This weekend was rough. It was Blues and Brews and the weather was not the best… cool, drizzle, thunder, pouring rain, thunder, cold, colder, wet, wetter and so on. Not fun even for a dog. Getting out for walks wasn’t easy so I wasn’t sure what posting there would be today. I rested so much all weekend that last night sleep did not come easily. While my owner was snoring away I got up and snooped around on her computer to see what sorts of things she had filed away for her memoirs.
She has gone to the yoga festival every single year. OK, it’s only been around two years but she has gone every single year. She recommends it to everyone she knows since it is so much fun. The young woman who organised the whole deal, Aubrey, is pretty impressive. Anyway, Sue and Alice flew in from Texas to join her and our niece, Yael. Several days are spent saying OOOOMMMMM a lot, laughing a lot, drinking wine a lot, and acting pretty twisted. (no pun intended! hey, if you believe that you’ll believe anything.) So forgive me not posting my own thoughts today, but my musings on the paint colour in the front hall are not that interesting. There wasn’t a lot to do so I ate a hole in my sheepskin bed. This made my other option a post about my intestinal issues and that seemed distasteful. So for my sake please enjoy the following little goodie from my owner. I remember her telling me this story. Here goes……remember guys, this is no longer my voice. My writings are far superior to hers and it would not do for you to become confused, although how you could confuse our styles I do not know.
Gymns have been my passion for a long time. Weights and cardio are my friends. Also there is nothing like going for a mountain hike to get my endorphins rushing. One big bike ride a year in the mountains of Telluride gives me bragging rights in Houston, where no one has ever seen me on a bicycle except in spin class. I prefer running with weights around my ankles in Houston heat to sitting cross-legged…mainly because sitting cross-legged hurts! If you believe the website stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, however, I’m in the minority. Yoga is no. 15 on their list…apparently we like it because we feel bad about British Colonial rule and want to make it up to the Indian population. Well, I do yoga now so I should be on firm ground with all my Indian friends….right Rupa? Beena?
The last person anyone would imagine at a yoga festival is me. It’s a long story. A yoga apparel store which shall remain nameless...the name involves fruit and a girl named Lulu….agreed to hire me after I had spent ten years sitting around the house pretending to cook and clean. Suddenly there was a weekly monitoring of my class attendance; it is how Lulu advertises their clothing so going to classes all over Houston actually made sense. There are many types of yoga and I sat through lots of different classes but never felt inspired. I wasn't in trouble at work exactly but they weren't thrilled with my performance. However, Bikram came to my rescue. It's the hot yoga--104 degrees, 43 % humidity; the style that sweats every last cosmo and bad-eating day out of you in a heartbeat. You leave the studio convinced you are cleansed forever. Loved it. My body was feeling better than it had in ages. The kicker was that I was moving to Telluride for the summer and there was no Bikram studio. What to do?
A new man entered my life and I fell in love, not with him but with his yoga style. Gary was his name. He’s a big brute of a guy, two big earrings, flexible as all get out and the best teacher I have ever had! I breathed a sigh of relief because this was going to do the trick. Ashtanga was his game. It has a Darth Vader type breathing which I haven’t perfected but all that will come in good time. Heavy-duty personal stress had been part of my life for a while and Ashtanga cleared that up quickly. I would put Gary and his yoga right up there with Xanax, another friend of mine on occasion.
His class was so amazing that my son and I had him come over to give us a private lesson. Twisted into weirdly configured pretzels we actually looked through our windows at Ajax Peak from an upside down and backwards perspective. It looked better than ever. (note to self…..point this out to any future buyers!)
To make a long story short, my love of Gary...oh wait, Abe, I mean Ashtanga… encouraged me to tell my husband that I needed to sign up for the yoga festival. It would be a good way to expand my practice AND meet some locals. Abe’s such a great guy that he simply pulled out his cheque book, wrote the cheque, and off we trotted to the post office. My husband knows me so well that he knew we had to get that money in fast. He is acutely aware that I say one thing Monday, have second thoughts on Tuesday, and end up doing nothing by Wednesday. He took no chances. From the amount of the cheque, I knew I had no loophole through which to back out and god knows I had the clothes.
(These are not Ashtanga photos, you don’t have to do this)
July 11 dawned crisp and lovely. At 7 a.m. I marched bravely to the gondola with my mat, water bottle and good spirits. Another yogi was there. Good God, if she wasn’t from Houston, if she wasn’t familiar with our store, and if she wasn’t teaching one of my fellow employees Sanskrit. I took this to be a fortuitous omen.
