After a short night of tossing and turning, I made it to Guruji’s first day of practice in San Francisco. There are many things to remark about today’s practice – the speed, the crowd, the room. But two things stood out – the community of people and the intimacy of history.
First, the people. Today there were ashtangi’s attending from all over – up and down the west coast, Hawaii, even Japan. After looking at Lori’s post of Guruji’s stay in London, I was again struck by the sense of community with a group of people with common aims, a common practice, and to varying degrees a common faith and belief. This morning there were around 200 of us and when we began to chant the opening prayer the swell of community was overwhelming, almost breathtaking.
Practice, as Philippe blogs at Ashtanga News, was brisk; chataranga’s were long, utpluthih was exhausting. “Up!”, Guruji must have said it a dozen times. He clearly enjoyed teasing us in certatin poses. The teasing was good-natured almost intimate, as if you had been practicing with Guruji in his home for years. This was the history that seemed to wash over us all. Not the long history of the yoga that stretchs back and back, teacher to teacher; but the modern history of ashtanga that begins with the first western students that visited Mysore in the seventies. In the teasing, you could hear the sternness as well as the kindness of this 90-year-old man’s teaching.
Hopefully the changes at work won’t interfere with practice and I will make rest of the sessions this week. But, at least I am reminded of the qualities that make this community and its guru so unique.