This week has mostly been a fairly lax week of asana due to Masterji suffering from a nasty bout of flu. He still turned up to class, but for three days he just sat on a chair in the corner of the room looking like a man who clearly needed to be in bed. But during this time he still watched us – you could feel his eyes on you every time you contemplated a lazy short-cut or reached a posture you struggled with, encouraging you to try harder from afar. Perhaps he has some kind of ultra-yogi mind power…?!
Before he became ill, he’d told me to start alternating second series with primary series each day. So the first day of second series loomed and Masterji watched closely from his sick-chair. Every time I reached a problem posture I turned to him with a questioning look, but he just made an impatient gesture to keep going. ‘Do as much as you can,’ he said. By the end of the class I’d completed the whole of the series, albeit shambolically, and collapsed in a sweaty heap. Afterwards, he gave me the withering look of someone who doesn’t know where to start with his comments, and muttered something about cake mixture. Ominous…
Anyway, yesterday was second series day again, and Masterji was back to a picture of twinkly-eyed, good-humoured health – it was lovely to have him back. That is, until he sat down next to my mat as I reached the first second series posture, and then didn’t let up on me until we ran out of time and I had to start finishing sequence. For all his warmth and mellowness, he is also a pretty feisty task-master!
Each posture was broken-down, with explanations of which part of the body it’s opening up, then I had to do it as many times as was required to satisfy him that I’d ‘got’ the posture. The way he teaches postures is often quite different from how I’m used to (like kapotasana with the knees and feet together – errr… hello?!), and he also introduced a few that I’d never even seen before (like the ridiculously difficult version of dwi pada that I’ve attempted to draw below). But when I said this he retorted, “Why you questioning me? This is what I’m teaching you. This is what my teacher taught me!” And guess who his teacher was? Just some guy called Pattabhi Jois. So I guess I wasn’t really in a position to argue… 😉
Anyway, he seemed to be having a whale of a time, chuckling away heartily as I huffed and puffed, offering such gems as, ‘Poor Becky has never known pain like this before!’ and ‘You are good cake mixture – if you listen to me we can bake a delicious cake!’ and ‘It is such a joy to teach these beautiful postures!” Well, at least he was having fun…
But, actually, I had fun too. It was great to be truly pushed and to feel someone investing their decades of knowledge into my humble practice. I learnt so much and really felt my body starting to open up in the right places. I was buzzing afterwards… 🙂
I am compiling a list of teaching tips and hints that I’m learning elsewhere, so will do an uber-nerdy post for yoga geeks at some point soon. But, for now, it is time to relax, with no yoga until Monday morning. I am on strict orders from Masterji to eat lots of ghee, honey and ‘anything else that tastes delicious to me’, which apparently comes straight from the Hatha Yoga Pradapika as a recommendation to those learning lots of new asanas. Sounds quite alright to me… 😉