Yesterday I took myself for a treat — Dharma Mittra’s two-hour master class, over on 23rd and 3rd. Populated mostly by teachers and serious yoga addicts, there’s nevertheless a friendly, non-competitive vibe. People are rolling from splits into one-handed handstands, or hopping on their forearms, but it never feels like showing off. Dharma’s laughing in the background, and saying “Don’t do more than the teacher can do! You make him embarrassed!” while the students float and fly. He teaches more inversions than any teacher I know, and there’s a whole troupe of amazing handstanders there, buoyed I think by the lilac carpet.
I went to work on my backbend — one of Dharma’s students is recreating his famous 908-pose poster with all of his students (shh, it’s a surprise gift), and I would like to demo Full Wheel or a variation. Jhon T’s sequence gave me the splits, and Dharma’s classes (with their million Crescent Poses) gave me my backbend so I’m excited to give it back via the poster. I will never forget the moment I reached Full Wheel, with my fingertips to my heels, in Dharma’s class on my birthday last year. [Yes, one’s mental state in the pose is more important than the pose itself, but I admit total pleasure in the Achievement.] The feeling of expansion and otherworldliness in that pose is intense.
Dharma pushes extremely acrobatic, athletic yoga, but reminds you that you’re practicing for God and not yourself. Meaning, meditate in these poses, let the energy flow through you without pride or expectation, and make yourself into an offering to the world. He’s such a radiant yet humble person that it is a burst of inspiration and relaxation to go there.
PS — Dharma’s adding a Level I/II class on Thursday nights, for people who want to experience his teaching but are “too scared” to take the Master Classes.