Shaking things up

Guess who came into our Mysore room yesterday?

This guy!

John Scott is here this week in Taipei, holding a 5-day immersion and a 2-day weekend workshop. My teacher invited him to pop into our Mysore class (my teacher has followed John for a long period now). And boy, was he a dynamic energy in the room!

I was in the front row corner, very concentrated in my practice (I swear I was!) when I heard man’s voice a few rows behind me. It wasn’t till a few minutes later that I realized it wasn’t my teacher’s voice. Actually, the accent gave it away. I sneaked a peak during my down dog (admit it, we all do that now and then), and lo’ and behold, there’s John Scott standing three rows behind, instructing students through the postures. And not just any ol’ way of instructing, but yelling (well, relative to the quiet whispers in the Mysore room) with a shake of humor and a tablespoonful of detailed guidance. Many students took one breath too many for their vinyasas to linger and smile at John’s method of teaching.

He worked his way around the room slowly, never rushing from student to student, giving each the utmost attention.

Third row. Second row.

I felt a tap on my shoulder just as I was going into Bhekasana.

“Hi, I’m John,” he put out his hand.

What a modest and humble guy! I’m sure everyone on that 16th floor at 7:40am knew who he was–probably had their hearts fluttering and their pranic forces rising like a roller coaster.

For those who knows John Scott or had read his book, you’d know that he is a believer of full vinyasas. And, apparently, he believes in knowing all the vinyasas of all the asanas.

John: So what are you working on right now?

Me: Um…(blank stare)…bhekasana.

John: Good, good. Right so, bhekasana, now how many vinyasas does it have?

Me: (Blink, blank stare, blink)…uhhh….

John: (smiling) Nine! It has nine!

Well, at least I knew the asana name.

He worked me up a sweaty mess through bhekasana, dhanurasana, laghu vajrasana, kapotasana, and bakasana (with full vinyasas of course, and testing me to see if I knew the vinyasa counts–I didn’t). All throughout, he was quick with the flow, never wasting a breath. A breath is a breath is a breath. No more, no less for each vinyasa. He dropped me into kapotasana so fast that it caught me by surprise, guiding my arms to directly grab my heels. In that instant I thought about my poor, inflammed back muscles. And then again by surprise, he lifted me up into a half handstand for dasa.

And then in up-dog I felt…nothing. Nothing in my back! The tension, the knots, the little pangs of soreness that made me wince ever so slightly that morning were significantly reduced. For the first time, I understood what many senior students of Pattabhi Jois say about him putting you in a stretch so deep that you didn’t even have time to think about it. Before you know it, you’re in the pose deeper than you could ever imagine, and it isn’t so bad after all. For the first time, I experienced the saying “Body not stiff, mind is stiff.” The more you think about a posture, the more fear you might built within you. What John did was he didn’t allow me to think at all. He put my body into the posture when it was most relaxed, when the brain didn’t yet have time to text my muscles, “Here comes kapotasana, watch out! It’s difficult!”

Just as subtle as he entered the Mysore room, John left an hour later to prepare for his workshop. Suddenly, the room was quiet, the energy flickered out. His visit brought a dynamic change of energy on what would be another monotonous Thursday morning. And my back would probably still hurt.

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