Upping the anti

Well - our teacher has certainly upped the anti with our morning practice. I lost count of how many rounds of Surya Namaskara we did, but all I know is it certainly woke me up. We tend to be left in strong holding positions for what feel like hours at a time. I challenge people to stand in Utthita Hasta Padasana (foot hand extended) with feet about 4 feet apart, arms are extended to the sides and shoulder height, fingers splayed, pelvis tucked in and abs active. Just stand in this posture for 2 minutes and see how your arms and legs feel. They become like lead weights. But when you have to do this for the equivalent of about 15-20 minutes, through moving into other postures, believe me, it becomes a challenge. The sweat has gone from dripping down my back during these practices, to running down my back. Who would have thought such a simple combination of postures would work you so hard. This is why technique is so important.

Today we practiced Sirsasana (head stand). Never before have I been able to get myself near to doing this posture, correctly, but today I managed to bring my body into the correct alignment, with spine and shoulders uplifted, and bring both feet up to my chest. Although a strong posture, I felt sturdy - which I’ve never experienced. Woo hoo!

On a totally different note, whilst walking home this morning and begin dodged by scooters, trucks and rickshaws (you learn to keep walking here and they will work their way around you), I realised how my nervous system is working on overdrive at the moment. The constant tooting can be so shocking at times. Some days I manage to deal with it ok, but as I am already a hyper sensitive person, there are other days, like today, when you literally feel as though the body is going into shock every time another horn is tooted. I’m not sure this is something i could get use to on a permanent basis???

Inspired, expanded, supported

Whilst sitting here in my little apartment, at my desk/kitchen eating my 2 minute noodles, it’s only just occurred to me how comfortable I am beginning to get here. When I first arrived and walked into my room (after about 35 hours in transit) I had a near panic attack and spent the night crying to Owen on Skype about how uncomfortable i was. Now, walking into my room after a 13 hour day is such a relief. I’m thrilled to be here where I can finally rest. Just a thought…

In comparison to every other day since arriving, today has by far been my best. My balance is improving (and therefore my concentration), my strength and flexibility is improving and my overall confidence/acceptance in my own abilities is vastly improving. Kakasana was still difficult for me tonight however i am slowly slowly getting there. My focus and awareness is almost there. I did, however, sit more comfortably in Padmasana (lotus) for sometime. I find this too is a very difficult posture, however during anatomy class I challenged myself to keep working through it. The pain in my ankles and knees have also begun to lessen. My thighs were still on fire, but it seems my body is slowly beginning to open up which is exciting.

Throughout the day I have been jotting down notes in my study diary to remind me to write about here. When you’re sitting for hours on end, or holding a posture and feel like your about to die or collapse, you can sometimes find your mind wanders to other places to try and take the attention away from the current state. Not ideal, I know - but in some cases its a survival technique. I’m sure you know what i mean.

So, back to the thoughts and little things which caught my attention today. Well, for one, I think my teacher is a phenomenal, powerful man. He has this wonderful smile and honest humour which makes you feel like you are in safe hands. I feel I really need this right now being so far away from home and putting myself through yoga teacher training bootcamp. Having a friendly face is always nice when you’re alone in the world. But in saying that, he has this intense gaze and very serious approach when taking us through an asana class or technique class. This keeps everyone in absolute silence, not daring to make a sound. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post, but it amazes me how he can command such respect from everyone the moment he enters the room. I love it.

During our technique class, our teacher made a comment which I thought was really significant. As we are learning the most fundamental movements, for example how to hold your leg in the air (destroys me), he explained that in the real world, students are impatient. They want to be able to do the full asana at once, so they never learn how to properly move into and hold the asana. Because of this, people never truly experience the benefits of yoga practice - but still expect the benefits. They never reached the beautiful mountain peak, or if they do, they missed out on seeing all the beautiful animals and trees and plants on the way up as they rushed passed them. It may sound silly, but this is so true. Life has become too fast. People need to slow down and actually listen to their bodies. Feel, don’t force. Huge difference between the two. Another important point is the breath. People forget to breathe whilst doing their asanas, however breath is a sign of the presence of the mind. When we are struggling in a posture, it’s amazing how the body eases into the posture once you start noticing the breath. I really need to work on this as my mind can drift often, but it is certainly improving since being in this environment. Simple concepts, but powerful and important ones.

