I really enjoy teaching a large yoga class, especially advanced classes that are thick with the sound of Ujjayi breath. You can feel the tapas radiating off their bodies and their drishtis bore into the walls like lasers. I honestly get this feeling in those classes. I walk around matching their breath as I adjust postures. I had a similar feeling when I was a Drill Sergeant in the Army. But instead of a sense of fear, yogis feel a sense of accountability. They are focusing hard on their entire experience. And I’m there to see what they cannot see. I am their mirror.
Patthabi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga yoga, had a very bold way of making adjustments. I just watched a video last night of him adjusting in Second Series Ashtanga. It was apparent how forceful he was. What is so interesting is that our teacher trainings in the U.S. are focused on our knowledge of human anatomy. We break down muscles, bone impingements, and a host of other body functions. In India, they didn’t have this awareness since their knowledge is based more on energy lines. The shushumna, id, pingala, seven chakras, and other nadis. Patthabi Jois would adjust on these energy lines. Bodies are different and he could clearly see when energy was broken. He had a very intuitive and experienced awareness of his students. I have teachers who often see this brokenness in me.
Since the holidays are upon us, I know that class attendance will be less than usual. I know that the energy I feel in larger classes won’t be there. This morning was one of those days. I had two people in class. So we gathered and talked about what we’d like to accomplish. You can negotiate with a smaller class and give them exactly what they want. We did a harder class and I had my hands on them the entire time. We were able to work on binds and body placement individually. It turned out to be an amazing class. They said the time flew by as if it were only a few minutes. And they likely grew more in one class than weeks or months before. It is the value of a Mysore-style Ashtanga class; when the teacher can adjust and modify to help you grow individually. Some days, your glass is half full; or even brimming over the edges.