2 July 2012

Solo Retreat - Day 2

Saturday 30th June 2012

It's still blustery today, with occasional downpours.

Morning espresso, dark, smooth and milky, decadently sensual out here on the tip of the peninsula. Meditation can wait.

I read, write, then venture out for a courageous walk along the windy beach. There's only a metre of beach to walk on, I'm sandwiched between toe licking waves and sharply rising scrubby sand dunes. Nothing much on the stretch today, lots of cuttlefish, no shells. I photograph a strangely shaped feature rising seamlessly out of the sand like a dinosaur, and pick up a large feather, 50 cm long, possibly from a pelican, to take home for my 8 year old granddaughter. She'll surely lock her bedroom door, fill it with ink and try her hand at calligraphy.

My face sparkles with wind swept mist. A fast travelling dark raincloud to the north has just missed me, but the wind has stolen its edges and brought me the leftovers.

Sinking through deep wet sand, my walking is comical, and my feet are in danger of being left behind, buried at the bottom of each footprint; climbing up and over the wet sand dunes into a headwind feels no different to climbing a mountain. This is my workout for the day.


Back in the tent, I'm surprised to be sweating; I peel off two layers and settle in for a long asana practice before lunch.

I do all the standing poses with a couple of modifications to accommodate the low canopy. My feet and legs feel remarkably strong and clear, powerful conduits that connect me to the earth.

Each pose takes me deeper into my subtle senses; the clarity with which I can 'see' inside my body is astounding me. Focussing on the prana moving up and down the central spinal channell brings each pose into perfect alignment without the need for external directions - it happens organically and naturally. It's most evident in the asymmetrical forward bending poses, especially Parivritta Trikonasana, Parsvottanasana, Ardha Baddha Padma Padottanasana: If you want to try it, pause halfway down as you enter one of these poses, engage mula bandha and focus on the prana moving up and down the spine for a few breaths (inhale to draw prana up from mula bandha, exhale to send it back down again) and notice how both sides of the body start to automatically line up around the central core axis. It's a beautiful revelation to discover alignment happening from the inside out.

Unable to stand fully upright in the centre of the tent, I can only do Utthita Hasta Padnagusthasana A with the front forward bend; continuing on to an upright UHP B is impossible, I must drop my head into Jalandhara Banda (chin lock), which is an odd variation to this pose, and not nearly as fulfilling as the lovely blossoming open feeling that comes with the chin and chest lifted and heart wide open.

I find a more successful modification ing Utkatasana and Virabhadrasana A: I do these poses with hands holding elbows above the head. This arm position is less strenuous than the fully extended arms above the head position, so it allowed me to stay longer in the poses, focus more fully on my lower body position, while also allowing for a greater shoulder opening (the elbows are easier to pull back in this position than in the fully extended position, giving more shoulder opening). Probably a good arm position for beginners.

Seated poses are deep, long and internal and follow part of the Ashtanga Primary sequence:



Ardha Paddha Padma Paschimottanasana

Triang Mukha whatever-its-called

A very long - 20 slow breaths on each side - Janu Sirsasana, that reminded me of the long poses my first 'real' yoga teacher used to hold me in, the kind that transported you to another dimension and changed you irrevocably in a way you couldn't articulate

Janu Sirsasana B done with an open twist

Janu Sirsasana C, held way past the comfortable edge, very deep experience

Marichy A, B and C

Navasana plus some additional core strengthening moves

Baddha Konasana

Upavista Konasana

Urdhva Paschimottanasana, a balance where I love to just stay and stay, increasing the depth every second, connecting the core mula bandha lock with a lifting of the heart and corresponding minute adjustments to draw the legs in breath by breath, a divinely delicate balancing act.

Bhujangasana, Salabhasana, Dhanurasana...

Then Urdhva Dhanurasana, twice, gently ripping open tissues and nerves that need to be liberated.

Alternate knee to chest squeezes after Urdhva Dh, repeating each side a couple of times to deepen the position, then again on each side, this time lifting my head and shoulders up and pressing my lower back into the floor to fully reengage my stretched flaccid front body.

Shoulderstand, Halasana, Karna Pindasana, Padmasana in Sarvangasana, Pindasana, Matsyasana, Uttana Padasana.

No Headstand - I know from trying it on previous tent retreats that my feet push the tent canopy up too much, so just a few minutes in Baddha Padmasana suffices today, then into bed and under the blankets for Savasana.

Camp lunch is my favourite greek salad, prepared with sunflower sprouts, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, capsicum, avocado, black olives, a small chunk of fetta cheese and for the finale: I tip over a delicious concoction of cooked green beans soaked in balsamic dressing.

Not a completely raw salad but insanely delicious, nutritious, gourmet camp food.

Eating lunch I realise how lucky I am to have the freedom to be here, in a tent, doing this. It is pure joy. I bow down in humble and unabashed deep gratitude for this lifetime, for all that I have in my life, and for all that I have been given in the past that has led me to this moment....here in a tent, under a tree, on a wildly beautiful, stormy day...


Early afternoon and the surfers arrive, two carloads. They pitch tents in the camp area next to me, undeterred by the wind and rain.

I have to share the camping ground, the solitude, and graciously relinquish my attachment to the silence.

They drive off looking for surf in the mid afternoon and I greedily make use of the quiet couple of hours to sit in undisturbed meditation before they return.

It's Saturday night, the guys are in full swing, and with no chance for peaceful meditation out here in the supposed wilderness, I bury deeper into the blankets and turn into an invisible fly on the wall of a wild drunken let-loose boys party. Somewhere behind the black stormy clouds, the moon is wide awake with me tonight....

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