Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions.
Last week in NYC, I signed up for a week of classes at a shala around the corner from where we stayed. After the first Mysore class, the senior certified teacher signed me in personally. He had assisted me in Utthita Hasta Padangustanana and Urdhva Dhanurasana.
He asked me the usual basic information and then we came to my birth date, which I gave him without saying the year. There is a reason why I like to keep my age classified—especially around yoga teachers.
This teacher responded to the day of my birthday by saying he knew some people who were born on that date (Sharath was born two days later). We bantered a bit about birthdays and parties.
Then, he pressed me for the year. I gave it without fudging, as I often do.
"You're doing really well," he said.
In a different context, those words would be cause for some small sense of elation—a compliment from a certified and honored Ashtanga teacher!
But in that moment, we both knew what he was really saying: you're doing really well....for your age."
So dear Teachers, It's time to ask a few favors of those of you who might be willing:
Please ignore my age and hide (from me and others) whatever it means to you!
Please do not patronize me or be surprised that I can do certain poses OR assume that I cannot learn to do others well.
Please treat me exactly like everyone else in the class—the majority of whom are about 20 or 30 years old.
Please push me hard. Be ruthless and demanding....at least until I cry "Uncle!"
***On the other hand, it''s absolutely important to believe any student of any age if he or she does raise the flag and says.. .my back is injured or my hurting elbows are making chaturangas very painful, or whatever.