I’ve been in Rishikesh, India, for 1 week now and practiced Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore style with Yogi Kamal Singh every day and what I can say is: I’ve survived!
Kamal is very different from all Ashtanga Yoga teachers I’ve been practicing with up to now, and that list starts to include a few names such as Sharath Jois, Saraswathi, Eddie Stern, Graeme Northfield, David Swenson, Thomas Zorzo and more. From day one I was having class with him, only one word surfaces to my mind to describe him: tornado!
Kamal can be described as ‘energetic’ if I want to use a word that only in the least describes his energy and zeal. He is all over the class (currently) about 40 people, from Surya Namaskara A up to the last shavasana and he adjusts people in whichever position he finds them when moving along the rows. Hence, over the first 3 days, I had already been adjusted in all postures, and I say ALL, of my primary and beginning of 2nd series and… it isn’t only about adjustments, it is all about how those are made! Those are strong and energetic as Kamal is, so each time I’ve been brought to my limit, but never beyond!
You’re doing an upward dog and think you’ll be on your own? No way! Your shoulders will be opened wider and your backbending go deeper.
You’re quite satisfied with your ardha baddha padangusthasana, side version? No way! Your coccyx will tuck as never before, your leg will go up till to almost touch your shoulder.
You’re on your round of urdhva dhanurasana warm up before standing? If Kamal believes you’re strong enough, your hips will be the platform on which he’s going to perform arm balances.
And if you can come up from backbending on your own, your closing sequence won’t be any longer the same. So, you’re shirshasana will no longer be a resting pose: you keep it for a while, than bend and here is where Kamal will be showing up:
– 3 times up and down to almost touch the mat with your feet;
– shirshasana variation with head lifted from the floor (I bet you’re gonna get your balance! With me, he presses one of his feet on my hands and… it’s done!);
– and over the week he brought me on Friday to do ‘tip top’: from scorpion to urdhva dhanurasana and up to standing for just one breath before backbending again, going to handstand and finish with a jump in chaturanga!!!
Well, useless to say that was strong for me: emotions where all over, there was no pride, no ego, just a flash of emotions and a feeling of crying I managed in some way to hold under control.
Is that the aim of practising asanas? Or at least one?
Is that the Indian style of teaching yoga before Westners moved in?