why not have fun?

You may know, Dear Reader, that I’m a classroom teacher. I teach writing to college freshmen. I was at one time what you might call a serious academic–tenure track, publishing, conference papers on British Romanticism, etc. etc. I quit that gig because it wasn’t fun. It was stressing me out. I teach writing to freshmen now because it’s fun, and I’ve said for a long time now the minute it stops being fun, I’ll do something else. So I go out of my way to keep it fun.

Let there be light!
Let there be light!

The thought flashed through my head, Why should this moment be any different? Nobody in the room cares about how perfect my trikonasana is. Perfection isn’t the point of the practice (“They call it ‘practice,’ not ‘perfect,’ Shayna used to say). I’ll never be here again, I repeated in my head. Have fun. So I did.

I lighted up. I breathed. I practiced. Leigha Nicole gave me an awesome eka pada adjustment while saying, “Look at you: business in the front, party in the back!” Tim wandered by and cracked a joke, and we laughed together. I fell out of pincha mayurasana and Dominic came to my rescue, saying, “Hey, no shame, no blame!” Eddie had Steve laughing and maybe crying a little in backbends. David Swenson had wandered in (even after teaching his led class) and flashed me a big smile as he dropped me back. It was a non-stop party in my head.

My big take-away from the 2013 Ashtanga Yoga Confluence: Wheeee!…Again!

Posted by Bobbie

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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