Two steps forward and one step back is still progress I remind myself.
I made two giant steps forward today - suddenly I have collateral.
Giant Step Number One was getting out of bed at 5.55am
Giant Step Number Two was getting on the mat and doing an honest practice for an hour and a half.
These weren't baby steps, these were giant steps that have suddenly blitzed all those years of resistance to early morning yoga practice.
I woke up 10 minutes before the alarm went off (set for 5.45am) and had time to check into my mind state. Despite falling asleep some time after 11pm I felt wide awake and energised. This moment is always the coalface, the moment where I experience the deep groove of habit, where I look the challenge straight in the eye before turning away and going back to sleep every morning.
But not today.
I wanted to get up! This was a full on rebellion against the norm.
This was exciting.
To be honest, if I'd waited until that alarm went off, I would have surely turned it off and gone back to sleep. The habit is that strongly ingrained.
But instead I got up before that alarm went off and jumped straight into a hot shower.
From shower to mat, it's now 6am.
Sun salutes amid bird chatter and a panoramic rainbow sunrise.
Good morning to you all, I'm so happy to be here.
And so to Practice
Morning stiffness is natural, the body's been immobile for over 6 hours.
I start with a few stretches to gently open up mortified muscles and joints, then hold a series of lunges to connect down into the earth and enliven my legs.
Slow, steady beginnings.
Yoga isn't about obtaining a flexible body, it's a practice to reveal where our mind is stuck; it's an opportunity to systematically investigate and release what is holding us back.
Which is why I am so intent on establishing an early morning practice - I'm simply tired of being a slave to a limited view of myself.
The sun salutes are slow, intense, precise and invigorating, the movements mysteriously invoking the sun to rise up and bestow light upon the land.
Standing poses are the same: slow, intense, precise and invigorating, the energy of my intention is rising, unwavering.
I reach for my big toe in Trikonasana, not quite getting there today, and it just doesn't matter. The pose is strong from the base, the feet, the legs, the bandhas, the expansive twist that opens my heart, the extension upwards into infinity...
Having broken the barrier to getting up early today, the next barrier to overcome will be Buffy. She wants to go walkies and sits at the door yapping. I continue the standing poses and try to ignore her. Indignantly she trots back into the room and begins throwing herself at me with eskimo rolls. She's desperate seeking love and attention, a tummy rub at the very least.
I bind in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana and bend forward gracefully, my free hand now stroking a Buffy belly for 5 ujiya breaths. For four variations of Prasaritta Padottanasana my face is planted in a mass of fur.
Eventually she wanders off to sulk.
After the standing poses I digress - 10 breaths in Handstand against the wall, 2 forward bends (Janu Sirsasana and Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana), backbends (Salabhasana, Dhanurasana, Ustrasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana), Paschimottanasana, then most of the finishing poses with 10 breaths in Shoulderstand and Headstand and 5 breaths in all the others.
Before Baddha Padmasana I often do Padmasana with a twist to each side, one hand grabbing the opposite foot, the other hand levering against the knee. I lift up, spiral from the base to the top of my spine and stretch open lung tissues, heart energy, shoulder tension, squeezing, expanding, flowing, enlivening...
Padmasana is a powerfully configured physical base upon which the body can be transformed. I've often observed an alchemical process happening in Urdhva Padmasana, today I observe it in the seated Padmasana twist. I don't fully understand the energetics that are activated while in Padmasana, or how this particular leg/hip/pelvis position creates such a magical force flow upwards, but I do know it has a deeply powerful rippling effect throughout every level of my being.
My practice ends at 7.30am.
Out Into the Day
Buffy gets her walk. It's a perfect spring morning, warm and breezy.
New life is budding everywhere.
Hope fills the air.
I'm excited to be alive today.
I walk along my street, grateful that I have another day to feel the breeze on my skin and the love in my heart.
The working day is about to begin.
Can I get up again tomorrow morning and accelerate today's progress?
Imagine taking two steps forward every day..and never going backwards...