Thursday, July 17, 2008

Matthew Sweeney Workshop, Saturday July 12

I left my notes at home so I’m doing this from fuzzy memory. Saturday morning we began by moving right into the Primary Series. He has taken significant instruction from Pattabhi Jois and teaches the most current version of the Primary Series. It seems surprising that something of such long standing tradition changes, but his yoga shala is called the Mysore Research Institute after all.

And it was subtle things - less breaths to move into and out of several postures, the elimination of bakasana (crane pose) around navasana (boat pose), no more handstand during navasana, no leaning back before moving into forward folds. For me they were small things - I do not yet have the strength to move from navasana into handstand and back; I didn’t learn the sequence with the bakasana (though I do use crane pose as a modification pose for bujapindasana - many students hips just don’t allow them to move into bujapindasana); and now that I’ve been practicing for a while, less breaths to move into and out of postures seems more natural to me.

We went through the whole sequence, then he spent the last hour breaking down the sequence and why we do what we do when. He expounded on his - Pattabhi Jois’s - philosophy about the Primary sequence. Then (thankfully!) we broke for lunch. I was hungry!

The class reconvened for a two and a half hour breakdown and discussion on the jump throughs and jump backs in the vinyasa system, including chakrasana (the rollback). This ties in with the slight change in hand placement we learned in the Friday evening class - the need to keep the shoulders open to allow you to move through.

This was perhaps the most intense part of the weekend (or a close second with Sunday morning’s class). So much to try and do! Keep the shoulders back and relaxed, use the thighs and abdominals, watch where your drishti is, keep the hands firmly planted on the ground. I thought Matthew did a great job of breaking each movement down and building it back up again. I came away with a great many things to work on and some very tired quads and shoulders. An afternoon very well spent.

I’ll expound on some of Matthews thoughts on philosphy in my last posting about the workshop weekend when I have my notes in front of me.

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