30 August 2012

A Caffeinated Practice

A late start at work meant I could get in a practice this morning.  Strong coffee helped a lot - I did notice the racey, runaway thoughts but it was a small price to pay for the raw energy that got me through an entire Ashtanga Primary practice today.

I didn’t skip any poses, but flowed strongly though the entire sequence with a gorgeous ocean sounding breath. For the poses that are dangerous to my unstable lumbar joints (Bhuja, Kurmasana and Supt K) I either entered ‘phase 1’ of the pose and stayed there working at my edge, or I did a modified version of the pose.

The sadness of the last couple of days was still inside of me but by the afternoon the grey veil had lifted a little.  I am stunned at how grief rises up so forcefully and unexpectedly and sabotages my best intentions.  It's been a year and a half now...

Tomorrow morning I head off into the bush for another 3 day solo camping retreat. 
Spring officially starts on 1st September and another chilly winter is behind us.

Full moon tomorrow night - it will be magical out on the sand dunes.

28 August 2012


The night is lukewarm and I am walking the half-lit streets, bathing in the moon's beauty. 
Sadness begins to descend. 
I am in that tender space, close to the pain, feeling the loss, the aloneness, knowing that love won't come again in this lifetime.

Mark walks with me, he is in me, and I shimmer with the recognition of a dimension beyond what I can see or understand.

My mind is clouded and he can't quite reach me. I try to stay with him but the sadness weighs upon me. I feel it pulling down the corners of my eyes, the corners of my mouth, my shoulders.

The sparkle of youth has drained away leaving me in the shadows, with only his memory.

Buffy and I walk. She is getting older and slower, I guess I am too. She's a loving sweet little companion, 10 years old now. I dread the day when I lose her too.

We stop at a tree. Gazing up through the pattern of silhouetted branches and petal blossoms I am entranced by the silver moon again. I remember nights walking with Mark out in the hills near his cottage when the bushland was lit by only the full moon. My body fills with a shivery emotion, my eyes blur with tears.

Deep, calm breath...and just keep walking...

Your human heart contains the secret.

25 August 2012

Saturday morning practice

Pindasana in Sarvangasana
During a normal week, Saturday morning is the only chance I get to do a yoga practice without a time constraint, so I make the most of it. 
Here are notes from today's 2 hour session...

Part 1: 
I start my practice this morning not too early, but still Way-Before-Breakfast, with Lino's Primary DVD. My body is neither stiff nor flexible, yet it is strangely restricted in a way that I can't identify.

Lino's sun salutes are slow, meditative and strong. I follow along, mind somewhere else, and use the 5 breaths in Dog Pose to funnel the scattered mind energy into mula bandha and breath.

By the end of the standing poses, I feel stronger, clearer, but a little annoyed, not quite sure why. Underlying stress. I stop the DVD. Suddenly the droning count is gone, the room is silent. 
That was it, I needed silence today.
I continue on with practice...

Part 2: 
Seated poses, I stay longer than 5 breaths in some of them as the blanket of quietness descends and the practice begins to change. I let go of the need to follow the 'Ashtanga' rules and follow instead the subtle whisper of my own experience, the inner teacher: Paschimottanasana, Ardha Baddha Padma, Triang, the 3 Janus, the 3 Marichys - I do them all quietly, steadily, with a half vinyasa between each side, not just visiting each one, but entering each one...entering the inner chamber and looking around.

Coming up from each pose, I press down into my hands and lift up, intently practicing the straight leg Dandasana lift (Step 1 of a jump back), then bending knees and crossing ankles, I engage my core and do my best to draw my legs under, keeping my feet off the ground for at least a second or two while leaning forward. It's hard, its awkward, but every little bit of headway here helps to rebuild the core muscles and the mind. Entry and exit into and out of each seated pose becomes slower and slower, each one more considered and deliberate than the last.

This practice may have started as a 'move with the breath' Ashtanga practice, but it is now a research practice. Instead of being repetitive, it has become deeply responsive.

The intensity of engagement increases with each seated pose until I feel burn out set in at Marichy C. Mentally drained now - I just want to close my eyes and lay down.

So I do.

It could have been Savasana and the end of practice, but no...after half a minute, guilt got me up and going again.

And besides, I needed backbends.

Part 3: 
Salabhasana, Dhanurasana, Bhujangasana, Ustrasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana. 
The backbends wake me up and I move into the full finishing sequence, the kind that is rich and full in flavour. 20 breaths in Shoulderstand, then I marinate in Halasana and Karna Pindasana. In Pindasana in Sarvangasana  I manage to finally wrap my arms around my bound Lotus legs and clasp hands - this had been lost to me for over 3 years; getting it back today was the treat of the year.  I hold and deepen into the embryonic curl, feeling the unyielding scar tissue around my lumbar spine resisting the stretch. I breathe space into it and watch it open up.  I'm fascinated by the process.  The difficulty comes when reversing out of the closed curved position and into the open counter pose Matsyasana.  It takes some patience to get there.
30 breaths in Headstand and all the final Padmasana poses including Uth Pluthi.

Laying blissfully in Savasana I observe the energy 'pops'  just behind the bridge of my nose that signal nadi pathways unblocking. They're cute little sounds - the energetic openings are a sweet reward for this morning's perseverance: 2 hours of yoga practice on a Saturday morning. 

24 August 2012

Yigi Yigi

Didgeridoo is the spirit music of Australia, and the only music I listen to these days.  How did the red desert, the goannas, the river red gums, the black cockatoos get into my blood?

Day 2 - Saturday with Lino

Picking up where I left off, here is the post for Day 2 that followed on from Day 1:

Reverent is the word I'd use to describe my practice this morning.

Moving through primary series with Lino Miele's DVD this morning, I was transported back in time to 6am at the Ashtanga shala - the sun is about to rise, the room is hot and filled with yogis intent on their practice, faint wafts of incense float above the sweat, tribal music pumps through us, occasional soft voices chant the starting or finishing mantras, fierce Ujjiya breathing fills the air, people come and go. The room is infused with spirit, prana and devotion, and a focussed intensity.

Here I am in my large room, moving elegantly and rhythmically through sun salutes and vinyasas, alone...but not alone.

Between poses, the full vinyasas are a sacred dance, returning me to samasthiti, the sacred still point upon which the practice is built. The vinyasas encapsulate each pose with a beginning and end. Even the finishing inverted poses have a full vinyasa between them - hold shoulderstand for 5 breaths, come down, vinyasa up to samasthiti, then vinyasa through up dog, down dog, jump through, lay back to halasana, 5 breaths then roll out, jump back to chaturanga, updog, down dog, jump forward and up vinyasa up to samasthiti again etc... etc. This was the first time I'd done the full practice along with Lino and the full vinyasas between the finishing poses and back bends startled me (I had only watched a few earlier sections before deciding to take the plunge with this DVD practice).

I followed along through the practice with Lino, drishti on Him for now, adjusting some of my moves to mimic the simplicity of his style, glad to be following a Master. In time, as I become more familiar with the nuances of these moves, I won't need to watch, just listen, follow the count, and focus internally. But for now, I'm relearning the practice, Lino style.

It took one hour and forty five minutes, plus a well earned savasana after that.

Saturday afternoon was a mixture of meditation, gardening (planting more kale and spinach for the green smoothies) and walking Buffy.

Evening practice was just a few supported restorative backbends.