13 Nov 2013

Power of the Group

The other day I was teaching an english class in a kindergarten, we were getting reading to do the London Bridge is Falling Down song.  I put on the music and a couple of children started stomping to the beat, within seconds the whole class of 50 was pounding together, jumping up and down, 40 four-year-olds, carefully watching each other, synchronised and in perfect time to the music, it was tribal.

Made me think how we as humans like to be part of something greater than ourselves, how this can bring us strength, comfort, and a feeling of connectivity and inclusion.

I think that's what people who practice Ashtanga style yoga particularly like, the fact that we are all somehow connected to something much bigger than us, bigger than a teacher.  That we can visit any Ashtanga shala in the world and fit in, be a part of it, find common ground. That's why I am feebly keeping up this blog, to be a part of the cyber-shala.

To to tangibly experience the energy of the group is inspiring,  The togetherness.

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts - Gestalt.


I always feel this, especially when meditating or practicing yoga in a large group.  Something happens, something beyond words and analysis.  Something different than when I practice by myself. The power of the group - a beautiful feeling.

One of my best memories so far of the group feeling was my first trip to Mysore, full led class on New Years Day, I think Pattabhi Jois was counting.  What stays with me most vividly is the sound and feeling of unison and energy as 60 or so people inhaled into upward facing dog.  Adequate words to transmit this sensation allude me. Let's just say it was a good start to the year.

Matt Corigliano is coming for three days of mysore style practice, we will be a group of 20 or so practicing together. I am very much looking forward to it, and to being bathed in the energy of a mysore rom. It's been way too long since I last went to a class.

I am practicing idiosyncratically and all, is indeed, coming. A punctuated primary, no jump backs between seated asana, using blocks to support my knee, slowly and gently and working on the breath, bandhas, relaxing and working.  Back to the fundamentals. Discovering what I can do daily.  It's a good reminder.   After surgery I wasn't able to bend my right knee for a while, and so couldn't open it out to the side, consequently things have really tightened up in my hips. But I am enjoying practice, and am integrating some physio exercises into my sequence.  Practice really needs to be adaptable during and after injury.

The mountains have turned white here now, talk has turned to snowboarding.   Doctor says I can,  that I should go boarding. Go make muscle. But to only put out 30-50%. In other words take it easy.  May have to keep out of the powder forests.  We shall see.

Anyway I am very excited.
Something about the fresh cold biting air and views of white mountains that makes me inexplicably excited and and energised. If I had a tail, it would be wagging wildly.

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