Sunday, August 25, 2013

Doing Yoga On The Roof Of The World

During my recent trip to China, I spent a week doing yoga at a remote monastery in Tibet, the Roof Of The World.  I practiced under the watchful eye of a Tibetan Shaman.

My “final exam” required me to do one hundred prostrations on the stone walkway surrounding the monastery’s temple.

For those non-yogis in the crowd, here’s what a prostration involves.  You hold a half pound smooth stone in each hand.  You wear a smooth leather apron.  You stand straight, raise your rock-holding arms over your head, click the rocks together, and then dive forward headfirst, sliding on your slick leather apron.  The same action you would take if playing baseball and sliding into second base. When you come to a stop, you hop to your feet, and do the same thing again.  One hundred times.  At 14,000 feet.  Where the air is rare. It’s a real “Whew” experience.

I finished my one hundred prostrations in two hours.  I was literally sucking wind at the end.

For my “graduation present,” the Shaman gave me a beautiful fire agate prayer bead necklace which he had blessed.

I said to the Shaman, “Holy Master, I have a god daughter.  She’s fourteen years old and has been doing yoga with me since she was eleven.  She would adore one of these necklaces.  Could I please have one for her?”

 The Shaman contemplated for a moment as he always did whenever I asked him a question.  Finally, he nodded.  “Of course you may have another necklace for your god daughter,” he said.  He smiled and pointed at the stone walkway.  “Give me one hundred more!”

 I gave that second necklace to my god daughter as an eighth grade graduation present.  I told her, “You lose it, you break it, you’re going back to Tibet and doing a hundred around the temple for the Shaman.”

We both wear our fire-agate prayer bead necklaces Western-yoga bracelet style, wound three times around our wrists. We are definitely two of the coolest yogi’s in our yuppie downtown Boston studio.

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