Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spectator Sport, Second Series Led

A couple of weeks ago, I started noticing that some students would crowd around the door of the lobby in between the primary series led class and the second series led class, which follows primary every Sunday. What was going on here?

For most of my first month here, the 4:30am Sunday led left me mentally crippled so I usually ambled out in a zombie-like state, under-slept and over-tired. I'd seen people hanging about. And I guess I'd simply dismissed it as an odd place/time to linger at the shala. More than anything, the need for a coconut pick-me-up and eventually a retreat back into my own bed superseded any need to figure it out.

Then two weeks ago, I asked my then-roommate what the deal was? She looked at me a little oddly, as if I should have known, shala students can come and watch second series led class. Hm, I hadn't received the memo.

I stayed then, watching over half of the class. But two weeks ago, I was a wreck, still unused to the 4:30 start time. To top it off, I hadn't slept much at all. So, I was a groggy spectator and not even the wow-inducing second series postures could keep my lids from getting heavy.

This morning, however, more used to the early start, I settle on the bench facing the doorway into the shala. There, two of the three rows of students, are within my view. And I watch.

Seeing these advanced practitioners reminds me of how Lord Krishna defined yoga in the Bhagavad Gita: "Skill in action." Beyond the fluidity of one asana after the other, the concentration and will power that each and every student exhibited—-it’s incredible the focus. These elite second series (in this case, the ones recognized by Sharath, and some are beyond 2nd even) students have cultivated something truly special in their practice.

Though I feel somewhat guilty that I am among the many pairs of eyes peering at them as they try to completely throw themselves into the yoga process, I am still glad to have the privilege to do so. I understand though, when someone is looking at you intently, watching your every move, it can be little creepy and a lot annoying. It's like you're on display. It's not really nice.

Still, for someone just getting into second series, I am grateful for the opportunity to quietly observe. (Plus, with very few advanced practitioners in the Philippines, let alone in Boracay, I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen second complete in person).

Watching them get in and out of intermediate poses, is an educational experience. Live lessons.

Sharath teaching second is also special. He has a definite relationship with the students in the room. He knows their practice and he knows their names. He is getting to guide them through more complicated poses. Though he remains strict and maintains the militant counting, I suspect, his manner betrays that somehow he’s having more fun. And it’s nice to see him having fun.

Above any lesson, these students are inspiring. They are living testaments of the amazing things a person can do when you set your mind/heart/soul to it, not to mention the discipline and hard work necessary to cultivate the strength and stamina necessary to do second. It’s a beautiful thing to see, human potential expanding beyond what seems humanly possible.


  1. it is so nice to take classes! enjoy your time early is good! i miss mysore so much

  2. thanks lil, am trying to soak it all up. i'm sure mysore misses you too!