Friday, on my way out of the Sun Center – which, by the way, is a misnomer because a far as I can tell it’s the studio with the fewest windows – I notice an advertisement for some upcoming yoga workshops. This one, in particular, catches my eye:
I’m intrigued. Either there’s been a serious proofreading lapse at Semperviva or this Mark Whitwell person is some kind of amazing super-guru.
When I get home I look up the details online. I watch the two attached videos. Mark Whitwell is Australian (perhaps Kiwi, I’m not an accent expert); he’s good-looking in a down-to-earth, hippie kind of way, with a long gray ponytail and a weathered face. In one video, he sits cross-legged on a platform and talks. In the other he is guiding a class. What he says resonates with me – namely, that yoga is not supposed to be physical or mental gymnastics. True yoga is about the breath. The breath should guide the yoga postures, not the other way around. If you can’t breathe deeply in a pose, you’re not doing it right for your body. He seems wise and authentic. I go to his blog and read some of the entries. They make sense to me.
The evidence thus weighs in on a proofreading lapse. I suspect that the provocative title of his book was chosen in order to boost sales, which in my humble opinion clashes a bit with the message, as does the iPhone app (yes, if you don’t have time to read the book, you can buy iPromise (iKidYouNot) for your phone and transform your life with only 7 minutes of yoga a day). But there you have it. The message has to get out somehow, doesn’t it?
I’m still tempted, comma queen that I am, to see if what’s advertised this weekend is actually on offer, but at $95 for a four-hour session, I’m not willing to risk it. I’ll go with a regular class instead. I can always get the app later.
DAY 5: Sunday, October 6, 10:30 am
I’m back at the Kitsilano studio, it’s a sunny day, and so I choose a spot at the back beneath the windows. The room, as usual, is packed. P– is young and toned, sporting a bushy black beard, a topknot, a tattoo, loose, knee-length knit pants and a plain white t-shirt. Reminds me a teensy bit of the horse king character on Game of Thrones, minus the bare chest and overdeveloped pecs and biceps. If you saw him on the street, you’d say Oh, I bet that guy’s a yoga instructor. I like him even more when he begins his class by turning off both the ventilation system and the music.
By now I understand that these classes have a certain structure: first the instructor shares a pearl of wisdom, then we sit or lie and breathe a bit, then we start doing sun salutations and it goes on from there until we all end up on our backs in corpse pose. The classes wrap up with a seated “Ommm” and the obligatory “Namasté.”
P– asks us how many of us are lazy, then how many of us are busy. We think these are opposites, he says. But in yoga wisdom, the busy people are actually the laziest ones. It’s relatively easy to be busy all the time, to make lists and check things off, to fill up your time with seemingly crucial activity. What’s more difficult is to create space for inactivity, for just being. Hmmm. Good point.
After a long contemplative sit, in which he talks a lot and I don’t catch all of it (I really must sit near the front next time) we start slowly moving. The movements are all guided by our breath, and P– wanders calmly around the room, explaining and demonstrating the gentler versions of the poses and only after that saying “and if you want to go further…” for the more challenging versions. I feel just fine limiting some, going further with others.
This is the most like my Lausanne class of all the classes I’ve attended so far. I’m so glad I renounced on love, sex and intimacy with Mark Whitwell and came here instead!
I go out to the Safeway parking lot where I’ve overstayed my one-hour limit by about a half an hour, and there’s no ticket on the windshield. Karma is mine this day.
Here’s the whole project: