I’m not quite sure where to begin with today. So much has been achieved. So much knowledge has been gained. So many hurdles have been overcome. It’s truly been a great day - unbelievably challenging, but that’s what makes it great.
To try and maintain some sort of order in my writing I will break it down into topics. I’m exhausted after tonight’s session so this is a very necessary strategy.
Unfortunately I wasn’t selected to teach Surya Namaskara today, which was disappointing as I was so well prepared and this is quite a challenging series to walk through. Whilst watching another student, David, present SN instead, it occurred to me that teaching really isn’t a natural thing for many people. David, for example, has gorgeous technique but his ability to teach is a whole other story. Lacking structure, unclear demonstrations and explanations. It’s really challenging to stay engaged. As I have the gift of the gab (not always a good thing - I know) I am fortunate that I am quite comfortable talking to people. Of course I too am nervous presenting here as we have strict guidelines to follow, and a lot of information to retain and deliver, but I know when I present it, I present (hopefully) more naturally. Well, at least I try to. A big reason for that would be my experience through my career, but also the preparation I do before any class. I rehearse every day before class, which I recently learned is so important for any presentation. Maybe this is the step people are missing?
Watching and learning from my teacher, Bharath, everyday is truly wonderful. He is a very disciplined man, and expects we too share the same discipline, but the way he teaches is so engaging. He has a rare skill of being able to help people to understand complex ideas through very simple analogies. His passion for the practice of yoga is also so present in every word he says. He would make anyone want to learn this art form.
I have been jotting down statements he makes which I really resonate with - and I believe many others out there will also. One statement in particular which I really love is “feel, don’t force”. As teachers, he also stresses that we never ask our students to blindly apply a technique without feeling, noticing, breathing into it first. That students must “observe and apply”. These lessons will stay with me forever as this is so important to remember. Bharath explains, most people injure themselves as they are failing to notice what the body is actually telling them. Instead, people are more focused on moving into a posture to prove they can do it rather than move into it with conscious awareness. Each sequence is designed to be taught over 6 years, so you can imagine what damage can be done when teachers are trying to get their students to do advanced asanas within a few weeks.
What I noticed tonight whilst meditating (to the point where my leg was so numb it could have been amputated and I wouldn’t have felt a thing - with discipline we needed to remain still) was that I noticed everything in my body. I could feel the tiniest sensation in my little toe all the way up to the crown of my head. Internally, you noticed if there is any cramping or pain anywhere, if there is a sudden release of tension in the hips, for example. It’s through the noticing and the patience that we truly achieve the benefits of yoga. This is why I love the practice and I am so glad to have followed my heart to train here with Bharath. He truly is a wonderful teacher.
NOT ALL GLAMOROUS
Tonight’s class was probably our most intense, beginning with vinyasa. Within minutes of starting we all had the sweat dripping off our foreheads, legs and arms; people are groaning as they try to breath, hair is all over the place, and in some cases a couple of people ‘letting go’ if you know what I mean (certain asanas are actually designed to help in this very way. I however, intend on working on those at home… alone!) We are all covered in bruises (for me my hips, ankles, spine have the most), have scuffed elbows and knees - we’re all a mess! I guess this is part of the process right?
I can’t help but giggle about the misconceptions I know people have about what I’m up to here - thinking this is some glamorous holiday away. Fact is - it’s very much not. We are working our butts off and tend to leave class looking like we’ve run a marathon or three. Far from glamorous.
Like I said… not all glamorous!
COORDINATION, STRENGTH AND FLEXIBILITY
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I achieved Sirsasana today. Still ecstatic about that. Tonight I also managed to maneuver myself into all sorts of other contraptions which look utterly ridiculous but when achieved are amazing. Firstly - to give context as to why these asanas are such huge achievements for me - I have scoliosis in my back and have suffered chronic back pain for as long as I can remember. My flexibility is poor and the pain in my back has become something I just accept. I have no other choice. My back is also weak (or so I thought - I seem to be far stronger in backbends than many of the other students. I shocked myself!). It turns out, again with correct technique and patience, that anything is possible. I am now doing (not all gracefully I might add - that’s stage 2) the following asanas, among many others:
- Parsva Kakasana
- Dwi Pada Sirsasana
It’s crazy what can be achieved!!
examples pictures below
Tomorrow morning I will be sitting in on a Mysore Style class after our morning session. This is purely to observe and learn this new technique. Although this means no breakfast for me, I’m looking forward to seeing this.
So, enough from me. Remember to practice, to listen and to breathe. Goodnight.
Examples of the postures
Dwi Pada Sirsasana