saturday, october 6th
The word advanced can sound scary. I imagine it’s like when I heard “double black diamond” while skiing in Colorado a year ago. My mind threw up a giant red X, and I proceeded over to the comforting blue squares (think All Level) and single diamond (Int/Adv) slopes.
And for me, that was the right choice. I hadn’t skied for, perhaps, two years, and never that mountain. It was unknown territory, and I was not in skiing shape (no amount of long Warrior Two holds will prepare your quads for three straight days of all-day skiing after a two-year hiatus).
But, there was a time when I used to ski weekly. I regularly skied black diamonds, often without using poles. My brother and I would seek out all the little grottos and trails through the wooded areas that line the slopes. We hit the jackpot every time one of them contained a jump. Had I not gone to college in Louisiana, sadly lacking in ski slopes, it would have been the next logical step to embark on the double black diamond trail.
Sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara asevitah drdhabhumih. Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and in all earnestness.
– Yoga Sutras of Patanjali I.14
The beauty of the yoga sutras, and yoga in general, is that they so often apply to myriad facets of life. As in this sutra – which could equally describe a grounded skiing practice, clarinet practice, running practice, writing practice, or an asana practice.
Just as skiing the double black diamond would not mean I would never fall down or need to take a break, so too in the Advanced Flow Class. “Getting” students to “get” the peak pose is not the intention behind creating these classes for me. Instead, it’s to share the pathway towards a destination we don’t move towards in All Levels or Int/Adv classes, to share with students how I’ve worked on it in my home practice, in hopes they will continue to explore in theirs.
There is another level of flow and being with the body that is possible when students grounded in practice move together without the interruption of explaining prop usage, variations, or what triangle pose is. And, as I discovered in the last session, a huge amount of joy and lightness that comes from it as well.
I think I smiled or laughed as much as I spoke last time.
And just as a double black diamond skier looks at the mountain and can see, feel, and understand it in a way a novice is just beginning to, the Advanced Flow class allows us delve a bit deeper into the dharma. As the overwhelming interest and success of Mala’s first teacher training attests – Mala Yogis are ready to play without poles.