Thursday, 21 May 2009

Intimidated by Mysore? Read on

Had a bit of a lie-in this morning so instead I thought I'd treat you all to part of a discussion I had with my friend Tracy yesterday. She was kind enough to share a video which features Iyengar doing ashtanga (before he decided to give up the vinyasa flow and focus on alignment), to which I responded:
"Wow, that's incredible. The kind of spinal flexibility and core strength I don't even dream about it's so far beyond me!"

Tracy then went on to mention that she's intimidated by Mysore, which drew from me:
"The thing about Mysore is that you kind of just have to take the leap. I am totally intimidated by it, especially when I walk in and there are guys 'warming up' by putting their legs behind their heads, but on the other hand we aren't all trying to do the same things the way we would be in a class, so it's less intimidating in that way. I can just do what I do, without the inherent competition of 'can I get my leg as straight as the guy next to me while we are doing the same pose?' because we aren't doing the same pose, at least not at the same time. So, um, at the risk of having the evangelism of a convert, just go for it!"

Anyway, it got me thinking about competitive yoga, which kind of seems an oxymoron, even though what I really mean by that is the kind of competition I refer to above. Not only external - can I bend in the same way as the guy on my left? - but also internal - can I bend as much as I did last time? And one of the things I try to get out of my yoga practice is the ability to just be. When I get frustrated with my life (wishing I lived somewhere else, wanting a promotion, etc) I try to remember that this is where I am right now, and I can either always be wanting something else and feeling dissatisfied, or I can just be, and get the most of now.

Now, if only I could actually do that...


Tracy said...

Hi Megan!

Have I told you about my favorite moment in a yoga video ever? It's in a Yoga Zone DVD I got from the Eugene public library back in the day, and at one point the instructor actually says, "We're not trying to win yoga." Made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it, and still makes me grin, even just thinking about it.

Anyway. I like the idea of going at my own pace and all, but the whole "remembering a series" part is what most intimidates me about Mysore. That's exactly the kind of challenge I can totally overthink and stress out over, and beat myself up about if I don't live up to my own stupid standards, blah blah blah. But thank you for this post! And that video still totally blows my mind.

Megan Hall said...

That's hysterical, and totally worth remembering.

Don't worry about remembering the series - you start with just a few poses (like - sun salutation, and that's it!) and they add them on one at a time when the teacher thinks you're ready for the next one. By the time you get to pose 6, pose 5 is firmly embedded in your brain and muscles. The teacher I took my intro class from said she hadn't had a new pose in 4 1/2 years!