"And that was a monumental shift in my attitude towards my practice. It gave me the belief that perhaps I could do some of this stuff. You know I watch people doing drop backs and standing up... I thought that's for... That will never be me. Not in this lifetime." - Kevin Brackley.
Just watching this again today to get ready to post and I was reminded what an emotional interview this was. Especially Part 2.
As many of you know when you sign up for the Ekaminhale email list you get a 5 part series where I talk about how I recovered from a back injury using the Ashtanga method. What I never expected when I wrote it was how many people would also write me and share their stories.
Over a year ago I got an email from Kevin Brackley. He told me his own journey of working his way through the series and doing postures he never dreamed he could (which included a little tough love from Sharath - such a good story).
Then as can happen, life circumstances took all those postures away.
It just so happened we were in Mysore at the same time so I met up with him to get the whole thing on video which now I can share with you.
Listening to Kevin I found myself amazed and inspired by his determination and enthusiasm. He's a natural storyteller and a perfect example of how no matter what postures you can or can't do the real benefits lie in working through them.
You start where you are and work from there. It's not what you do but who you become.
Or better said "Practice and all is coming" - Guruji.
I got injured playing tennis. Tennis is a one sided game. I was recommended by someone I worked with, a physiotherapist. She did physiotherapy stuff, but she also gave me postures based on yoga to do, three times a day. And then in 1996, this place called the Life Centre opened in London. Lo and behold, I found myself in the beginners class. But I didn't know it was an Ashtanga class. I was really on it! I couldn't believe how awake and alive I felt after the class, eventhough my body was physically shattered. Lady called Liz Lark in London, she was my teacher in London. She said, "I'm running this retreat in Carcassone, in Southwest France." And that was really my introduction to Ashtanga properly, and doing it everyday.
Somebody replied or made a comment on my blog that you really should come and do Mysore practice. You know, now it's time to make the leap. And it does feel like a big leap. From being lead all the time to actually having to self motivate yourself. So I went along to my first Mysore class, and a posture like Supta Kurmasana where I'd previously like stick my hand through, count to five. Move on to... well, I'm never gonna do this. That's for the bendy girls up the front. And the teacher suddenly, she came behind me and I felt hands on my back squashing me flat in Kurmasana. And then suddenly one arm would go around, then one arm would go around. Are those my fingers I'm holding now? Am I grabbing all of my teacher's fingers? And that was a monumental shift in my attitude towards my practice. It gave me the belief that perhaps I could do some of these stuff. You know I watch people doing drop backs and standing up... I thought that's for... That will never be me. Not in this lifetime.
Something is going to change...
The company I was working for in 2011, they decided to relocate. It was a really stressful job as well, and I just thought maybe it's time I did something else. This stress that I was-- alright, the money was good and everything else, but I was going home and I was tired and I've had enough. The day I walked out of there, I thought yeah. This is when something's going to change.
Two weeks later I got on a plane. I came to Mysore. Went to Sharath's office with my 30,000 rupees and gave him my money, and gave him my bits of paper. And he wrote out my Shala pass and he got 4:30, and he goes "4:30." And I said, "Afternoon?" And he got a big smile and "No, morning."
It was like, I never practiced that early in my life. Maybe 7 o'clock at the earliest. Four thirty in the morning, do you mean this? The first two weeks I found it really tough. I found the practice tough. The getting up tough. I was absolutely wrecked. I was going to bed at 9 o'clock, but the noise on Contor Road-- the dogs howling, the rickshaw beeping, the motorbikes going up and down. I was getting an hour and a half, two hours sleep. You know how it is. I was absolutely shattered.
Kevin, stand up!!!
So gradually, over the course of the next six weeks or so... By the middle of month two I was really starting to settle in to it. I was able to do garbha pindasana and Sharath let me carry on and do the full primary as I was doing. And I was really enjoying it. But he was really on my case for the back bends. A friend of mine, a lady called Denise Chu teaches in Singapore. She was actually assisting here. A month later, I met her in London. And she actually told me that Sharath had told her not to assist me in drop backs cause he knew I could do it, and it was purely fear. So she told me that the assistant, that she's been told not to help me. Then there was one magic moment on the 21st of November 2011. A day I will never forget. I dropped back, it was quite good. I walked my hands, and I heard Sharath he had been yelling at me across the Shala. "Kevin, stand up! You can do it!" And, on this morning I didn't realize he was adjusting the person next to me and I saw him out the corner of my eye. And I went back. For some reason, that morning I just went for it. But what I didn't realize was he'd actually come across and taken a pace down my mat. I think he was at the point of giving me the start off. But I came, I just went for it. I came up and we are literally nose to nose. And he goes, "Good!" He gave me a high five and then he goes "Do it again."
I mean, could I do it again? Could I hell? But it was... I went back, and he helped me back up. But it was an amazing moment just to stand up with him in front of me. And then the next week, he said "Kevin, Pashasana." And it was like, from week one not getting passed Garbha Pindasana to now, we're towards the end of the second month. Now I can drop back and I've stood up in Mysore for the first time ever. And he's given me Pashasana which is the first posture of second series. It was an amazing, amazing time.
So I got back home to the UK where it was actually bloody freezing cold, January. I got another job reasonably quickly. I went back to my teacher Louisa at AYL and she helped me carry on with the practice. And at the end of 2012, one morning December 7th, I'm walking to work and snowing. I'm taking the usual shortcuts through the carpark, and there's one of these traffic hump things covered in snow and I didn't see. I slipped. I flew up in the air and came down on my left shoulder, and I was in agony. There was nobody else around. I managed to get myself up. I walked to work and I'm trying to dry myself off on a radiator, and then I passed out with pain. The two guys I was working with, they put me in a car and took me to the hospital. Got to the hospital and I found that I fully fractured my humerus. I had literally snapped it in half. Clean in half. It was actually broken in two halves.