Tuesday 22nd September 2009
To appease both my conscience and my self-critic I stepped onto the yoga mat as soon as I got home from work today, a routine that is starting to work for me.
I emerged from deep yoga space two and a half hours later.
Practice was the Ashtanga sequence, but not the Ashtanga practice.
To explain: I did all the primary series poses in order (missing only Marichy D and Bhuja through to the Garbha Pindasana rolls), but I spent 8 good, slow breaths in all the other poses so it was a more internalised, thoughtful, connected practice, not an aerodynamic flight upon the breath.
One of the distinguishing features of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is the vinyasas between the poses. There's an intelligent reasoning behind this because each vinyasa neutralises the effect of the previous pose.
Take the forward bends and twists for example: after doing one of these poses (or any asymmetrical pose) on one side, rising into the Upward Dog back bend opens the front and both sides of the body evenly bringing the energy on the left and right sides of the body back into balance, then the perfectly neutral Downward Dog counters the Upward Dog back bend: the whole combination setting up a clean slate on which to enter the next pose.
But today, still low on energy from the flu and with a tender back, I had to forego all the vinyasas. Instead of connecting all the seated poses with a vinyasa jump back/jump through, I did a mini seated backbend, a kind of turbo charged Dandasana with fingertips propped on the floor behind me to press a rippling arch up into my thoracic spine. As I stretched up and looked up, the lumbar tension that grips and protects my lower back in the seated forward bends gave way with a sigh of relief.
I spent 5 minutes in Shoulderstand (60 breaths) and 5 minutes in Headstand (40 breaths).
Doing some elementary maths, that means I breathe much slower in Headstand - its an easier balance to hold, almost effortless once I’ve fine tuned the balance. Shoulderstand takes more effort, energy and focus to hold vertical without slacking off.
A typical day in my Monday to Friday routine:
6.30am: My morning starts (I do miss those 5.30am Ashtanga practices, but a full morning yoga practice doesn’t work for me right now)
Do a few stretches on the mat followed by a 5 minute Headstand - the few stretches can often grow into a 30-45 minute yoga practice
Walk to work, stopping off at the café for an espresso on the way (this is breakfast, by the way) and to drop off a batch of muffins.
9am – 5pm work
(Lunch is usually a big apple, with a handful of walnuts and fresh dates)
Do the half hour walk home from work.
6pm: Yoga practice (could be anywhere from half an hour to 2 hours)
7.30 - 8pm Dinner: Carrot juice with a shot of fresh beetroot and fresh orange in it
Big bowl of fresh salad stuff with sunflower sprouts and balsamic dressing – often with some fetta cheese and olives thrown in, and sometimes with a side serve of my favourite lentil salad or some German rye bread
Walk Buffy again
8.30 – 9ish: Bake muffins for the local café and the art school students.
10pm: Sit for half an hour – sit is a better description than meditate for what occurs on the cushion at this time of night
Climb into bed some time between 10-11pm with an interesting book to read until my eyes fuzz over, sometimes with a cup of weak tea and a sweet friande.
This is a typical kind of day in my working week, and it's like this maybe three out of the five days.
It's nice. It's quiet. It's solitary. I've dreamed of this kind of life for half of my adult, child rearing years.
Some evenings are different of course: I might get caught up at work meetings that go into the evening, or I have to work night shift until 7.30pm, or I might visit my son, cook his dinner and do his shopping, or visit my daughter on a Friday night etc...etc... but mostly I keep it simple and orderly.
Weekends are unpredicatable, each a new page in the daily journal of a nobody...