Gala (vasana) Anniversary

how it felt the first few times

Today is my one year anniversary of being “given”/shown/ held up in Galavasana.

Last year on  July 25th my teacher David Garrigues, brave man that he, is assisted me in the gateway pose of third series.  Gateway in that…here come the arm balances.

This image was captured by my husband july 25th 2012
This was Garrigues and Faulkner’s first go at Galavasana!

I grew up a gymnast. This means I grew up  doing arm balances and press up every things. Flying through the air and spotting the correct place (and time) to land was standard operating procedure. These skills, these upside downs, these twistings, being airborn, condensed, stretched, these ways to spend time, they are my dear old friends. They are my peeps. None of this means this stuff is easy for me. I was always a big girl type of gymnast. My team had to transport and set up a special set of uneven parallel bars so that I would not break the home team’s set of bars with my muscle mass’ ability to swing.

 So now that I have been working with dedication on some advanced poses, it stirs up a bunch of feelings for me (irritating, amusing and soothing to name just a few),  to see the recent onslaught of  pictures of people doing amazingly difficult poses, and not just that, they are out there in front of the city fountains, on park benches, or with the lakes, rivers and oceans of the world. Shit, I need a damn 2 hour warm up to do that on a nice, even (in some spots) wooden floor in my own house with a mat that has been properly juju-ed, and a bunch of other exquisitely added details.

So, yes, it initially makes me angry. I remember when I first started doing ashtanga, and it was fashionable to poo-poo the gymnastics of it. “Yoga is not gymnastics…., yoga is not a sport, yoga is not a competition.” I know, I get it.  But I grew up in a gym, doing the incredibly intense sport actual of gymnastics. I grew up being judged. I never minded being truly judged, you know, with a scoring system. But being judged by other members of the community at the time WITHOUT the scoring system really sucked.  I was often called a show-off for doing tick tacks and handstands in the yoga room. I was judged for doing them in a gymnastics way, but it was my heritage that made me able to do them in the first place.

The anger subsides and is replaced with some amusement and understanding. I know it’s a developmental stage the yogi is in, feeling the energy of the pose light you up and wanting to somehow capture that energy for eternity and share it with the world in some way. I did it, and I judge it’s a natural urge, and urge to want to celebrate the pure goodness of the shape, and the feeling of you, or the self, or the union of energy that is the body in a wonderful relationship with the planet’s gravity. It is sweet, endearing and it makes me smile. It reminds me of the taste of watermelon on a hot day. It reminds me of gymanstics camp when I was twelve and the late night handstand competitions we would have. It was SO MUCH FUN. My face smiles when I see images of talented yogis doing advanced poses, and I appreciate the energy, poise and dedication the poses show me. I am happy for them, but for me, I have to really warm up to even try to do those things and sometimes I doubt that my version has what David calls the “Tom Sawyer effect” of seeing someone channel the energy so well, you want to be doing it. Back to the images, though,  I need the inspiration they supply, the enthusiasm and gusto they have for the practice. Maybe I’m feeling my age and still trying to grasp some of that youth I see around me, but maybe, it’s that I can still feel some of that youthful energy in my own body. So yeah, I might have some sour grapes lurking, but I think that my real nectar is just starting to come of age now that I’m 51. So, galavasana it is, picture-worthy or not!

 Garrigues Galavasana adjustments
remind me of the two person  horse costume

The energy of the many new people dedicating themselves to the practice reminds me of my recent bus trips in India. The bus is full, but then 15 more people somehow fit in! It soothes me to know and feel that there is room for us all in this time space continuum of strength, balance and agility.  The yogis that want to know yoga from yoga, we all meet in the crowded expansive place inside ourselves. We share this, we are all on the same team, even if it irritates you that I think of yoga as a team (wait for it….) SPORT. I was never competative in the usual sense. I was more in it for the sport itself. The TEAM. No one is ever cut from my team.  To me TEAM is a big loving, we can do it, work hard kind of thing. The fellowship, the creative process of the individual experiencing the best and truest aspects of self while working in and with the scaffold of the group dynamic. oh yes. My sister in law once said, “well, we all have to find our tribe,” and I think I have found mine.

I was and still am eager to take direction, eager for  corrective feedback, even eager for rules and regulations. You gotta know the rules to bend them well.  It is very exciting to have  a forum to  continue  to  cultivate my long standing relationship with gravity into adulthood. It is a big soothing, happy place in my body/mind/spirit entity that I have ashtanga and ashtangis.  If you show up for your practice. well then like it or not you are in my band, on my team, all of it.

So my parting words for everyone, on this great day of celebration of my gala-vasana anniversary are: Damn, it took a long time, as it always seems to do, but I am so glad the cat is out of the bag and people are seeing and feeling for themselves that this shit is fun! Gala type fun. Special occasion type of everyday fun. Like another David says, “hey, it’s cheap thrills!”, and of course more than that, too.

I’ll keep doing these poses for as long as possible in the yoga room actual, mostly all by myself, but always with the power of the practice and the people everywhere practicing, holding me up.

2012 the year of the Dragon
for me it was the year of Galavasana

Olga! Here I come!
Moscow with Garrigues
December 2013
Garrigues and me going to Moscow

or click her for english