I've seen Rohit a couple of times in studio before. He and his wife both teach. They come from Jacksonville, but apparently like to visit the Houston area for extended periods and have taught here before. Amy told me that she simply assigns time blocks to them, and it doesn't matter to her who does the teaching.
Rohit comes from Queens. I know because he said he was a Met fan, while complaining about the Yankee logo on one girl's shorts, and then said he grew up under the shadow of Shea Stadium. It's hard for me to guess his age. He could be anywhere from 15 years younger than me to a few years older. He's been doing Bikram for quite a while, and I heard that he got his teacher certification in Bikram's first teacher training. The yoga background makes me guess that he's probably older than he looks to me, but who knows. Finally, Rohit is a sanskrit name and he picked it up while living on an ashram.
I always like taking classes from new teachers. But even so, last night's class was special. First, the dialogue was different. He didn't follow what I've grown used to as Bikram dialogue. Instead, I had the feeling that there was a true dialogue going on, and he was giving instructions on an "as needed" basis. I knew I was going to have to adjust to this when, in Eagle, I was waiting for him to tell us to sit down. He didn't, but everyone else in the class did the squat and crossed their legs. After a while, it finally dawned on me that we had gone past those instructions, and I really needed to get into the pose. This may sound like a bad thing, but it wasn't. It simply meant that I had to co-operate in what was going on, and just that brought a new sort of energy to the class. I was still following what he was saying, but going on autopilot was out of the question.
Next, he had perhaps the gentlest teaching style I've ever encountered. From half-moon on, he stressed that we should give full effort and intensity, but that we should never struggle. As he explained it, struggling actually decreases the ability to give full effort, because struggling almost inevitably misdirects energy. I had never thought about it that way before, but I think he has a point.
Another example of the gentleness were some of the new things I heard in the dialogue. A few times, in the midst of the sort of instructions we hear all the time ("solid, concrete, lampost" or "pull on your heels") he would say something like "Turn up the corners of your mouth." Said that way, it sounds like a posture instruction, when he's really just saying smile. The cool thing was that this backward way of saying smile actually made me smile and chuckle a bit.
He was also a hands on instructor, even more so than Miranda. I got hands on corrections in Balancing Stick, Wind Relieving, and Half Tortoise. I've always liked this and wish more teachers would dare to do it.
And I learned some things in class. In each sit up, he would give us one new thing to concentrate on -- heels on the floor, then ankles flexed, then keeping arms glued to the ears, etc... Doing this one step at a time gave me a clearer idea of how the sit-up should feel than I've had before.
Finally, despite his gentle approach, I think he got more out of me than I've given in class for quite awhile. I've got that "opening" feeling in several new areas, especially in my hips, shoulders and across my upper back. I haven't had such a pervasive, good feeling of soreness since the first couple of months when I started. I'm not sure why.
There must be something about Rohit's motivational style that creeps up. In the middle of class, I would not have said that I was working especially hard. I never felt wiped out at all. Quite the opposite, I felt alert and energized throughout. Only afterward did I realize how fully I had pushed myself.
The day 132 meditation is about kama, which is enjoying the fruits of your labors. Gates identifies kama with gratitude, at least for him, and he says that it is his starting point. Here, I'm definitely confused. I have no quarrel with the importance of gratitude. But enjoying the fruits of your labors is, by definition, an end. You labor, you get your fruits, and then you enjoy them.
But it looks like that may be a false model. Or perhaps there's something lost in the translation. Maybe gratitude can be both the starting point, and the fruit. When you've done something hard, and done it well, it certainly makes sense to me that you would both simultaneously enjoy the benefits of what you've done and show gratitude. A perfect, and simple example for this, I think, is just saying grace before eating. Gratitude enhances the meal.
And on another note, I found the same thing to be helping by expressing my thanks after the standing series. My gratitude for what I've done helps me to enjoy the rest of the class, and it seems to help with the floor series. Thus, this expression of gratitude is both a starting point, and an end. Ultimately, I think what Gates may be trying to say is that the point of kama is the enjoyment of the fruits of your labor, and that joy and gratitude are intrinsically intertwined.