I'd been doing half-Intermediate (that's up to Eka Pada Sirsasana) all week, and struggling with the core postures (Pasasana, Kapo), which is my usual score on Intermediate. When I was doing the whole thing a year ago, I struggled with the other two core postures as well (Dwi Pada Sirsasana, Karandavasana).
Yesterday afternoon I was racing down the basement stairs to feed the cats and trying not to leave the child alone too long, and some hip spasm raced through my right side, making it very difficult to walk, squat, or do much but hobble and/or lie down. The paranoid reading is "too much Intermediate series, young Jedi!" but I see no reason for that to be true. Sure, there's a whitish-electric opening in the right hip in particular in all twists from Parivrtta Parsvakonasana and especially in Pasasana, but I had that a year ago too and it didn't tweak the hip. I prefer to see this as simply one of those random "ow, yipes" things that happens like when you "sleep wrong" on one shoulder and wind up all hung up in the midback the whole next day. It's better today but sore all throughout that hip. We'll see if it permits a Primary with Kino a week from tomorrow.
On Tuesday I'll be 41 years old. Age doesn't confront me personally, because it's low in my identity mix, but when I think about being 41 with a two-year old, it's weird, in large part because Indiana is a "get married by 22" state, and so most people with 2 year olds are my undergraduates' age. Now I'm told that even in-state, the trend is for parents to be my age, and I know that's true nationally as well. Still, it does something to my sense of myself, which I think is turn up the volume of my chronological age versus my "felt" age which is still somewhere around 26 or so. Maybe Timiji is right about that: if you want to feel 25, you take practice. I hope I can take practice tomorrow, I already miss it. And yeah I know it's Saturday, but when you're doing solo parenting over the weekend and missin practice from injury, you take it when you can take it.
The Indiana scene is changing again. I think I already introduced the players: Carol is the root of the ashtanga here, then there's me and there's Amanda, who learned in part from me (she's one of THOSE YOGIS (hahahaha!) who has a dance background and a vinyasa practice, and she's taken to ashtanga in a very fish-to-water way). Carol and Amanda teach full time, multiple classes a week. I teach two classes a week (one ashtanga, one Rocket) because I'm an art historian for money, and at four classes a semester, two yoga classes a week is pushing it, and J frequently reminds me of that.
Carol's classes are bigger than mine, and Amanda's outdoing me in press, and particularly in Facebook press where I can see this happening. I am of two minds about these things. One, my class has always been this quiet thing, sort of sitting there on "community Sunday" for whoever shows up. Make no mistake, it has regulars, it's been a dozen all month long, but sometimes when I get nervous about it, I think that it lacks Carol's more mellow "at peace" approach (even though she teaches handstands with Navasana, it's not like a "chill" class) and Amanda's more "gonna git you sucka" approach (people ask me, does she drink a lot of caffeine?).
So one voice in me is saying "be more chill or be more hyper, get with it" and another voice in me directly resists that. I do the chants (and as far as I know, I'm alone in that) and I hand out cheat sheets and I encourage people to do the whole thing when they feel ready. Last time I was leading three people and about ten people were marching through Primary with cheat sheets.
It's important to me that traditional practice be developed (insofar as I understand that, through exposure to senior teachers, of which there's not much). This means when I sub the Mysore room on Monday nights, I almost want to say, "Stop there, go to backbends" but Carol doesn't do that when she teaches, so it's a negotiation that has to be approached somehow. The scene in the city however is led most-of-Primary, which is, again, how I learned it. Not traditionally, one-at-a-time.
Some people like the chants, some try to come in late to avoid them. It's amusing. I also without fail, both in my ashtanga and my Rocket classes, close with a lesson or story or some kind of introduction to something. I'm reading the Ramayana right now (thanks Timiji) and so sometimes I will talk about dharma and being a parent; sometimes I'll talk about the silly things my kid does, and how freedom and the social co-exist; sometimes I'll talk about koshas or energy; sometimes I'll tell a story about the history of the practice or how to practice more regularly.
A thing that itches at me is that I feel a physical proximity--what you might call an intimacy--with students, particularly long-term students whom I can adjust more authoritatively because I know their practices and tendencies better, but this intimacy flees when the class ends, and I wish it wouldn't. I remember stories of the old days when Owl was with Dominic, and those conversations post-class, and THAT's the model I want, that sort of communication. Maybe I cannot channel the shakti the way that model worked, maybe I'm pipe-dreaming in that respect.
Another thing is that I've lost a hunk of practice to parenting, just in terms of energy and time, and so my "pose-garnering" is SECOND TIME, not first time, and it simply does not have the DRIVE that first-time acquisition too-often comes with. The energy with which I practice, the intention, is not that with which so many of my students practice, and the levels are different, feel different. I wish we could cross this, talk about it, really communicate. More desire for that intimacy.
People in my room who have been practicing a long time (let's call my seven years a long time, even though it isn't) have often been doing simply the same set of vinyasa moves, and haven't had the structure and demand of an ashtanga practice, so I can (as they put it) "out-pose" people with more years yoga than I have. And when that happens, I simply say that there are two things: one, the ashtanga practice sets a high bar on physical skill, and two, it asks for regular practice. Those are the two things that most often set my practice apart from others with a non-ashtanga long-term practice.
And we're back at aging. But now, aging in practice. Seven years and that all-important "loss" of ego-drive and pose-gimme, really puts some distance between me and my students. Amanda completely lacks this kind of aging mechanism; she's something like 28 and she is all drive all the time. When she does Eka Pada Sirsasana in the Monday night class, she also folds it into both Buddhasana and Kapilasana, both sides. It's pretty WOW! but also totally criminal of course. And Carol is all affirmation of everything everyone does, she has the best energy ever. So drive and affirmation are something like the two "feminine poles" of ashtanga in town, and I'm like this strange masculine pole of reserve and classical practice. I drop a few "bad lady" and "bad man" riffs in class, but mostly I don't affirm people except newcomers (because I want to ease off the sheer challenge of the movements) and I don't drive people to do the next one, I'm much more likely to press people to breathe and slow down.
Time to run to class, but this is (well, if you're me) compelling to keep processing. One's role and identity as teacher, and as parent. Parenting gets in your everything, changes completely who you are, how you are.