Classes with Prashant
How do you approach your practice? Do you try to remember the sequence from class? Do you focus on a pose and work on its ‘points’? Do you focus on categories of poses each day? Do you rely on a book or a tape? These are all good methods and can be helpful, especially when you are a newer student and trying to establish a practice, or when you feel somehow stuck. We all have those days. Prashant was making us laugh in class while talking about those methods and how on the surface they can be, how we can just be “doing to be doing or to be done” when we fall un wittingly into these patterns. It is easy to become like a performer doing a pose just for its sake, or as he said, “for the eyes of the teacher.” We all need to learn to go beyond this stage and get beyond a “practice” to become “learners”. We need to be involved and doing a pose to be learning.
He has a masterful way of leading the two hour class into a cellular, mental and breathing understanding of what he is talking about and it is difficult to put it into the written word. After all yoga (or yog, as he prefers to call it) is an experiential subject.
The classes this month are so big that there is almost no space between our mats, in fact more than once yesterday I shared one mat with Richard for standing poses. Yes, two people can do Trikonasana on one mat quite easily. Prashant is adept at handling the organization of how to get us all to flow through a handful of poses, get deeper into not just the pose but into the ideas that he wants us to learn. He will start by having those in the back get up and move to something like rope supported Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog) using the 11 ropes on the wall and then along the back with belts attached to a bar midway across the windows. Meanwhile the rest of the group will work on their mats. It usually takes the whole two hours for everyone to cycle through. Sometimes there are three things going on, like today: rope Sirsasana (headstand), chair Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (back arch through the chair) and mat work; tadasana back arches, Ustrasana (camel pose) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (back bends). Those and then 10 minutes of a choice of chair Sarvangasana (chair shoulder stand) or Janu Sirsasana (bent knee to the side forward extension) and then Pasrva Swastikasana (cross leg seated twist) and to end the class, were all we did.
Prashant’s instructions focus on working from specific body areas, the mind and the breath in order to direct us to experience the pose in various ways. The intent is for us to learn about the connections between those layers and the experience of the pose and ultimately of our being. The holds are long, but fascinating. He also often calls the group together to explain what he wants us to understand and focus on.
I have no pictures of class so I will include a couple of the practice session that follows immediately after. You can see how crowded the room is, although this was taken toward the end (9:00 – 12:00 pm) and people had begun to head home. To visualize a class, think absolutely no space between the mats front to back nor between.