Sunday, January 8, 2012

surviving led second

Kapotasana B and my right leg is shaking. I try to ground it. I try --unsuccessfully--to take full chest-filled breaths. I think, this could be the moment I spontaneously explode. That would be the first in the shala. Student cracks under pressure, kapo takes innocent victim. Then Sharath gets to "5". And somehow I survive it, like the rest of the class.

When I woke up this morning of my own volition, my first thought was worry, had I missed my alarm? Had I missed my first led intermediate class. It was 2:45am, 5 hours and 45 minutes before the 7:30 start time. Needless to say, I was excited. And not a little worried.

When I arrived at the shala, however, the worry started to dissipate. There's something light and even celebratory (or maybe that's just me projecting!) about waiting for the class. Not only is it later in the morning but the mood seems so different from the high intensity of the crowd waiting for led primary. It's hard to pinpoint it, exactly. But there's a certain levity in the people hanging about the steps, many quietly chit-chatting. And there's no pushing towards the door as we shuffle in.

It's a big group, however, the largest of the season. People lay their mats out on the stage. Along the corners of the room straight onto the marble. And in the right hand corner, last row where I'm at, we're practically mat to mat. It's tight, but manageable with mindfulness.

Sharath seems game as he overlooks the sea of yoga students practicing intermediate series. There are a lot of teachers in there too. The energy is potent. It's subtle and not in any way chaotic. It's the kind of energy that carries you. And together, we start with sun salutations, building heat, he counts slowly.

As we get to the intermediate poses, I realize how much this will improve my practice. How little attention I've put into the precision of breath in this series and how much I will learn from attending these classes. It's so different to be led through these intense poses. There is no room for fear, though I have a quick moment before kapotasana, a stuttering thought that went something like oh my God, here we go... And then it passes.

I stop like I'm supposed to at ekapada sirsana, with at least another 2 people in the room. We're the first to sit. Sharath eyes me and another, "More practice." Sure, thing, Boss Man! No problem.

And for the rest of the time I wrap myself up in my towel, I continue to breathe deeply, and I sit back and watch with awe the feats human beings can do with enough focus, hard work, dedication and practice.

I've sat in the lobby several times to watch led second. And I've felt inspired and amazed by the practitioners. But to see it from the inside, to feel the vibrations in that room, people's energy focused on their own individual effort yet feeding into this incredible group force. There is some serious mojo in there and it is captivating.

I wait and rejoin the bulk of the room into finishing. I'm a bit cold, but that little matters. I want to feel the room, the collective energy through backbending, sarvangasana, and sirsasana. I'm less tired than usual, having sat through half of intermediate and manage to hold uplutihih, a minor miracle. I feel joy and satisfaction as Sharath lets us take rest, the first full rest I've been given in the shala this entire trip.

It is incredible to be here in India, in Mysore, practicing at the shala. I am filled with gratitude that this is a part of my life. That this incredibly human-generated energy is not just something I can access but something I contribute to.


  1. Conference followed led intermediate today at 10am. Will write about it soon. It was yet another great conference. Sharath just keeps on topping himself. Really inspiring!

  2. So inspiring to read this Kaz, thank you.

  3. Kaz, here's my post from last year about led intermediate. I (and, I surmise, many others) totally experienced it as a love fest then too... :-)

    See you in a few hours.