The Conference Centre was easy to find. My pass was checked at the door. I was directed to Salon B. Hmmmm, everyone was wrenching themselves into all kinds of contortions. I slowly stretched my legs out in front of me and took a casual glance around the room, as if checking out the view. In reality I was trying to figure out what the heck everyone was doing. They were upside down, twisted, rolled over, and some were even praying in frog squats. Oh oh, I thought, and quickly did another little stretch and prayed that class would start soon. Suddenly it seemed that everyone was running to greet the newest attendees coming through the door. Kisses were being exchanged, excited squeals were heard when yet another human entered, more hugs; it was all a bit much. I turned to the woman next to me and whispered “gee, I feel like I’m at a family reunion but I don’t recognise the relatives.” Her response was not comforting. “Yes,” she replied. “They are the Ashtanga community from town”. What? my brain screamed, every single person in this room is a devotee…..couldn’t they have mentioned that in the brochure…this class for Telluride Ashtanga fanatics only! Instead the brochure had said all levels, only led class taught in traditional Mysore Ashtanga format…well, maybe I should have checked out what that meant. I faked a couple more stretches and remembered the Lulu credo, Do One Thing a Day that Scares You! It doesn’t say do one thing that freaks you out and makes you want to jump out the window and run away. However, by now I was blocked in.
The only way this could go was downhill. .
A very famous Ashtanga honcho entered the room, followed by two acolytes. He asked if anyone was unfamiliar with the Mysore tradition. My hand went up along with three others. At least I had heard of Ashtanga. My God I had had five classes with Gary who studied in India for Pete’s sake; I’m practically a pro. He asked us to move….not where you think!..but to the back corner of the room where we wouldn’t interrupt anyone else’s practice. Back I went dragging my mat and looking sheepish.
All of a sudden the entire room was saying OOOOOMMMMMMM, which is moving to experience. My thoughts drifted as my spirit was carried away by the voices. Next we were all parroting words that seemed to be in a language that I hadn’t picked up yet. It was a beautiful thing until I heard myself ending a phrase very loudly with the word POO when everyone around me seemed to be saying KOO. The hopeful thought that we were going to chant for an hour and forty five minutes crossed my mind as that would only leave fifteen for actual yoga.
Suddenly we were all doing sun salutations. OK. Got those down pat. Two forms were available to me, courtesy of my trusty teacher. Panic surged through me, however, and my breathing got all mixed up. Suddenly I was ahead of everyone in the room. I did my five salutations and then did five more in a slightly different fashion. My arms looked really hot stretched way up over my head. It is easy to pretend you are into your yoga when actually you are staring at your triceps and saying, “wow for my age those triceps are looking pretty damn good.” By now every move I knew had been used several times. The Darth Vader breathing started me thinking how phone sex must sound. I started to chuckle and prayed not to begin laughing hysterically. Now what was I supposed to do? Two hours stretched ahead of me interminably. I heard Gary’s voice in my ear, “so, Kathryn, do you remember the next position.” “Nope!” I had responded blithely. I had been so blasé, why on earth hadn’t I written everything down?
The male assistant, who reminded me of Ghandi, glasses and all, came over to help. He could see I was in need of advice. Well, I had to be frank, “hey look buddy, I’m in serious trouble here. I’m going to have to do sun salutations for two hours and it’s already getting a bit old.” He had no sense of humour. He told me that it was not supposed to be like that and I responded, “well, with me that’s all I’ve got. I only have five classes under my belt and I’m pretty much screwed right now.” He sighed and wandered away.
I looked around the room. Everyone was off in their own little world doing their thing. But, our group had grown. Our tiny batch of four “know nothings,” had grown to eight. We all did a few more sun salutations and then suddenly out of the mist our saviour appeared. I don’t know her name but was certainly glad to see her. She glowed with knowledge. I nearly shouted out Alleluia when she said she was going to lead us through the series. There were sighs of relief behind me. Right then and there it became obvious there is a god. I don’t know which religion we used to summon her, maybe Hindu since we had used some sort of Sanskrit-sounding prayer. I think my prayer had been, “dear God, come and save my ass, I’m in deep crap! (Remember I had substituted poo for koo). Suddenly we had this great teacher who instructed us, moved us into correct positions, and helped us get to the end of the series. (big bonus from attending festival….I can now drop famous honcho’s name and say, “oh yes, I’ve taken class with him.”)
But what to my ever wandering and inquisitive eye should appear…but TWENTY FIVE people were now in our group. I guess they didn’t know what Mysore was either. HA! at least I had moved my mat over at the beginning. Putting your hand up in class does help, who knew?
I recommend everyone join me next year. You get to wear great clothes. You run around town with your mat and look extremely knowledgeable even if you don’t know a downward from an upward dog. You do not even have to answer questions about yoga, just nod quietly and let them know they are invading your meditative space.
I should let you in on another part of my adventure. It involved nature, weeds, and trying to be at one with the flies. I failed that class ….but you know what, the instructor was cool and it was definitely interesting and got me out of my box. Gotta run, I’m off to sign up for next year. Namaste.
Casey here…So you see, you can also come to town and find something new and interesting to enjoy. Not only dogs like Telluride , people do too.
So you can tell me now, did you have a good chuckle? I sure hope so because everyone else did that heard that story. However nobody laughed as hard as this guy. He practically laughed his face off.