Laughing in Practice

Or more like, laughing at yourself in practice. The sort of laughter that comes like a loud sneeze at a funeral. Only that it is laughter and you can’t stop yourself.

Alright. So I go into practice, relatively on time (woke up at 415am, got to the shala by 515am). It is only Tuesday, after a moon day on Monday (yesterday)…so no rest today — full on practice in the Second Series up to the full Seven Deadlies.

Although I did not get much sleep last night, practice felt very strong and clear, with energy even through Karandavasana. I felt confident and hopeful. Maybe this means that the Seven Deadlies will not be so deadly!

Only that, halfway through Parighasana, I realized that I had entirely forgotten Nakrasana (The Crocodile)! I gasped in mid-breath. I found myself saying, “I forgot Nakrasana!” and Molly, who was sitting next me, laughed. “Oh, I forgot a pose, too.” I felt a little better then.

I tried to forgive myself and rationalized that this would give me more strength for the Seven Deadlies. Why oh why do they have to add SEVEN headstands after an already physically demanding (intense backbends followed by intense arm balances) practice?? Nonetheless, I go through the postures with faith. Sometimes with blind faith.

I come up to Mukta Hasta Sirsasana and decide to channel my inner “laruga” — meaning Laruga Glaser, who makes these Seven Deadlies look so seductively easy. Check it out here:

So, Mukta A through C was not so bad!! I made it through Mukta C and even shifted my hands to chataranga without toppling over. This was progress! Even Baddha A wasn’t bad — just regular Sirsasana in finishing poses. Baddha B – trickier, especially when you have to transition your arms to chatargana from folded position. Baddha C was like Pincha Mayurasana, only with your head to the mat. No big deal. But now, I get ready for Badha D. At Baddha D, I think hard to myself, “I am Laruga…” I guess it is really childish…but sometimes, to help myself in a pose, I try to inspire myself by visualizing how other inspiring practitioners would move through the pose. Baddha D still really scares me…I have become good at tumbling over…there has never been a day when I tried Baddha D without toppling over. But now, I chant to myself, “I’m laruga, I’m Laruga, I’m gonna float up with straight legs to a perfect point up into the air…”

…and the ceiling reels over, and KA-BLAM! I land flat on my back. Very Un-laruga. Oh. So. Very. Un-laruga.

I shuffle back to my mat. Others keep on practicing. It is still dark. Suddenly I am overcome with this crazy, uncontrollable laughter. It just whelped out of me. I mean really…I was trying to channel the graceful, powerful Laruga, and wound up crashing down on my mat. It was so ridiculous that I could only laugh. The shala was quiet but this giddy laughter kept on pouring out of me. Tears came out of my eyes and I had to stifle my mouth with my blanket. Others around me began to laugh, that’s how bad it was. It really was like laughing at a funeral. Andrew came over and said, “Well, it could be worse…you could be at Mysore and falling off the stage.” Of course this brought more crazy laughter. I could imagine Sharath sternly saying, “No falling! Bad girl!” I suppose that it is better to laugh than to cry. Finally I regain enough composure to do the pose again…this time (with Andrew standing to spot me) without falling over.

Many yogis talk about uncontrollable emotions that sweep through them in certain poses. I certainly had them in mine — fear in Supta Kurmasana (are you REALLY going to put my legs behind my head??), tears in Kapotasana, anxiety in Karandavasana…and strangely giddy, crazy laughter in Baddha Hasta Sirsasana.

I think it is the universe saying to me, “Silly girl, stop taking youself so seriously!”

Sometimes it is OK to laugh a little. I felt wonderful the rest of the day…


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