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YD Goes To Yoga School Week 4: Arjuna Gita Hangover

in YD Goes to Yoga School

Question: How is it that when you have a few days off you’re even more tired than when you power through a 3-week yoga teacher training-athon? Krishna? Bueller? Sweet mother of pearl, we had the weekend off! So why is my frontal lobe on the fritz? Oh, of course, it is the common condition known as yoga hangover, which often follows yoga fever, and is only cured by more cow pose? Oy.

This week kicked off with more in-class assisting, and in my opinion, the pièce de résistance of this YTT. A tip for blossoming yoga teachers! Write down every sequence of every class you assist or practice in. Observing or flowing through asana doesn’t necessarily register in the noggin until you regurgitate it on a piece of paper, which also, lucky for you, improves your memory. And all that reprocessing will organize the info – why some poses go where, what theme helped the class along etc. –  and linger in your brainy database to serve you later on in creating your own classes. Neat!

Though we did have a wee break this week (a trend that will mostly continue – one weekend on, one weekend off going forward – woohoo!), it doesn’t mean we didn’t cover enough material to keep our neurons bound up in pretzel pose for days. Yes, I thought the subtle body talk was heady. ahem. Wednesday night we had our first Bhagavad Gita discussion, which was a feisty combination of fascinating, head-scratching, and overwhelming, and in the short 2-hour time frame went a little bit like that “Everything You Need to Know about ‘Lost’ in 8 minutes!” super duper recap. Arjuna and Krishna! Dharma! Karma! Artha, Moksa, Sruti, Smrti, Purusa, Prakrti, and the mama Mahabarata, of which the Bhagavad Gita is just a small episode. Our fearless lecturer led us through the text (a majority had the Stephen Mitchell translation), each us of us reading a phrase or two and then taking a pause to reflect (read: let us launch our onslaught of questions, ranging from how Arjuna’s battle relates to war today, to far more existential why are we here/life’s purpose territory).

For those daunted by sinking your teeth into the Gita, I hear you. I don’t have the “Bhagavad Gita for Busy People” iPhone app for nothing. And if we’re letting our honesty flags fly here, I’ve been hesitant to dig into an ancient text that has always, to me, had the tinge of religion. However, I do agree it is literally an essential book for the yogadork reading list. Needless to say, 2 hours isn’t enough to get through more than the first 40 phrases of Chapter 2 (when the juicy part starts between Krishna and Arjuna) and any sort of in-depth discussion, and I’ll be doing lots more lurking over at Bob Weisenberg’s Gita Talks.

One particularly interesting part of the discussion was the Gita/Hamlet comparison. Hamlet’s quote:

Not a whit, we defy augry; there’s a special
providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now,
’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it
be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.
(V, ii, 218-21)

has been related to Arjuna’s conflict of dharma, and Krishna’s response of council:

Indifferent to gain or loss, to victory or defeat, prepare yourself for the battle and do not succumb. (2.38)

Faced with crisis Arjuna and Hamlet brace for whatever battle lie ahead knowing there is divine guidance. Coincidentally, “the fall of a sparrow” is also a reference to the Bible (Matthew 10:29) where Jesus assures his disciples of divine providence. But let’s not get religious! We have Deepak Chopra and Julia Roberts to keep that dharma going. As for me, it’s hair of the downward dog.

And I’ll close with my favorite BG bit, inspired by my teacher: “On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed; even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow.” (2.40)

I dare you to make a ‘Lost’ comparison…


YD yoga school updates should come pretty regularly on Sundays, at the wrap of each week. Disclosure: Training is with YogaWorks, NYC (I am not being paid to say that, Paula Lynch rocks).

Thanks to everyone who’s donated any amount. I could still really use the support. If you appreciate YD please consider a donation. Thank you!

EarlierYD Goes to Yoga School Week 3: Teaching Beginners, Where the Action Is!

4 comments… add one
  • Congratulations on going to yoga school! I hope to make it there one day myself. In the meantime am going to live vicariously through your yoga school updates. LOVE it.

  • Wow – just 2 hours to try and cover that much of the Gita … insanity. I bet that would have been a vibrant discussion though. 🙂

  • In my teacher training program last year, we spent one full day of our training (which equates to about 5 1/2 hours) on the Gita. All of us walked out of their with our heads aching and our whole idea of existence blown to bits. It took us weeks to get over the philosophy portion of our training. Folks were questioning their relationships with their partners, their reason for doing yoga, their entire thought process. We were a mess. So I totally ‘feel’ you on this one! It’s fun though, huh? Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more about your training. I’m in my first year of an Iyengar training program myself.

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