Saturday 14 November 2009
It has now been three weeks since I officially quit morning Ashtanga yoga practices with Renate.
This is not a minor decision - we’ve been supporting each other as morning yoga buddies for 7 years now. After 2 months away in France and India she came back to find her rock solid yoga buddy had grown away from morning yoga (though I think she knew it was coming).
We did our 6am Tuesday and Thursday practice for 2 weeks after she got back, until I finally acknowledged the truth to myself that a shared morning yoga practice feels like a shoe that doesn't fit any more.
Being true to that, I’ve also turned down Kosta’s invitations to practice with him on Saturday mornings again.
Which leaves me blissfully all alone to do my own practices, in my own space, in my own time.
There’s a beautiful elegance in this yoga solitude. I am free of all yoga commitments and constraints now, not practising with friends, not going to classes, not being tied to one particular sequence or style - I have discovered a new freedom in which to enjoy my practice in private. Finally all those years of teaching and practising yoga have come to fruition in this beautiful ending. Strange to feel like I’ve jumped off a cliff and am now soaring with the warm currents of life.
The pre-summer heatwave here has rekindled fond memories of mid-summer yoga workshops with Glenn Ceresoli (I must have done about 5 workshops with Glenn over the years), consecutive days of early morning and evening sessions in the big breezy Iyengar studio: slow yoga, long holds, supported opening poses, deep internal focus, lots of inversions, the deliciously warm open bodies, the whir of ceiling fans cooling our skin, the release of my body and mind into Glenn’s voice and hands.
Very different to Ashtanga.
Last week I printed out some of the notes I took from Glenn's workshops (the blog came in very handy) – my 2005 notes are here and the 2007 notes are here.
So I've been doing a similar yoga practice: short morning sessions with some sun salutes, standing poses, core work and inversions. After walking home from work, I’ve been going straight to my mat for some supported, long, slow, deep, cooling yoga, supta this, supta that, lots of inversions, handstand, Pincha Mayurasana, backbends over chairs, Supta Padangusthasana and Bharadvajasana to the wall, long shoulderstands with every variation I know.
My back has loved the Ardha Halasana variation (left) where you press the feet into the wall, lift up through the spine and hold the pose with legs parallel to the floor. It's a good variation for people with short hamstrings as the feet don't go all the way to the floor, but I do it to work the deep abdominals that support my spine. Instead of letting the lower back round you have to lift up out of the lumbar to straighten the lower back while pressing the feet firmly into the wall, legs rotating inwards, press the hands into the back - which is NOT being done properly by the girls in the picture by the way - so the upper spine and breastbone come towards the chin (Jalandhara Bandha) and hold the pose for 3-5 minutes.
Half of my bedroom looks like a messy Iyengar studio: 3 mats, 5 blankets, 2 purple blocks, straps, a folded blanket on top of a chair. In the corner another yoga blanket is folded beneath my meditation cushions and covered with more blankets that are not needed in this heat.
For now I’m blissfully happy playing alone here in my yoga sandpit.