Yesterday Ida and I went to Chicago to take a day-long posture clinic and class with Esak Garcia, the 2005 Bishnu Ghosh Asana World Champion and one of Bikram's senior teachers. We spent the first 5 hours breaking down a handful of the postures, taking them step by step, muscle by muscle, organ by organ. It was interesting to hear such an accomplished yogi talk about the different elements that make a complete posture. I was glad at many points to have the training and practice I have. I understood what Esak was saying from an anatomical and physiological standpoint and also from my own personal experience.
Esak's approach is similar to Mary Jarvis' and also to the Bikram community at large. Squeeze everything, engage everything all the time. This is different from Tony Sanchez's approach. More than once, Tony told us that he tries not to engage anything when doing the postures; that he uses energy instead of muscles. Sometimes I feel like the Bikram school is trying to defy the laws of physics instead of working with them: bend forward without shifting backward for a counterweight, stretch your backside muscles while also engaging them.
I was very happy that Esak also focused on stillness, something I have never heard another Bikram teacher (other than Bikram in his books) mention. Esak said that "the posture is holding still for 10 seconds." Simple and clear. But then the dialogue in class is always push, push, push, farther, deeper. It's a bit confusing.
After the posture clinic, we did the beginning class. Out of respect and curiosity, I tried the postures how Esak suggests, with complete engagement. It was powerful and very challenging, especially in the heat. Where normally I can practice postures for 5 hours without stopping, I had to rest after about 25-30 minutes, in the middle of the balancing series. It reminded me of my early days practicing Bikram's class: give 100% right from the start and burn out long before the class is done.
All in all, it was a great day. It is always inspiring and enriching to discuss yoga and to be around more accomplished yogis than myself. I learned a lot and tried some new things. Thanks Esak!
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga