17 March 2008

Eat, Play & Ashtanga...Miami Style

With the sad news of Guruji canceling his long-awaited two-week workshop in Islamorada, a few of my fellow yogini friends, Isa, Pria & Finelli, decided to embrace the weekend and head to Miami to take Mysore classes at the Miami Life Center. We had heard what an amazing yoga shala this was from our yoga teacher, Sati and had taken several Ashtanga workshops with MLC co-founder, Tim Feldman. Thanks to Pria's Mother, who has a gorgeous condo in Key Biscayne we didn't have to worry about accommodations.

When we arrived at MLC early Friday morning on March 14th, the four of us were like little girls going to a giant dollhouse heaven. We were so excited to finally be in the presence of Kino McGregor, an Ashtanga teacher certified by Sri. K. Phattabhi Jois himself. When she entered the room, I looked over at Pria and mouthed the words "Oh my God!" as if Gwen Stefani had just walked into the room or something. We had seen this extraordinary woman on the cover of Yoga Journal, and on several YouTube videos doing amazing asanas that would blow your mind. When we began Mysore class, Kino controlled the room with an elegant, graceful dictatorship and peaceful intensity that sent chills throughout my body. There were many visitors at MLC practicing that day and she had this amazing ability of knowing where everyone was in their Ashtanga practice despite the fact that she had never met many of the practitioners before. Kino is definitely a great feminine power force of light, love and elegance. Her manner reminds me very much of Sati.

The next morning we took led primary class with Greg Nardi, who was like another famous celebrity to us. After class was over we hesitantly approached him like little groupies and asked if we could take a picture with him. We saw this man do a levitating hand stand on YouTube which left me speechless. The highlight of the class was when he had us hold head stand for 3 minutes (and its a pose I'm accustomed to holding for about 45 seconds, max...on a good day). That was such a humbling moment...Greg told us that he heard Guruji say many times that you can really only measure an asana by how long you can stay in it...something that I'm sure I've heard Sati discuss on an occasion or two, but it really made me think about my yoga practice and what I am really doing in it?

The day after Greg's class, we placed ourselves in familiar, comfortable and loving territory by going to Tim Feldman's Mysore class. Thanks to our yoga teachers at Yoga Life, we have come to know and love Tim from taking several workshops with him. His warm and friendly hugs and kisses immediately set us at ease for Mysore.

I had a realization in class at MLC that I am in a battle with Ashtanga yoga (and have been...for quite some time). Every time I practice Ashtanga, I am fighting with it. When I come to the mat to practice, I feel like I have armed myself with a sword and shield. When Ashtanga is defeating me in a certain asana, my body begins to defend itself against it. I become afraid that Ashtanga will win and take over me and hold me prisoner. I will have no choice but to surrender to Ashtanga and be it's slave forever. Any trace of who I was before will have disappeared and my identity will be lost...and there will be nothing left of me except the bones and remains of a caged captive. Then...fortunately...in moments of reason during the "battle", I think to myself...I should be SO lucky to be Ashtanga's slave, hellloooo! This is what I have been working towards....it's what I want to happen. Why am I so afraid to go to a place that I have established as my final destination? I know...it all sounds very dramatic for yoga...but, that's how it is.

When we weren't practicing Ashtanga at MLC we basically spent our time eating, laying by the pool, eating, listening to Ani DiFranco, hanging on the beach and more eating. The weather was beautiful, I never knew where my cell phone was and I did nothing related to law school for four days. It was AWESOME. I give much appreciation and many thanks to Tim, Kino and Greg and the MLC team for making our visit so beautiful, pleasant and wonderful. I also give lots of love to Pria, Isa and Finelli for all their openess and giving.


  1. Beautiful post, Shivani! Sounds like you had an amazing weekend. I can relate to your comments about 'battling' Ashtanga...you are singin my song, sistah! You are right, surrender surrender. :)

  2. Oh, my!! I did not get to read it all. But this is good stuff. Not sure if you got my message on Facebook. I went to send you a hug, ended up sending 67 people the same thing and could not get back to your message. Hope you are well.