Chanting, Pranayama, Vinyasa and Kriyas - It's great to be back!

Yes, my alarm clocks (I have two set) and I were not friends again this morning as they exploded at 4.00am, but I can truthfully say these early mornings are so very worth it. This morning was our first class back and let’s just say it’s been a combination of joy, exhaustion, relief, calm, intrigue, doubting, not doubting… The list could on.

Class began a little differently than normal. All nine of us sat close to the front, in our perfect lines, and began by chanting unfamiliar chants with Bharath. Let’s just say we are not exactly creating music to the ears, but it’s always fun to learn these new chants (in Sanskrit of course). We then began our Vinyasa A and B practice. This is very new to me. You see a lot of teachers teaching Vinyasa Flow. Well, this is what I am now learning. What an incredible practice. We dabbled in it during our afternoon sessions last month, but I didn’t quite understand it, or like it for that matter. Now working through the technique more slowly and with all concentration, I think this is a practice I could really enjoy - and possibly teach also.

Not only is the temperature in Mysore heating up, meaning the Shala is heating up (all windows closed and no fans / air con), but the practice is intensifying. As we are now moving into advanced practice, we are to hold far stronger postures than we did in the first half of the course. This morning I watched sweat drip off my wrists and nose onto my mat, my hands were slipping from my ankles and my clothes were glued to my body. And it’s only going to get stronger (and hotter I might add!). Bharath moved us into postures and made us hold them until everything was shaking, near collapsing. This is when the will kicks in. I work incredibly hard to maintain focus on my breath and repeat over and over and over and over in my mind, “you can do this Jessica. Just a few more moments. Breathe. You can do this. Do not give up.” I’m not kidding - I literally repeat this to myself, like a mantra, and it gives me to strength to stay there. Bhujangasana B was an example where I needed to do this. Cobra but with your hands resting behind your head. My head has never felt so heavy in all my life!

After practice, we then moved onto Pranayama (my favourite!!). As I can sit for far longer periods now without pain in my knees and hips, Pranayama is becoming a more enjoyable practice. But today, we have begun introducing Kriyas - Agnisara Kriya to be specific. Take a look at this clip to see what this is:

With shirtless men around me and us ladies raising our tops up so our bellies are exposed, we are all hunched over working to push our bellies in and out. All sorts of sounds were being made in the room as each of us were trying to practice this. Quick breaths, grunts, forceful exhalations of air. Everyone is working with their own body to try and get the technique / rhythm of this practice down. Good fun but certainly a challenge for me from a confidence point of view. My stomach is my most disliked part of my body. I don’t have a lovely flat belly like most women. So exposing it was a challenge. But then I went back to remembering that yoga is not about what your body looks like, its about how your body feels. This is what’s important. So with this in mind, I too flashed my belly and did funny looking belly rolls with the rest of the class! Even with Bharath’s nose within a few centimeters of my navel (making sure im doing it right), I knew it was all ok. It was safe and i had nothing to be self conscious about.

Thank you yoga for teaching me this.

Namaste xx