Sunday, March 24, 2013

the end of season

Last intermediate led today. Last conference at 9:30am. Last classes for the season tomorrow morning, two led primaries, 4:30 and 6am. Afterwards, finished! The shala will be officially closed until Saraswathi reopens for June. The buzz is that Sharath will teach again in late October. Six months from now.

Last season, I was here for the start, mid October 2011. The energy is starkly different from now. Then, there was this exuberance, excitement coming from all directions, students from different parts of the world, rev-ing up their practice engines at the same time--so different from the energy throughout the season as people flow into the shala infusing new energy in bursts.

Everyone was fresh, fresh from their home practices, countries, or travels. Sharath, too, started rested. He was in a good mood, joking around with students--downright jovial for Sharath's standards. The overall mood was light, fun, celebratory as old friends/new friends come together for practice. There was this feeling of potentiality in the air as the season starts and unfolds slowly.

Now, I am feeling the contrast between start of season and end of season. These last few days, weeks, have been incredibly intense. Every conversation reveals how everyone is so very tired.

For one, it's hot at the end of March. Dry, heat, day and night. Everyone feels it, most people retreat indoors through the hottest part of the day, which is most of the day.

Most everyone has been here a long enough time. Whether it's three months, two months, one month, there's a cumulative exhaustion. I'm pooped myself and there seems to be no end of it.

Our space holder, Sharath, started teaching in July. That's more than eight months he's been at it. Teaching, adjusting, back bending. He's been managing the flow of the shala. And he's been dealing with all forms of our "crazy" -- our questions and issues that eek out during practice and office hours. His eye-bags have been continuously growing, to no one's surprise as he admitted during conference to having four and a half hours of sleep at the moment. He's visibly tired.

As for the shala as a whole, I can't help but feel that we're all feeding into the same process. We're all ending the season together, all getting ready to move on, shift gears, places, intentions. All coming to some kind of closure, all our varied stories coming into climax then resolution all at once. And that intense collective energy is so powerful, yet so tiring. Like the mounting heat, there's been a fevered pitch to practice. And now, we are getting ready for the denouement...wherever that might take us.

I had my aversions arriving in January. And there's definitely some good reasons for coming earlier in the season. But there's something also special about being here for the close of the shala. This intensity that comes with the end, pushes boundaries. And if your an ashtanga vinyasa practitioner, that transformational push is like fairy dust. There's a pensiveness about, an emotional quality, people are being moved--quite literally too.

There is something tangible about the potency of practicing at the end of season. I felt it so beautifully last Friday's led primary, 4:30 am class. It started with "Om" and you could feel the room vibrating with energy, love, devotion. It was somehow amplified, like invisible waves radiating from god knows where. It was powerful. And at the end, during the closing chant, I felt the collective energy, so clearly attuned. What a special time to be here, I thought, feeling my own emotion swelling within. To end the season together, to see the deep, personal work of many months come to an end. It's inspiring in a different way altogether.

There's also this reverence to the lineage, to the tradition started by Pattabhi Jois. Everyday, there are flowers at the shala altar. There's a certain feel you get from people, this love for practice, this connection to the shala and Sharath. And there's a lot of gratitude going around, towards Sharath, Saraswathi, the assistants and towards each other, our fellow travelers, on this the end of one chapter of our yoga journey.

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