by Joanna D.

I’ve been here for five weeks now. Remembering the first walk into the Shala. So nervous. Afraid I might step on someone or put my things in the wrong place or… be stopped at Sutpa Kurmasana. The latter was my reality.

Everyday I get help with the posture. If not from Sharath, from one of his assistants. At one point he told me, “It is my challenge now.” with a little gleam in his eye. If he doesn’t come right away I do it two or three times. Now, how is this supposed to work? I would try sneaking in Eka Pada Sirsana to prep for it and get caught. Shaking head. So I would do more things at home; postures to help open my hips, a restricted diet, restricted walking. Through this process, a whole slew of questions have been flying around my head. Starting with, What the hell? Why is that person moving on and I’m not? Seriously? Is that even up-dog? What am I doing here? ARGH!

Shelley Enlow in Supta Kurmasana, at the Spokane Yoga Shala – photo by Eric Galey – Mine looked nothing like this…

At some point during all of this I gave in. Deciding I would gain more if I submitted and worked within the space I was confined to. And there was SO MUCH there to work with! It was not confinement at all; rather a beautiful opportunity to dig deep into the fullness of my practice. Looking in every breath for the joy. The focus. Presence. And finding it! I got some strength back. Explored my legs in every posture. My arms, my breath, Chaturanga. I made it a point not to notice the other practitioners around me because it clouds my focus. Distracts me. As soon as I stopped pushing and released from the need to move further, it started to come. So it goes.

Today, Sharath put me into Supta Kurmasana. So strong and solid. He grabbed one arm, and then the other, pushed them together and I caught it. Then the left foot, and the right foot, five quick breaths and whole thing popped open like a hot kernel of corn. I was like, whoa, it happened! So stoked! That was the first time I had ever bound my hands and feet in the six or so years I’ve been practicing Ashtanga yoga. Sharath smiled, “Ah, it is coming. You take next posture.” He knew I had been chomping at the bit. So I took that as the green light. Riding the high. I did Garbha Pindasana, Kukkutasana, Baddhakonasana… and then I got yelled at… “I gave you only one!” He looked at me like, what are you doing? I just started laughing. I was so excited and so ready to move forward; it was like the dam had burst open and I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing. “Finish Baddhakonasana.” He said, looking at me sideways. And watching very closely. Then, “OK, one more.” So I did Upavistha Konasana A and B. And I looked at him. “OK, one more.” So I did Supta Konasana. I looked at him again, full of hope, and he told me to stop. That was it. “Slowly.” he said.

After doing the finishing postures, reciting the closing prayer and taking rest I got dressed and headed out, stopping for a moment to give thanks for the days teaching. He came out to talk to me and said, “Next week you go slowly. You must be patient.” I nodded, feeling a bit embarrassed and humbled for not paying attention to what I was doing, and said, “Yes, patient.” I thanked him and walked through the narrow door to retrieve my shoes. Then this thought screamed out… Patient?! I’ve been pretty damn patient! I mean seriously! Five weeks? …with each step, tired legs carrying me home, it started to sink in. Perhaps, I really haven’t been very patient. But, I’m still stoked.