By Nathan Enzminger
I was run down and angry last week... and yet, managed to squeeze on-board "Peter Pan Trailways" to get myself to a weekend workshop called "Introduction to Ashtanga" with David Swenson.
Every part of my body hurt and I was thoroughly convinced that I'd never get moola "bunga", much less jump throughs. "Learning to Fly", as Mr. Swenson calls it, might be for the other students, but not me. I'm destined to be the one who just can't get it. The student everyone secretly likes because they get to feel successful relative to me, but avoids to ward off catching a piece of my monster shadow.
Speaking of shadow, I've never met Mr. Swenson but have already decided that we're not going to like each other. I watched one of his videos and he reminds me of me. Same age, same build, same intensity (more or less). Plus, I can be that pain-in-the-ass workshop participant sometimes.
Self-hatred is powerful and relentless.
Okay, so I overworked last week, and I feel like I'm coming down with a cold. Can I embrace this moment as the gift it is, whatever that could possibly be? Why am I doing yoga anyway? Is it another blind, desperate attempt to be loved? But how can I possibly be lovable if I can't
do jump throughs?
I didn't trust Mr. Swenson at first, I think because of his Texas accent. My classmates seemed to be riveted. My spirits remained low.
I started to soften during Sun Salutations because that's what Sun Salutations do to me. Besides, I knew Ashtangis can't be BS-ed for long, especially 100 of us. Then Mr. Swenson told his first joke. I laughed out loud. What the hell was that, I wondered. And it kept happening.
I was starting to have fun!
We covered a lot of territory in the first series, and worked with partners to support and assist while learning jump throughs. Some key tips are to cross at my shins, not my ankles; and to flex my toes, not point them. We also learned about gaining intelligence in our hands, especially our fingers, so we can balance on our hands while in flight. Getting part way through and baby-stepping the rest of the way is also a useful tip. At one point, Mr. Swenson had us get into Downward Dog and repeat after him, "I'm a good person." He then had us attempt a jump through. Regardless of the outcome he lead us in another round of "I'm a good person."
Thus went the rest of the workshop, laughing, getting more amazing tips, getting to know my classmates and laughing even more. Oh what a relief!
It all ended while shootin' the breeze with David and some of my classmates over lunch. Someone asked me if I'm coming back in August for the Mela (David, David Williams and Danny Paradise). "Of course. Isn't everyone?" I replied without hesitating. I couldn't imagine missing it.
Nathan lives and practices in New York City.