“If you don’t know the Sanskrit, learn it!”  Prem commands with his calm, all-knowing authority.

I wait patiently on the floor, sitting upright, eyes softly focusing on the new guy who looks like he’s stepped off the set of Generation Kill.  I’m not necessarily attracted to the guy, although yoga does have a tendency to make you a little bit carnal at times, I just can’t get over his muscles!  I’ve never seen a guy built like that up close before, and wonder if he’d find it strange if I asked if I could take his picture…or better still – whether I could touch him…

“You finished?”

Prem is looming over me, tall and austere, with these penetrating blue eyes, does he know what I’m thinking?

“Yeah, I’ve just done the last one I know…”  Please don’t ask me what it is….please don’t ask me what it is….

“Which is?””

Fuck.  “Its the leg straight, leg bendy one, arm wrapped around the knee…” I accompany my description with a light-touch, fast-forward demonstration “…one.”

“Hmmm.”    I feel like he strokes his beard, I remember him stroking his beard, but I don’t think he actually ever strokes his beard…”you should learn the names.”

“I try” I look up at him, struck by the inherently British yes sir, no sir teacher-student inferiority complex.  I do try.  Probably not as much as I should, but they’re always so phonetically different from what’s written on the sheet, and I’ve developed an embarrassing stutter over “as…a….as…a….ass…ananana” bit at the end of each one.

“Its called Marichyasana.  The ones before are Janu Siryasana A,B and C, now its Marichyasana A, B, C and D.”

“Marichyasana, Marichyisana, Marichyasana…” I parrot.

“You’re done for the day.”

“Ok.  Thank you.”  I nod my head, yes sir no sir, and prepare myself for the closing sequence: modified back-bends, forward folds, shoulder stand, plough, face-in-crotch, gently lower legs to ground, vertebrae by vertebrae, arch my upper body and balance on the crown of my head…5 breaths….then hip stretch, meditation, lie-back and think of nothing for ten minutes.  All the while muttering “Marichyasana, Marichyasana…”  Oh damn!  What about all the others?

By the time I rolled up the mat and got back to my homestay I’d made a promise to myself – that I’ll learn the Sanskrit names of every pose I’ve done, AND the morning chant before I move on to Thailand.  That gives me three weeks.  I reckon 30 minutes each day of studying – repetition, repetition, and just saying them out loud!  Sing along in the morning, and stop being so afraid all the time of getting things wrong…

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