Last Saturday Sanjeev Sharma landed up for a walk-in class:). I was very happy to see him. He belongs to the original group of students I started teaching at Kandivli. He used to come from Mira Road, a truly far off suburb.. When I started my short experiment off Carter Road, yes, on the Pavement opposite Cafe Coffeeday , in Bandra, he used to come every Sunday to give me moral support. Students from Bandra who signed up will not come, but he would, unfailingly. Commuting such a long distance, so early in the morning. That was IMMENSE for me, because other days, he may bunk at Kandivli, but at Carter Road which was really really far away from his home, he would come before others, in a protective respectful gesture that I have felt truly touched about. And cherish. None of my students have given that to me, simply because I have never asked for that sort of display. But he did that naturally, without my asking. So u can imagine how pleased I am that he still is around to think that I have something worthwhile to teach. Some of the others of that very same batch disappeared.. a teacher is so used to that:) without a word, displaying the typical lack of courtesy that is more the norm from most students (usually Indians:( and that I sort of have come to expect from every student, including the ones who rave about me .. But I have felt that though this may be the norm, that I will never become like the other teachers, some very good ones, who have become withdrawn and distant and don't have much time for individual attention to their students... and that I will love, or be stern, and continue giving my individual attention, just so to draw the max potential of a student on the mat... And I think Sanjeev is one of the rarest of my students who sees some value in that attitude of mine-- so difficut to sustain, so difficult to sustain!!
At the Satsang, put together suddenly, and the first Sivananda one in Mumbai, with Prahlada, I recall this: when Prahlada had walked in, in the course of nervously discussing something with him I recall mentioning that one of my students does the lotus in the headstand. When Sanjeev was introduced to Prahlada later, suddenly Prahlada said," U are the one who does the lotus in the headstand." Both Sanjeev and I were thunderstruck... how did Prahlada know which of my students did it, since I did not mention the name or even the gender? It must be that Sanjeev looks like the sort who does the lotus in the headstand:) That may be how!
And if I were to make a list of the number of students who will do a pose without nit-picking (my left eye is twitching in the shoulderstand, my big toe feels cramped in the sun salute-- u name it, I have heard it, every silly and sad thing that can crop up on the mat) and without fussing or displaying nervousness, he will be the only student who will be there in the top of the list!!!
This Saturday too, he did the lotus-headstand, its side-twists, mayurasana. He tried the scorpion, though that was a bit rusty ... Earlier, when I started teaching the peacok and the scorpion, he was obviously my first target of experiment! And most difficult asanas I tried it out on him first. Though like the other really good yoga practitioners (it is the less disciplined ones who are constantly trying or desperate for variations before being strong in their basics) he preferred holding the basic poses mediatively, he would oblige me silently:) So that is how I got fooled (and gained the confidence) into thinking that teaching tough poses, especially to a timid people like Indians, is easy!!!
So, yes, with students like him, it is often difficult to make out who is the teacher, who is the student. He has taught me a lot of things about yoga, that go beyond the poses:)