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

Mercury Day poetry: U2’s ‘Bad’

I referred briefly to this song by U2 in a post on Monday. It’s called “Bad,” for you few who might not know it. It’s from “The Unforgettable Fire.”


If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would
Let it go

If I could throw this
Lifeless lifeline to the wind
Leave this heart of clay
See you walk, walk away
Into the night
And through the rain
Into the half-light
And through the flame

If I could through myself
Set your spirit free
I’d lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day

To let it go
And so to fade away
To let it go
And so fade away

I’m wide awake
I’m wide awake
Wide awake
I’m not sleeping
Oh, no, no, no

If you should ask then maybe they’d
Tell you what I would say
True colors fly in blue and black
Bruised silken sky and burning flag
Colors crash, collide in blood shot eyes

If I could, you know I would
If I could, I would
Let it go…

This desparation
In temptation
Let it go

And so fade away
To let it go
And so fade away
To let it go
And so to fade away

I’m wide awake
I’m wide awake
Wide awake
I’m not sleeping
Oh, no, no, no


My nearly all accounts, it’s a lot better “live” than in a studio/recorded session. You be the judge. (Don’t judge Bono’s hair though!)

Posted by Steve

Mercury day poetry

In keeping with yesterday’s post, today’s Mercury day poem is by another Bengali poet, the immortal Rabindranath Tagore. Although Tagore is famous in the West for his “mystic” poetry, he also wrote novels and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. His poems were widely known in Europe and America during his lifetime (back in the day when poets had “fans”–we live in dark times for poets). I’m most impressed with his economy and simultaneous intensity, and that he acted as his own translator! Enjoy.

In the Dusky Path of a Dream

In the dusky path of a dream I went to seek the love who was mine in a former life.

Her house stood at the end of a desolate street.

In the evening breeze her pet peacock sat drowsing on its perch, and the pigeons

were silent in their corner.


She set her lamp down by the portal and stood before me.

She raised her large eyes to my face and mutely asked, ‘Are you well, my friend?’

I tried to answer, but our language had been lost and forgotten.


I thought and thought; our names would not come to my mind.

Tears shone in her eyes. She held up her right and to me. I took it and stood silent.


Our lamp had flickered in the evening breeze and died.


Posted by Bobbie