Arriving in the morning, greeted by the bright yellow studio walls and Mary Taylor's (Richard's wife and co-teacher in the training) equally bright smile, it felt a bit like the first day of summer camp. Rolling out my mat with less than 1/2 cm between it and my neighbors' on either side, I quickly scanned the room taking note of the other trainees. There was almost an equal split between men and women, all ages (though with yogis you can never really tell anyone's true age), and, most remarkably, a truly international group. There are people here from Poland, Germany, Russia, Austria, Australia, Hawaii, Taiwan, London, Ireland, and a small handful of us from the US.
Richard strolled in shortly before 8:00, called us to Samastitih (the starting position for the Ashtanga practice) and declared his lifelong goal of completing "the world's slowest Primary Series practice where it takes eons to perform one single sun salutation" to which we all chuckled, partially believing him. This is one of the things I find so fascinating and outstanding about Richard and his teaching. He so seamlessly intermingles reality with metaphor that the lines often get blurred to the point where you don't really know what's real and what is imagined. The practice then becomes something other than, as he would put it, our mere theories about it. We can release the need to verbalize or theorize about what is happening and simply drop right into the moment to experience it beyond the realm of linguistics. So, when Richard talks about inflating our kidney wings with the inhale breath or leading into Upward Facing Dog pose by coiling in our dragon tail, we really experience that and the whole practice becomes larger in our bodies than we ever could have theorized with our minds.
It took us 2 hours to get through postures that typically take about 15 minutes in a guided class, so we approached them with such intricate attention to detail that it was as though I was doing them for the very first time... every time. After a short break, we spent about 90 minutes learning and chanting the Sanskrit alphabet as well as a few chants and in the afternoon we enjoyed a 2 hour lecture all about the knee joint. And yes... I did say "enjoyed" because Asha Wolf, the brilliant woman leading the weekly anatomy lectures, truly made it an enjoyable experience, a far cry from the sometimes dry nature of typical anatomy study. We applied knowledge about the anatomy and bio-mechanics of the knee to some typical yoga postures - including padmasana (lotus) and virasana (hero's pose) - to determine the best course of action for healing and preventing knee injuries. I am very excited to take all of this information back to my students as knee pain is highly common.
The rest of the day consisted of dinner, reading, and a much-needed full night's sleep.
More to come soon, thanks for reading!
Love and Om,