Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yoga Source Teacher Training

Drinking bad coffee and gnawing a stale donut, I drove up to Santa Fe for my second level teacher training. I missed the morning asana practice entirely and showed up ten minutes into the first lecture, no doubt reeking of wine and second hand smoke. Then I had to give hugs. About 7 of the 24 teachers I knew from Level 1 were here, in a group of 44. The first day was rough, but when the day was finished, I got some rolfing from Jen, her hands abusing my spine while I tried to ignore my grimaces by focusing on the red hills before me.

Most of week went along the same daily schedule. Arise at 6:15 for my own private pranayama practice. Tea and energy bar followed, eaten in the sun. Meditation at 7:00, then asana from 7:30-9:15. Breakfast and work period next. Morning lecture from 10:45. Lunch at 1:30. Afternoon lecture from 3-5. Lecture topics varied: anatomy, philosophy, nutrition, sanskrit, but in almost all of them, we found ourselves doing lots of poses. I'd say on average, we did asanas 3-4 hours a day. Free time, I sat and read, played my flute, or walked down to the creek. I also met lots of interesting people from all over, new friends and old. Before bed, I always wound up in the cedar wood sauna, loving the fact that progressive folks have no qualms about co-ed naked bathing, a far cry from the "iya da!" cries I could imagine.. During level 1, I'd treated the whole things as a retreat, rarely leaving the Upaya compound. This time I had a car, so headed into town nightly, usually to Whole Foods. Three times I had pizza next door to Yoga Source, and once, a group of us had an excellent meal at Maria's, world famous for their incredible variety of tequila. One friend wanted to buy me the most expensive margarita in the house. $200. OK, the second best then. $40. Happily, I settled for the best $15 marg I've ever had.

Other nights we sat out on the patio, watching the moon rise full. Its glow coated the ridge, then popped up as quickly as if it were the sun, with coyotes in full chorus. Friday night was our final party, held in the garden of Yoga Source. In our group, we had about a dozen excellent musicians, so organizing the "Spontaneous Orchestra" was easy. All three of my roommates played music, two of them professionally. Richard from Pittsburgh was an incredibly gifted drummer. Preston, a guitarist from Florida recently published a book on Bebop and the Beat Generation. Jen is currently in a band, so she brought the equipment. The session ended up being light jazz, with sutras converted into sung Sanskrit and English. Flutes ruled the day, Sean on Bansuri, me on Shakuhachi, Luna on Western style. I also played drums on a few songs. Towards the end, some drunk guy came over carrying beer from Second Street brewery across the street, our number one fan. It's incredible how well it came off, considering we'd never played together. Maybe it was week of living in close quarters, and much physical contact in the form of yoga and bodywork. (I have to tread carefully through this post. A week in Santa Fe often leads to overuse of words like "Energy' and "Cosmos.")

Upaya food as usual had me feeling bloated and full. Not the best conditions for twists.. The microbiotic diet was great, but by Thursday, my stomach was in torment. Could it be altitude related? It's amazing how your stomach takes most of your focus when it's doing poorly. And as happened last year, looking in the mirror a couple days after it all finished, water weight gone, I was shocked at how thin and strong I'd become.

The Yoga itself was of course top notch. Tias Little is one of the best in the country, with amazing knowledge of anatomy. I could tell how much I've grown since level one, and how I seem to have an instinct for teaching. I got fewer corrections than I thought I would, and poses that gave me trouble in October were no longer a bother. Also, I am now able to kick up into a non-supported handstand, and the final day I dropped into a standing back arch for the first time. Overall, we spent much of the week upside down in inversions, which really helped me to finally get my head out of the sky.

On the turntable: Willie Nelson, "Teatro"
On the nighttable: Sherman Alexie, "The Toughest Indian in the World"

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