Reluctantly crouched at the starting line
Engines pumping and thumping in time
The green light flashes, the flags go up
Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup
They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank
Fuel burning fast on an empty tank
Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns
Their prowess is potent and secretly stern
He’s going the distance
He’s going for speed
She’s all alone
In her time of need
As my holiday season comes to a close, I am coming off an Ashtanga high. Much like Cake’s “The Distance”, my engine was pumping in time as I rang in the New Year by spending four glorious days in a Mysore intensive with my teacher- David Garrigues. An intensive with David is just that… intense. My practice is sorely lacking already, so I knew going in it was going to be a bumpy ride, but that was alright. David has this way of pulling things out of you. He asks more of you; constantly. Even the littlest request could leave you going “Why am I sore here?” the next day (he’s the king of nuances). There were days where I had to really push through parts (mainly the beginning) because I was tight, sore, tired, etc.
Day one didn’t start off too well. I woke up to discover that I had started my period; AWESOME. A few other things went wrong that morning too and by the time I made it to the shala, I was ready for a do-over. LOL. Luckily, things began to look up once I went into the Mysore room. I found my spot by the wall and the heaters (yay warmth) and soon enough, my four days of bliss had begun! 😀
I have taken several classes/intensives with David and it is now at at point where he is getting to “know” my practice. He knows that my shoulders are hella tight and he pokes fun at me and my horrendous shoulderstands. In return, I get to make small jokes back. One day, I was up in shoulderstand with my arms behind me in a belt (because otherwise they will run amok) and he comes over and squats down beside me “Ashley, this just won’t do! Get your hands down on your back behind your ribs. You are on your sides.” He fixes my hands, and the belt, and gives me some more pointers as he watches. At this point, I’ve already been there somewhere around 7-10 minutes; I’m sore, tired and my arms are rebelling because they dispise this pose and he goes “You’re losing it…”. I look at him and go “David… I’m tryyyyying….” in this pathetic voice and he starts laughing, and I start laughing and then half the room starts laughing. There is just something sincere and honest about him that makes every encounter special and unique.
There were a lot of small things he asked me to work on, but a couple things he really asked me to work on were:
- Full inhale/exhalations on my vinyasas
I hav a tendency to rush the vinyasa and not fully inhale after my chaturanga
- Working on my backbends
I have really been working on opening up my chest and to do that, I have been sending my weight towards my chest. Well, that is good as an exercise, but not for the asana itself. He had me work on internally rotating my thighs towards the midline (because “Ashley is doing something funny with her legs”) and sending the weight back towards my legs and walking my hands in. I was having a hard time getting my feet “heavy”. I just-couldn’t-do-it. At one point I asked “How do I do that?” and he said, “How do YOU do that? Figure it out! You have 40 years!” Oh David…. The next day he said I looked much better, but that I now needed to work on lifting the chest.
If you ever attend a class/intensive with David, don’t be surprised if you hear any of the following:
- “Go Back!”
- “65% better”
- “What is he/she doing?”
- “25% better”
- “No, you’re not doing it. Try again.”
- ….. etc
From my experience, each of the above is said with love, conviction and with the best of intensions. His expectation is that you try; and that you try 100% — even more! He is very serious about each asana, and that it be done correctly, though he will modify for you if necessary. Although David is not at the shala all the time due to his teaching schedule, I am blessed to have him as one of my teachers. If you train with him regularly, he will get to know you, your flaws and recognize when you improve and/or open up. Expect pranayama work, because that is something David is passionate about. Personally, I really enjoy it so I enjoy the one hour sessions and it helps me wind down after the two hour practice.
I’m usually lost during the chanting, but I stumble my way through it to the best of my
ability. HAH! David did make chai this time and it was pretty good. He closed out the session with a lecture. Usually with the intensives there are two conferences. I am usually only able to make one because the other is at a time I am not able to attend. This talk was all about Dharma.
It was actually quite fascinating. The talk is on periscope if you want to go listen to it! It’s about an hour long and he even weaves in some folklore too!
All in all, it was a great way to ring in the New Year! I met some great people and I also got to reconnectwith some old shala pals I haven’t seen in a while. It gave me inspiration to try to reconnect with my practice as often as possible and I’m already looking forward to seeing David again in the spring (if my schedule allows).