Ashtanga Pirates • 20 August 2007

Stepped aboard the HMS Home Simply Yoga this morning and a beautiful longhaired man with big hoop earrings and a heavily accented hello kissed me generously on both cheeks.

What’s this? Well, turns out a Finn named Petri is subbing for a few weeks. He walked in the room like a natural.

He watched me for the first hour. Stayed near in the places I might need him, and held off when he saw I did not. By the time I completed tittibasana, which I always imagine is the climax of practice, I was ready for the usual 15 minutes of resting poses before dialing in the intensity for the portion of third series that’s mine to do.

I’ve gotten so I don’t take the second half of the second series at all seriously. After tittibasana, it’s a couple of nice inversions and some childish balancing postures, some long stretches, and a long gaze inward at gomukasana, the nonsense of supta urdvha, and then back into real ashtanga practice with the initiation of third.

Last week at Yoga Sutra, a few days I just dropped most of those poses because I figured I had more interesting things to do. The arrogance. So I suppose what happened this morning, well: I had it coming.

Petri the Finn raised the skull and crossbones at nakrasana, inching up alongside my black manduka and appraising my fairly pathetic hops with narrow eyes and arms crossed at the chest. It wasn’t at all clear if he was pleased.

And then at vatayanasa, I was hi-jacked. Godhelpme, where’d my rest go? Heel must be in even tighter to the crook of the knee, feet utterly perpendicular to the mat’s edge. And what? Throw the head back and rotate the palm another 90 degrees?Gomukasana was another revolution, now sitting on the far heel rather than the near one (and barely keeping upright), head again thrown back (and shaking, for that matter). Somehow I sneaked my supta urdvha, with its hopeless tendency to unbind for a second in the middle of the roll, past him, though when he saw me move into third he came over and nearly made me do it a second time. Whew. But he seemed fine with my third series, although for the first time ever, I fell out of UKK-A. It had been a long morning.

I’ve been on the verge of telling V. than everything is downhill from here, now that she’s begun pincha mayurasana. But now I’m not so sure. The second half of second has been reborn to me today, and it seems to be as challenging as anything.

As for the Finn, when I came out of rest he had rolled out a blanket at the back of the room and was conked out there himself. Confident already that he didn’t need to sleep with one eye open in order to keep us in line.  So: more captain than pirate, already.