Elegant and intense: that was tonight's yoga practice.
Funny how we try to find words to describe the nuances and flavours of yoga practice: heavy, light, energetic, malleable, intense, laboured, flowing, distracted, painful, weak, superficial, intelligent, emotional, deep, connected etc...etc...
Each practice is so different - even the start, the middle and the end of practice can change like a sunny-rainy spring afternoon.
I make no excuses for summing up a practice in two or three concise words. The simple act of reflecting on the practice as a whole, brings it forward into my conscious awareness. By acknowledging and naming those differences I'm better able to understand the changing influences that impact on my body and mind, bringing greater awareness to the present moment and the internal subtle landscapes that I inhabit.
There have been times in the past when I'd finish a yoga practice, rise from Savasana and wander straight into the kitchen to make dinner without giving it a thought. Or go from the yoga class to the change room, have a conversation with another student or teacher while dressing, and forget about the last hour and a half.
Even during the practice I took the time to check in after each pose, observing the effect on my mind and my body, the flow of energy through my system, areas of lightness, or heat, or stimulation, areas that felt neglected after a pose that screamed out for a counter pose or an acupressure knuckle.
Every pose was strong, balanced, intense and smooth. Smooth entry, smooth exit, elegance and simplicity. A slow dance uniting the breath and the body.
Tonight's sequence came from Mr Iyengar's Light On Yoga course.
Week 36 - 40:
Headstand cycle - total 10 minutes (I left out the Padmasana poses as my hips weren't quite warmed up or flexi enough for these)
Full Shoulderstand cycle - total 16 minutes
Jatara and Supta Padangusthasana
Trikonasana and PV Trikonasana
Parsvakonasana and PV Parsvakonasana
Virabhadrasana 1 and 3 (after 3 years my internal muscles can at last hold support Virabhadrasana 3 again)
Ardha Chandrasana which was strong, balanced and expansive
Padangusthasana, Pada Hastasana and Uttanasana - I do all these now with my thick mat double-folded underneath my left foot as this leg is shorter than the right. An extra half inch under this foot allows the pelvis to align correctly and reduces further damage to the worn facet joints in my lumbar spine.
UHP and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana
Vatayanasana - which I did incorrectly because I'd forgotten what it looked like (correct pose pictured above)
Janu Sirasana and PV Janu Sirsasana
Ardha Baddha, Krounchasana, Marichy A
Paschimottanasana and Urdhva Paschimottanasana
Baddha Padmasana and Yoga Mudrasana
That was it for tonight, which was only half the sequence. I'd been practising for 2 hours and it was getting late.
Rising from Savasana my body was itching for a backbend, or just something to compress my upper back and shoulderblades. The pose with the block end pressing into the inner shoulderblades did it - the acupressure points here needed urgent attention. I can't describe the relief this pose gave me - like finally scratching an itch.
Again I thank all my past yoga and meditation teachers, and their teachers as well.
I am eternally grateful for the sacred knowledge that has been handed down to me, that now allows me to intuitively navigate my own path into a deeper connection with the Mystery.