I’m a budinski…I know, not everyone wants or likes unsolicited advice. I really really work on not doing it, I swear I do, but occasionally stuff just blurts out. I was practicing in the usual dristhi mind my own space way a couple of days ago and was just about to start my seated closing when the lovely practitioner next to me was being taught and adjusted in to full garba pindasana. Her lotus was deep and fine, and her body type is that enviable natural hip opener kind…so when they were struggling with getting her left arm through, I couldn’t help myself…( um impulse control police? ) I whispered over, telling them to try and push the left knee and leg closer to her body to create a bigger gap to get through. The teacher smiled at me and said everyone has different body types, so that advice may not work. I smiled and nodded, and then went back to meditative breathing with my mind now racing with my lack of control and hoping I hadn’t offended either one of them with my ridiculous uncontrollable desire to help out. Awareness is the first step right?
I’m not losing sleep over this particular transgression, but yet it got my thinking, reminiscing my own feeble first attempts to get my arms through that impossibly small space between thigh and calf in full lotus to then reach up to your face and cover your ears. I admit the action of getting there can be extremely uncomfortable, and if your elbows don’t get deep enough, painful. Oh the joys of being almost there, but instead of enjoying the yummy back stretch, feeling the pain of a bony elbow hitting into the top of your foot or ankle bones! Yes, it hasn’t come easy, but shorts and sweat help. Water is a nice gliding friction to ease the transition, wether sprayed on or ideally naturally produced in sweat equity.
So comfy looking right? 😉
I had the distinct pleasure to be adjusted fully into it the first time by the gracious, yet formidable Saraswati Jois.
In April 2012, when Jois Yoga was opening in Connecticut, Sharath and Saraswati had come to do a week of led primary. I was beyond excited for the opportunity to meet them and practice under their guidance. I had been practicing slightly under two years, and though I was doing a full primary, my garba was most assuredly a work in progress. I could get my hands though that impossible space between, but not beyond the start of my forearms yet. It was frustrating, and at led pace, I felt it was inaccessible, so I usually just wrapped my arms around my knees and pulled them in, instead of even attempting to waste time going for it. ( I love the rationalizations we all make for ourselves, truly) Looking back, I was giving myself a pass to avoid the discomfort, I am not criticizing my choices, but in hindsight, it was just not where I had wanted to put the right focus yet, or believe.
I had signed up to practice for two glorious days at Jois. As I was driving there the first day, making my 40 minute commute, I was wondering if I’d be stopped at any point, or adjusted. I actually had a flash of dread that someone would try to help me with garba. I shook my head to get the negative thoughts away and laughed at myself for getting ahead of the game. Practice is practice, everyday is different, you can’t project or assume how anything will go, just keep trying, right?
So, there I was, in the back of the room, excited, nervous, but practicing. All was moving along, packed bodies, lots of energy and sweat, and along came garba pindasana. I thought nothing of it. It was led pace by Sharath, I didn’t even try to push my hands through my legs at first, I just automatically curled my hands around my knees. In a split second, Saraswati was kneeling in front of me. I was in awe and nervous. She asked me why I hadn’t put my arms through, was I injured? I said, no, I’m fine, I just haven’t really done that yet. She smiled at me at grabbed hold of my right hand and placed it in that impassible space and then used her foot as leverage and yanked it completely though! I was stunned, as she quickly did the same thing to my left hand. Saraswati looked at me and the shocked expression on my face, and said, with a smile, “Now you do.” She then preceded to roll me around nine times. My arms felt a bit like they had a slight rug burn, but it was incredible to experience the asana under her compassionate but tough guidance. I felt like I could lift myself to a higher plane with the adrenaline now running through me in kukutasana.
I didn’t want that adjustment, not that day, or any other, but I was so fortunate to get it. Not because it was Saraswati, not because it was extremely uncomfortable to get there ( have I mentioned before that I hate pain? ) but because it showed me I needed to stop shirking away from what asana I had trouble with, I had to realize this piece of the sequence wasn’t going away, and I also needed to see the potential inside me to get there. I had to take a leap of faith that the seemly impossible is possible with patience, instruction, time, and ideally some sweat to help ease the slide through.
As I sat and overstepped my boundaries a few days ago, it was really Saraswati in my head, pushing my own left leg forward to ease my arm through that arose inside me, in that same way I shudder when watching my children procrastinate on their school work. (Why did they inherit my terrible flaw of writing papers at the last minute?) Samskaras will get you every time! I don’t know how much longer I would have continued to avoid working at garba pindasana if it weren’t for that assist, but it made me continue to work at it, knowing the potential was there. Sweat is still my friend in that pose, and now, in winter here, a water sprayer does the trick if I haven’t built enough heat yet.