The Yogic Scriptures and Sankrit teacher at KPJAYI, Lakshmish, tells us that a Yogi has mastered Padmasana when he can hold it for 3 1/2 hours! Only then can the Yogi do Pranayama. He also says that for most of us, that aint gonna happen so, for the modern Yogi, 30-45 minutes is reasonable.
At KPJAYI, you have plenty of opportunities to master this skill. Classes and conferences can be so packed that it becomes almost impossible to stretch your legs out. There is also the traditional Indian rule ( I don’t know if it is all of India) of not showing the bottoms of your feet to people you respect. Everyone does not follow this. I follow it because I learned the hard way, that even if like 100 other people in the same room are doing something, I am the only one that will get corrected. Okay, that is an exaggeration…maybe…not really. I love it. I learn alot. I digress. Like I was saying, you might be sitting cross legged or in Virasana for an average of 3 hours a day. I am obviously not ready for Pranayama. I change position like every 5 minutes.
Sharath has confirmed what I have known my entire life. I am medium. Let me explain. When you go into the Shala, there are certain areas, due to the shape of the room, that fit certain heights the best. When Sharath calls you into the Shala for Mysore, he says the following,
One more- Any height
One more small-Short person
One more tall-Tall person
On this particular day, Sharath called, “one more” and it was my turn to walk in. He looked at me and whispered, “small”. I walked back out and grabbed a small person. A few minutes later, he said, “one more”. I walked in and he whispered, “tall”. I walked back out and got a tall person. He said again, “one more”. I walked in yet again and he whispered, “big”. I have never heard him say big! By then I was laughing and Sharath was quite amused. I went and got a big strong dude and went back to the lobby to wait. A few minutes later, he said “one more”. I walked in and he gave me a space.
The next Mysore practice, he walked into the lobby and said, “one more tall”. He looked at me and said, “you tall”? I am totally convinced by this point that he is messing with me. I said, “Last time I was here, you told me I was not big, tall or small.” He said, “stand up”. He was smiling by then. I think he judges shortness against his own short height. I was just a wee bit taller then him. He shook his head from side to side in the Indian way, made a little sound like “ehh” and then waved me to sit down.
I am quite medium. I have had to learn two new Vinyasa.
Downdog, jump through, scoot back, catch…..that’s an inhale.
Scoot forward, pick up…that’s an inhale.
See, if I don’t do those scoots, my feet wind up in the aisle….which…again…Sharath noticed…”why your feet not on your mat? I have to walk here!” Tripping your teacher is not a good look. Today I practiced beside a girl, who was short, and she did not have to do the scoot Vinyasa, I was jealous..LOL!!! Not really. Kind of. Not really. Maybe. It took me a long time to develop the strength to jump through, hover, straighten my legs and sit down. Now it looks more like, jump through, stay hunched, toes touch the floor, scoot back like a dog stretching his butt and then catch. Who knows, it may become my signature move. David Robson can float. I can scoot and scratch. Who wants to learn?
Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.