Notes from an unorthodox Kofi class

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Kofia Busia is back in town. He is a longtime practitioner who was originally taught by BKS Iyengar. His classes never fail to challenge my thinking on yoga. Last night he broke all the rules. He did forward bends and back bends in the same sequence (a big no-no for traditional Iyengar teachers). He kept repeating three poses: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), and Prasarita Padottanasana (Expanded Intense Leg Pose) and intersperced many poses in between this trilogy of different-clanned poses.

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He further upped the ante by teaching Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III) after Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported All Body Pose, or shoulder stand). We are traditionally taught that after Sarvangasana, there should be cooling poses on the way to Savasana. The one rule he stayed with is teaching Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Head Pose, or headstand) before Salamba Sarvangasana.

The way Kofi teaches is not the Iyengar method. Kofi just says the name of the pose in Sanskrit and has you fill in the blanks. He rarely makes corrections. When he does make manual adjustments, it’s to get people deeper into the pose. 

While in the pose,  he will tell some story or anecdote which somehow relates to his sequence. Last night he talked about the circus attraction of a knife thrower and the live target. He said the trick is to get the knife as close as possible to the target without hitting it. He related that to the odd sequence he was teaching. He said we have to use our internal matter (I cannot recall the Sanskrit word he used) that is not just the muscle, but all the “hardware” of our being to allow us to perform each asana safely despite the odd order of poses. He also stated that all the great artists in history first learned the rules, and then broke them to create something new.

He also talked about how people who are masters in their craft deliberately add obstacles to their practice. He told how Billie Jean King would compete against two men at the same time. He told about how a writer in England went through the whole play of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and took out words with the letter “I” and “recast” them with another word. Thirdly, he talked about how Jazz Guitarist Django Reinhardt, who lost use of some of his fingers, but mastered his instrument despite his disability. Kofi said that other jazz guitarist taped their fingers to try to emulate Reinhardt’s style.

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As I am writing this the next morning, I notice that the sequence did not injure me, but my back is a bit stiff. I consulted another student in the class who said her back is stiff too. I will return tonight to his class to see what he conjures up next. Stay tuned!!!

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3 thoughts on “Notes from an unorthodox Kofi class

  1. Addie at Bodhi Tree Pose

    I got to go to a class with Kofi about a year ago, and was interested in it because he is my teacher’s teacher. We did lots of Dandasana. He makes the basic poses interesting and meaningful in a way most teachers don’t, and I really appreciate that.

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    1. yogibattle Post author

      So glad another blogger has shared a similar experience! There was one class Kofi did many years ago where he taught two poses in a two hour class: Tadasana and Dandasana. We could barely walk the next day.

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