Thursday 22nd October 2009
Yoga practice wasn’t a dance this morning – it was a slow moving steam train.
Renate and I were both lethargic for different reasons. Renate had a very physically demanding day yesterday, and my day had been overloaded with work challenges.
Recently I’ve been waking up intermittently at night having just dreamt about work – it’s invaded all my mental space again.
An overactive mind uses a lot of energy and the mental energy drain is very obvious during a yoga practice. The mind has to be retrained over and over to be present and not obsess about the past or the future. That is yoga practice.
So I worked hard at this kind of yoga practice this morning, watching the obsessive thoughts invading my mental space, observing the physical drain, and trying over and over to bring my mind back to what I was doing in the moment – asana.
My first battle to fight was to get to practice: resistance is strong. I’m as bright as a bubble at 5.15am but my motivation to do a 2 hour yoga practice has been eroded by nagging doubts that manifest as the big question “What’s it all for?”
I ask this about everything now, and that’s not bad.
For now I ignore the narrative and just get up, get ready and go.
I don’t question the benefit of yoga practice as much as the 6am start. It feels like a commitment I could do without, especially as the urge to simplify my life is forcing the issue.
Practice starts slowly. Knowing I have the option to stop and sit in meditation at any point is a healthy bribe.
After one hour, Renate opts for meditation. I fill out the entire two hours with a pot-pourri of poses that my body asks for: after the obligatory sequence of standing poses, I go to the wall for one long handstand, lead weight heavy, all the accumulated rajastic body energy draining downwards into my wrists and hands. My 48kg body suddenly weighs a ton.
Two seated forward bends, two supported backbends over a block and then I lifted my spine up and off the block into Urdhva Dhanurasana, twice. Upavista Konasana then a twisted forward bend over each extended leg. I came to centre then hung out for a while over the wide open space between my legs, trying to relax and allow my hips to open passively rather than actively engaging the leg muscles to lift me up, out and down to the floor. Passive got boring. I nearly fell asleep. Is this Yin Yoga? I tried the same passive approach in Baddha Konasana, an emotionally challenging pose now, only because a year ago I could extend forward and down and eventually rest my nose on the floor. Now, post injury, I can barely move past upright. So I sit slightly forward of upright, breath light and love into my lower back and hips, waiting, secretly hoping for a miracle opening. It doesn’t happen
Tired of being stuck upright I move on to a few core exercises, including laying on my back, legs raised to 90 degrees and curling my head and shoulders off the floor, working incrementally through the spine, moving up and back with the breath.
Shoulderstand, Halasana and Pindasana, Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana before Matsyasana, then a long Headstand and the finishing Padmasana poses.
Renate and I part. I change into my work clothes and wander out of the Gallery and down to the café for half an hour of journaling and an espresso shot.
Walking back to work I realise that the stress induced obsessive work thoughts must have subsided some time during practice. My mind is now calm, clear and receptive. Only a few stray yoga thoughts waft through my mental field like warm gentle, summer breezes.