So, my Sunday yoga room.
As I've said before: part of a major studio in town, 12:30-2 pm on Sundays, simply called "Ashtanga" and it's a community class for ten bucks instead of the studio's fifteen dollar drop-in.
In 2008 we quit the class for a while (I'd been teaching since June 2007) and reinvented it as an 8-week workshop on Primary series. Eight people signed up and we re-started the class that way. It got sporadic again and then suddenly got regular in 2010ish and then, as I've said here many times, erupted into a dozen regulars in February 2011. Hell of a long time for the ashtanga to really get going in town.
The regulars began memorizing, and that mode of teaching spread to a majority of the room, and now it's like this: 12 Mysore-stylers, 1 new person, 13 in the room total. Nearly everyone just inhaled up, ekam, dwe fold, and so on. Three people (at least, or was it four?) doing fractions of Intermediate on top of Primary, one doing Intermediate. Four people, at least, doing assisted backbends (sometimes two more slackers who opted out today, do them also). Only one doing more than drop-and-stand.
I talk more than some teachers do in a Mysore room, particularly when I have new people to lead and introduce. The dynamic isn't settled yet. When only the Mysorers show up (as 9 of them did a couple months ago, no one else), the room is dead quiet except for the occasional comment about a jump or a hand position. This goes on at least until seated. Most of my adjustments come with commentary (I'm chatty and extroverted and highly conceptual, so I like to explain) but sometimes I just make an adjustment (knee forward in some standing posture, arm extended, simple things like that, a hip bump forward, a Prasarita C arm press) and move on.
Do we call the class "Mysore" or do we keep operating sort of "secretly" almost, this weird enclave of afternoon Mysore-style practitioners? The membership is not, largely, leaping to morning practice. If this is the seed of a real program, it's not one YET. 2-6 in the morning 6 am room; nobody seems to have the powerful practices they have on Sundays. Community? Time of day? Just getting used to it? Probably all three. I think we don't "come out" yet; I think we stay in that studio, not becoming "a program," and I keep selling morning practice until people start to think it's a good (and a traditional) idea. It won't be anything but the tradition that sells it, even though practitioners THINK it's "practice more often, get better poses" that's selling it. Everyone who practices 5-6 times a week knows that the major developments of regular practice (maybe after the first few years) are not asana achievements.
It is both hard and easy to leave people alone. Easy because you see someone's flowing practice, this, that, next one, and you just leave it. Hard because it's tempting to adjust or fix or comment on a thing you see, check in to see if the practitioner knows that they do that thing that way. This is more tempting when I know someone *a little* and much less tempting when I know someone (well, that is, someone's PRACTICE) well.
I feel like I teach Mysore-style practitioners, which is not quite the same animal as teaching Mysore-style itself, or is it? I mean, whose room is it, is it the practitioners or "mine"? Who makes it Mysore-style, you know? This is in part a licensing question, a "do I qualify" question, at least for me to be a "suitable" teacher for a Mysore-style room, but then, if we reverse it, who is to teach the Mysore-style students? "Who will teach?" is what Larry said that Pattabhi Jois asked them on one US trip. Larry said, "I will teach!" and that is his teacher story.
I knew after my Mysore-style experience in SF that I wanted to do this, this way. Took four years for it to show up. But I wasn't interested in "becoming" a Mysore-style teacher, it wasn't about me, it was about students. Or more accurately, it was about students and method, and that quest to teach those people showed up in my practice. I started Mysore-styling in led classes, both because I could (and I'd done that prior to SF also), and because it was the only way to create it in the world.
The "Who Are You" question never gets me anywhere useful. I used to be an Intermediate practitioner, and when I was getting Kapo to my instep and some, solo, I knew a teacher could probably just pull me into it, and those are the days of 2010 that I was doing all of Intermediate, learning it "Indianapolis style," which is to do the whole thing and modify what you can't do until it shows up.
So I know I don't hold myself to a practice standard, but I do value reading sacred texts and knowing about breathing and emotional stuff in practice; I really value the "subtle body" stuff and the Sutras and the relationships between life and practice, all that middle ground. This is the stuff I teach from; life is the terra.
I don't claim any individual yet as "teacher" although my long stays with Swenson and (coming up) Sweeney and my repeated encounters with Ms. MacGregor indicate that I'm probably getting most of my teaching from one or a combination of them (firey personalities all, how typical of me, heh!).
For once I'm not anxious about if I count or if it's ok, to teach this stuff. I teach this stuff, who else will? My practice is still longer (years practicing, not minutes per practice) or more advanced than any of my students, and that duration is really where the ground of it is, that time with the method. The experimentation that I used to do with advanced postures has probably paid off too, but really the duration, just that long, long, deep soak in the method, that adherence to one way. Eight years this month, sometime in July I think. I forget exactly when my ashtanga birthday is, but it's summertime.
These days I'm often sore and have a lot of emotional whirlwinding and pain going on and that's fine. I do my Primary series and on good days when I have power and lightness, I add Pasasana and see how it is. When I have pain, I modify and chill out and sometimes shorten.
I am travelling a hell of a lot this year, all coming up: Durham NC in a week (starting out Thursday night actually) for six days of Sweeney immersion, then four days after I get back, off to Seattle with family for a week and a half, where I will check out Sarah Plumer's new thing "Ashtanga Northwest" (currently just a blog, and she'll be back only for the latter week of my stay) and then in October I'm doing these two conferences, one in Detroit which will see me drive an hour to Ashtanga Ann Arbor, and one in New York where plans are to join people at Ashtanga Yoga New York.
All of that, and Tim Feldmann is doing an exciting program at Yogaview in Chicago right in the middle of the month.
If I like Tim and I can maintain good savings in the bank account, I'll become a notch more interested in Miami Life Center's "Ashtanga Course" they do for two weeks over the summer. Miami, in July? Dude, the ashtangis like it HAWT.
Or wasn't Sweeney going to do certifications in Ashtanga Yoga, or were those just rumors (can't you just feel the fur flying now as I even ask that)? But his month-long programs are in Bali and India and Australia, not that we shouldn't take the boy abroad or anything.....