Nerdery, Sisters, Noise

Sorry, more yoga nerdery, you guys. This is the place for it, and I am reveling in it. Besides, the only other thing I’d have to share is some pictures of my desk: I’ve been working on some projects with tight deadlines for work. As of Friday, though, I will be on two weeks of PTO. It can’t arrive soon enough! I promise that after this week, I’ll have more entertaining and picturesque updates.

Kapotasana went well this morning. I expected to feel nervous, since this is the pose I’ve struggled with most over the years, but I felt perfectly fine: I’ve done honest work to get where I am with it, and it is what it is. Plus, there was little pressure since Sharath was off doing something else. I did two on my own. They were pretty good, so I was going to wrap it up and go on to backbends when one of the assistants came over. I’m not sure who he is or where he teaches, but he helped me last week on final backbends and wouldn’t let me lift my heels as I tried to walk in to them. (Sharath isn’t fussy about that — however you get there seems to be fine.) Anyhow, the assistant came over and said, “You’re so close [to grabbing my heels]. Straighten your arms more often — don’t walk in so far before you straighten. If you did one more round of walking and straightening, you’d have it.” This is very welcome advice. Usually I walk my hands in toward my heels, then straighten my arms to get some lift, then walk in again. As soon as he said to do another round of walking and lifting, I realized that my habit is to do three rounds. So the advice is to not try to scrabble in so far before doing the straighten/lift, and to do an extra round of both. This is one of those suggestions that make perfect sense as soon as it is said, and I think it’s going to be really helpful.

And after that little interaction, I did a final kapo, he coached, and then he plunked my hands on my heels with just a little tug. I believe I can do it on my own, and I also feel like I have a new strategy for approaching it. I’d love to get an assist to my heels every day. I’m not complaining (well, maybe a little) but I only get that assist very rarely – on the occasional Sunday when Dion isn’t out bike riding.

If I can’t sort this out over the rest of my stay here, it’ll be my homework for the year. I feel newly resolved to work it out. It’s amazing how energy can be renewed in a short interaction around here.

Anyhow, after a long heel-holding kapotasana, backbends felt open, but I also felt a little wigged out, which made dropbacks and stand-ups feel less solid. I think that’s normal, though. Nervous system rebound. 🙂 The assistant helped me with final backbends and I walked into my heels without lifting them at all. Mysore magic!


After practice I went back to Urban Oasis and had some breakfast on the roof. Breakfast on the roof is really a pleasure, I must say. Susan came up when she got back from her practice and we had a bit of a chat. She offered a thought on kapotasana, which I am going to keep secret until I try it tomorrow. Then I’ll report back. Asana suspense!

I skipped chanting class because I had a proposal to write. Surprisingly, I really missed it. Chanting isn’t really my thing, but apparently it’s starting to grow on me.

Later in the afternoon a few of us hopped rickshaws and scooters and headed to lunch at Three Sisters. Three Sisters is actually run by three sisters – they serve delicious food in the front room of their very old-school house. Only two of the sisters were there today – one led us, through rooms that had broken walls and brightly painted doorways, into a small room where we sat on the floor and listened to noises coming out of the kitchen on the other side of a green door.

Every so often the door would open and one of the sisters would pass a plate of food out to us. Then she would go back in and shut the door and the noises would resume. There were six of us, and once we each had a plate, one of the sisters would come out occasionally to offer a dollop of rice from a big pot, or more vegetables from a bowl, or more chapatis (hot flat bread) from a plate. It was a tsunami of food.

After we ate, we were asked if we wanted juice. Everyone opted for a glass of carrot ginger juice. A few moments went by, then one of the sisters walked through the room toward the green door with a sack of carrots. Juicing noises proceeded, followed by glasses of carrot juice being handed, one by one, out the green door.

Once we had our fill, the two sisters came and sat with us and chatted. The gregarious sister was eager to talk about the old days, and how they studied with Guruji. She talks very loudly and has an infectious, girlish giggle. She explained that there were just two of them there today, because her “crazy yogi” sister was away at a sutra class. The other sister with us today was quieter, with a sly smile. I think she’s the main cook.

Make sure to click on the Flickr feed on the left of this page so you can take a look at the photos from Three Sisters. As gregarious sister pointed out, “In Gokulam, you can think you’re not in India. Here, you know you are in India.” Word.


It is noisy here. All the time. Right now: People standing outside my window talking; staff here at Urban Oasis talking, their voices resonating through the hallway; someone playing Indian music; car and scooter horns; a dog barking and barking (no one seems to mind that dogs bark, and no one ever tries to make them stop). Noise is just part of this big world.


9 thoughts on “Nerdery, Sisters, Noise

  1. Awesome!!!

    Sounds like your assistant might have been Geoff from Vancouver. Dedicated practitioner.

    The gregarious sis you mention might be named (I love this name) Shashikala.

    This is all just sweet.

    • Honestly, I just walk around with a big idiot grin a lot of the time. Going into the practice room: big grin. Assistant standing in front of me: big grin. Sharath standing in front of me: (especially) big grin. Happy, relaxed sister sitting on her stoop and laughing about how Americans and Europeans run around stressing themselves out about money: big grin. Wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a barking dog: yup, big grin. Comments from home: 🙂

  2. I think the gregarious sister (as captioned in your Flickr stream) is Harini, her massages are awesome and definitely one of the most unique experiences I’ve had. Love the pics, brought back memories!

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