The BHH and I have a term we use for things we have a mental block against. We call them a “Tin Cup.” It’s because long ago we had the movie Tin Cup sitting around our house for months on end and couldn’t bring ourselves to watch it. We just thought it was going to be painful and irritating somehow. And when we finally watched it, we liked it a lot. Anyway, any time either one of us doesn’t want to do something, watch something, etc, we say “Is that going to be a Tin Cup?”
So, I haven’t practiced with Sharath Jois in kind of a while. He’s the grandson of Pattabhi Jois, I guess you’d say the founder of ashtanga yoga, and he is the current torch bearer for our tradition. Not only has it been since, oh, 2011, but I don’t have a close relationship with him to begin with. I’ve only had the one trip to Mysore, India, plus a few NYC led classes. And I’ve never really done my full practice with him. Being a nervous, shaky-poodle type, this has led to something of a “tin cup” situation.
The past couple of years when Sharath has been teaching near-ish, it’s been Connecticut. Too far for me to get to easily and work as well. Also, I’ve been out of town when he’s visited, so no decision to be made.
But this year, I found that I would be in town during the “Sharath week.” And not only that, but he is teaching in NYC, close to my teaching and work and home. The choice was pretty obvious. I was going to have to get over my “Tin Cup.”
Today was day one. An ‘easy’ day. Primary series only. Not that it’s ever easy in a led class with a mischievous Indian man slowing down the counts at just the hardest moments. But at least it’s a comfortable series. Sweaty good fun. No real “speed bumps” to worry about. And there were long-lost friendly faces from near and far.
We stood for Samastitthi the same way we do in every led class anywhere in the world, and in that traditional comforting way I began to breathe a little easier. Everything felt so familiar. That’s the power of ritual and tradition in action.
Mind, you know it’s a hard class when you get sweaty before the last sun salute, lathered by middle of the series and tired and almost cool before back bending. The whole arc in less than an hour and a half. But the old magic was there. The same way it can always be, in any ashtanga room anywhere, as long as I focus my mind.
I left the room beaming and ravenous and cleansed in body with a slightly quieter monkey mind. Joined friends for a brunch dosa as big as my carryall and headed to work with a spring in my step. Not a bad way to start a Wednesday morning.
Now, to get over the second series hurdle..I may need to quit coffee and invest in some kind of calming herbs for that. But I’m on the track for the week now. There’s no turning back. No way to let it keep being my “Tin Cup.” What a relief.