You may have noticed that you didn’t receive a post in your inbox last week. That was because I was in Charlottesville practicing with Saraswathi! When I saw she was going to be 4 1/2 hours away, I signed up immediately. I totally hate that I missed all my opportunities to practice with Guruji and I was not going to make that mistake again.
When I told my 70 something year old mother in law that I was going to to see a 76 year old woman who was on a world tour teaching yoga, she was a bit surprised. Many people that age have trouble getting around even much flying all over the world putting people’s legs behind their heads! If Saraswathi would have set in a chair for 5 days giving orders, I would have been happy. Not only did she teach classes and assist every morning, she also went on an outing with us almost everyday! If I have half her energy at 76 I will be over the moon. Honestly, I don’t think I have that energy right now!
Everyone in my group fell in love with her.
Why is she so awesome? Glad you asked.
Saraswathi wanted to build a personal relationship with us. The first day we showed up, Prashanti, one of the tour organizers, announced, and I paraphrase, “she loves talking with you and taking pictures. Don’t be afraid.” You guys, I have been to workshops where the presenter literally is hiding before and after the event. Not Saraswathi. There were times when she would literally just show up beside you and start having a conversation. She spent hours together with us…just chilling. Talking about mundane stuff like cooking, saris and pets. The picture below was taken on the first day when she was chilling on the front porch.
She didn’t hold us in Utplutih or count Navasana extra slow to mess with us.
A Little Help From Our Friends
Sharmilla, Saraswati’s daugher, assisted Saraswathi. Sharmilla told us wonderful stories of using Ashtanga to heal people with severe asthma, speed the healing of broken limbs and help people with Parkinsons. Sharmilla also helps local women out of poverty. She sells their products in her store and helps their daughter’s receive an education.
My amigos had no egos
I can’t vouch for the other tour stops but everyone in Charlottesville was humble, friendly and open. No rockstar attitudes here.
We had Sam’s sweets!!
Every Saturday in Mysore, there would be a line out the door at Saraswathi’s shala for Sam’s sweets. In Charlottesville, Sam did not disappoint. I also got to hang out with Sam and he is just as sweet as his sweets.
I got my ass kicked by a 76 year old
I did my first led intermediate EVER with Saraswathi. After dying and being resurrected by pranayama, chanting and taking rest, I felt amazing. I had energy. I felt vibrant. I wanted to do it again but we only did that one day 🙁
To be clear, I died not because she was being hard on us, but because it was my first led Intermediate and I was not used to doing those poses at that pace. I am used to taking 15 breaths to get into Kapo and taking my sweet time pushing my leg down my back in Eka Pada. When we got to Mayurasana, I was so winded that I couldn’t hold myself up and that was the end of that. I would have loved to have continued but I was super happy that I got up from Laghu, caught my heels in Kapo and didn’t take out a row of people in Pincha Mayurasana! Seriously, every pose I was worried about, I executed with no problem. I didn’t even think about Mayurasana and that is the one I got tapped out on!!! Well, you know what they say, “Man plans, God laughs.”
The sweetest conference ever
Saraswathi wanted us to know that this was not about her. We were her children but Guruji’s students. She teaches Ashtanga because her father’s wish was to see Ashtanga spread all over the world. That’s it. She took no credit for anything. She said there were no Sharath students, no Saraswathi students, just Guruji students.
If you have been contemplating whether or not to go on this tour, go.
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.