Travel is taking space out of life
This was my third visit to India. It was a serendipity orchestrated by the universe. My ticket was booked one month in advance. Place to stay was randomly found. Finding the teacher's Shala felt like it was though a mysterious guide. It was difficult to find the doorplates on houses here. Addresses were like a secret identity card in this country. I could only use Google map to locate a nearby homestay. And whether or not the homestay had a kitchen or a refrigerator were all like a present waiting to be discovered when I open it. Fortunately, the few photos I found supported my intuition. Compare to my last visit where I had no idea at all where to stay, this time I was more skillful.
Perhaps I understood the way of life in India all too well. When there was a power out, I just shook my head. When the flight was delayed, I just shook my head. There weren't too many things that caused me to suffer emotionally. A gust of wind stirred up the red soil on the ground causing my face to be covered by dirt, I swept it off and it was behind me. First day I was there I used my footsteps to calculate the time to get to class, the location of markets and stores, where to go splurge on chai, the direction of seaside and most importantly which money exchange offered the best deal. After I was done with figuring out all these different places, I suddenly realized lights were waning down and it was not a good idea to dwell in place, so I shook my head, went back to where I was staying and immediate rented a scooter.
Travel is pressing the space bar on the keyboard, pausing in life and wholeheartedly getting back to zero. Bodhi trees can be seen everywhere; both kids and adults all seem adorable. Perhaps it was this space that allowed my heart to soften like milk bubbles, and as I sat by the tree, my heart secretly acted out the play of enlightenment, where I raised up into the heavens and saw the self within.
I'm curious, what do you see as a teacher looking at students from your mat?
I love looking at students from this perspective. Ashtanga practice is a symphony of the body and mind. I can see the four seasons played out in students from the mat. The mind reorganizes in practice, from the spring's arrival to the peak of the summer, then turn to the cooling of the fall and the chill of the winter and back again. The cycle of rebirth produces a painting of ceaseless skandha (“aggregate” in Buddhism). Do you ever see the four seasons that you don't like? Occasionally I see student who practices as if it is an acrobatic feat, then I would invite him to readjust and practice with a beginner's mind.
Ashtanga yoga seems extremely difficult to a beginner. Do you have any advices to new students?
Learn and familiarize yourself with sun salutation A and B. The best way is consistently take basics and hatha classes for at least three months. Once you can synchronize your movement with the rhythm of the breath, then try Ashtanga Intro classes. I would recommend after going through a complete basic conditioning, at least knowing how to use the various muscle groups then it would be more enjoyable when you start Ashtanga classes. It is, after all, a test of your stamina and strength. But don't worry too much; the new students will be well taken care of by the old students.
Even though life is impermanent, but there are a lot of turnover in students the last few years. Do you have any suggestions to students who have been around for a while?
When Ashtangis get to a certain point, they naturally develop their own habit of self-practice. The most wonderful thing on the Ashtanga path is realizing one's own inner self by being on the track of the practice. Whether or not if we can continue to meet in the practice room is not that important. To me it is enough to just continue to practice. I would say that we are still a half-filled glass; there are more that can be filled.
All the beginnings are zero, just like all the endings are back to zero. I like to use a turning wheel to represent the words of start and end. No matter your are a beginner or you are already on the path, the practice of yoga is never about advancing on the mat, it is more about the acceptance and respect off the mat