India: Kamal

In just my 3rd class with Kamal, my Ashtanga teacher from Myasore, India, he asked if he could "climb up" in Urdhva Dhanurasana. Ah, no. I watched instead, as he tested a student's strength, putting his hands on the rim of their ASIS (pelvis) and pushing straight down, asked them to press up! Press up!  Then, he climbed up as nimble as a monkey, stood and did Myurasana (peacock) and jumped off. Amazed, I tried to take a photo (no surprise here) and he barked, "no photo!" The following day he asked me, "I climb up?" I found myself saying yes. The weight of his light yet medium build frame pressing down on me and having the resistance required to push into the floor to hold him up was incredible. He stood straight up, his feet standing on my pelvis. I couldn't help but wonder if anyone had ever collapsed under him? After that, every class, he tested my strength and then stood, did Bhkasana and jumped off. 

Megan & me in Kamal's class
My wheels have never been stronger.  While I won't be doing this in my classes (students, breathe a sigh of relief), I think there is something to be said about his precise technique and the trust required between student and teacher. In my experience deep in the south (US), often teachers are either too fearful of hurting someone and don't offer an adjustment or when they do it's not confident and lacks value. Or you find a teacher with not enough training who is overly confident in adjusting without regard to the individual's unique body type or injuries. I am so grateful for the teachers who seek to fine tune the gift of adjusting from teacher to student. Adjustments, which require me to listen and be humble, refine me mentally and physically. Without  knowing what I could improve upon, my body adapts (samskara) to my repetitive movements whether aligned or mis-aligned. I would much prefer to know safely how and where I can outwardly change so that I might be able to inwardly shine all the more.


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