Little teapots filled to the brim!
Monday morning 10am, sitting in the classroom, everyone was pretty quiet, looking down into their notes, seeking at least a minimum of short term memory. We had a very clear idea of what would be on the test, but teachers can throw curve balls, so we weren't ignoring the other topics. We were told to relax, "what good has this course in yoga been if you haven't learned how to relax?" asked one of the teachers. We put down our notes and played a conceptual game, everyone participated, calmness overcame us for a few moments, we spoke of the concept and sat quietly, aware of our breath, the tests were handed out.
You could sense that all of us were like little teapots filled to the brim with answers. Once we were allowed to start you could see everyone tipping over, spilling all the answers out onto the page, with any luck they weren't a jumbled mess. The test lasted about an hour, it was time for lunch. The teachers divided the test among them and began to score them.
After lunch many of us collected outside discussing how we thought we did and what we were going to do after certification. Periodically one or two of us would wander up to the classroom to see the status. Other students were up there quietly socializing, waiting to be called to have their papers discussed. The next hour was dedicated to evaluating our tests and calling each of us up to clarify our mistakes to make sure we understood the correct answers.
Mrs. Jiya called my name. She was my favorite instructor, very bold. She proclaimed once it's my nature to be loud. Most yoga instructors I've come across in the West have been very calm, collected, peaceful in speech or in the other realm, if they are of the gym variety, often energetic as if they just drank two gallons of kool-aid. Here discipline is taken very seriously and you find the instructors to be very stern, they don't have time for you if you aren't doing your duty.
For example, we were doing an asana while lying on our backs (getting instructions as most of you know, isn't easy lying on the floor because you can't see anyone else to verify your understanding of the audible instructions). I had my right foot extended sideways so that my toes were almost touching my hands, which were outstretched as a T. Generally, at least in NH, if an instructor were to spot you doing it incorrectly or not complying with instruction, he or she would come over and whisper, cross the leg over and reach the right foot toward your left hand, smiling, watching, there you go, great. It would be really discreet. I didn't hear the crossover part and was lying there staring at the ceiling when a teacher walked over and said, No! I looked up like a deer in headlights, other arm, I paused. What are you doing? Cross the leg. I crossed. Good. I wouldn't t have been surprised if the guy down the street selling magazines (who I often see just sleeping on a bench next to his stand) was woken up by this encounter.
Anyway, back to the test, Mrs. Jiya called me. I got up and walked toward her. Usually when she calls on you to answer a question, even if you answer it correctly, she looks at you like you insulted her. I think that's what I liked about her best, she wasn't easily impressed. As I walked over in a glance I caught a brief smile, a mother's smile, unconditional something, she looked away as I approached, arm extended at length in my direction, test flapping. She had nothing to say to me, her silence said everything.
The course had come to an end, everything was wrapping up. Soon we would go down to the Madhavadasaji Hall to receive our certificates from Hansaji.
Part of the program for the event was to provide entertainment. A few of my classmates prepared a song with classical dance sequences, there were a few solo singers and I was asked to do some karate. I was introduced as a Karate expert, everyone clapped, I bowed, performed Sanchin (a form that is comparable in ways to a pranayamic exercise), the room was silent, I bowed again, everyone clapped and I sat back down. One more classmate rose and spoke about our collective experiences here and then Hansaji and our teachers were presented with small floral gifts.
My name was called, I approached a smiling Hansaji, she asked a question about my breathing in Sanchin, I answered, she responded, "Oh very scientific", then handed me the certificate. We took a photo of the class and parted ways.
The course was complete.