1,800 Limbs

By Martha Marcom

In early March, Jerry and I traveled to San Diego, to the Ashtanga Confluence, to join some 450 others in celebration of our path. Much has been written about this, as reported in the Confluence Countdown Blog. After a good month of reflection, here’s a bit of what I would like to share —
the love and beauty, respect and devotion and great fun of this swirling together.

The honoring of our guru, Sri Pattabhi Jois, was precious. And now, his early students, our teachers at the Confluence, are our honorable and beloved gurus.

The conference began with a puja to Ganesha. On a glorious evening, we were seated at tables with flowers on a green lawn that swept down to the bay. Eddie Stern was a marvel, guiding us through the Vedic sacraments, chanting verse after verse and also telling jokes in English all the while. The hearty laughter as part of the holy ritual marked a beginning where anything was possible.

Three hundred of so students practice in a lovely ballroom. Here is an image of the altar.

I noticed many yogis working through the 3rd series. This is a remarkable practice to witness, and they were moving through their jaw-dropping asanas with matter of fact naturalness and ease. I felt as if the whole room was a garden and on each mat was a flowering of wonderfully wild, yet contained beauty. Through the sequence they flowed, with ease, speed, efficiency. Staying within the space of one sticky mat among many, a yogini entered handstand, arched into backbend, stood up into Samasthitihi-over and over, as a form of breath meditation.

Imagine the joy of having David Swenson arrive to help you in Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana, and Tim Miller give you a guiding, informative touch in Down Dog, and Mary Taylor release your entire body back into her hers to find a whole new revolved triangle. There was a strong, thrilling energy of just being present in that space, with all of the good intention and focused attention, and with us all loving our practice and each other.

We were living together in paradise..walking to class, we passed through tropical gardens in bloom and ponds with coy, ducks, turtles, and parrots. You might run into an old buddy at any time, and you could smile at everyone, knowing you shared something very dear.

All 450 of us gathered for panel discussions in the exploration of the yamas and niyamas. It was rich and moving to see how deeply each teacher had embodied these qualities. As the teachers spoke in turn, it was beautiful to see the depth of love and respect they had for each others’ understanding of these aspects of our eight-limbed path. Guruji often said that through a long and devoted asana practice, the other limbs become easy; the Confluence teachers shined with this truth.