I attended an additional class today with Needa, my teachers assistant, who was offering some additional assistance for people who would like to improve their teaching skills. We talked about different ways of overcoming fears, language barriers and concerns re chanting to a class. This too comes down to awareness of self, being confident in your knowledge and be very aware of our class. Needa mentioned a really good point about not taking on board the emotions or anxieties of any of the class members. This, among many other tips, I certainly found helpful. To further improve confidence with being in front of a class, I will sit next to my teacher tomorrow morning (looking out at the rest of the students) during a technique class. This should be interesting. I guess it’s that whole idea of graded exposure. It’s wonderful our teacher is happy to offer us the opportunity to sit with him - that he is not so particular that he would not allow others to share that most important space. I’m excited!

Well, there are many more things I could harp on about here but it’s getting late and I need at least a couple of hours sleep before my nightmare 4am alarm goes off again. Today I feel quite drained - I think it’s all catching up on me, so sleep is a must.

And i shall do it all again tomorrow.

Namaste xx

Time to get serious

I emailed my yoga school today and asked if there is anything i can do to prepare for the thesis and presentation I will need to complete during my 2.5 month course. The more I prepare now, the more ‘real’ this trip is becoming.

Sadly, my partner and I have dealt with a number of problems relating to my family. All related to drugs and alcohol. As a result, Owen and i have decided we don’t need to stay in such a violent environment and have decided to move in with Owen’s parents temporarily. I will be here alone for the week with Owen’s parents whilst Owen is in Melbourne (starting his new job). To be honest, i am terribly uncomfortable about that (as I hate to impose on other people), but its a safer option than staying in my fathers house. My puppy, Tyrone, is also so much happier being here.

Owen’s parents, Kevin and Trish, live in the Adelaide hills. It’s so beautiful and quite up here. Surrounded by nature. What a magic way to prepare for my trip away. As guilty as I feel, it really is a wonderful decision which will be good for us all.

Trish has offered me one of the back rooms to practice in each day. There is also a huge outdoor decking area I can use. It couldn’t be more perfect.

Owen and I have been really upset lately about my trip which is looming up.  3 months is a long time to spend apart. Last time, it was 2 months before we saw each other again, which near killed us. Now its 3! I feel so grateful that we love each other the way we do. Tyrone is also my world and I feel terrible about leaving him - but i know I need to do it. Plus, he loves being with Kevin and Trish, so at least I know he is safe and happy while away.

Ok - off to bed now. Unfortunately I have work in the morning - but only 11 more days!!!!

The meaning of my yoga mat

I’ve spent the past week trying to pull together all the little things I’m going to need while i’m away. Shampoo, paw paw, moisturizer. I know how to travel light but these are the mini luxuries I will not negotiate on.

Mum has been really excited for my trip and has offered to get me a little going away present. I don’t have my mat yet, and it looks like Manduka will not be sponsoring me as I haven’t heard back, which is disappointing. I thought about asking mum to get my mat for me however i felt this was a gift I needed to buy for myself.

My mat represents so many things; a place of calm, a place of strength, a place to sit and truly explore my body, mind and soul, to have an awareness of self, to be present in the moment. This mat is also symbolic of the new life I am creating for myself which takes courage, commitment, determination and a will to succeed. So with all this meaning, I realised I need to select this mat for myself.

So instead, I have asked mum to get me a lovely new travel pursue which I need and will treasure. Its also my most used travel item so I thought it was a perfect idea. I was going to get this with Owen, as getting my pursue for the Europe trip last year was a really special memory (we were in Hahndorf at the time and found it on one of our relaxing outings) but this is something which I can let go and offer to someone else. New special memories with mum.

I’m a very sentimental person - maybe too sentimental  - but being sentimental creates a depth which helps me to connect with others, be appreciative of others and of experiences, and remember some of the most significant moments of my life.

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Last night i practiced in the park whilst Tyrone ran around. It was so relaxing practicing on the beautiful lush grass being surrounding by nature and life. I certainly need to do that more often.

On a side note - as I will have my birthday whilst I’m away, mum wants to make sure I have my birthday celebration before i leave so it looks like a little going away/birthday party will be planned.

Day 2 training - much better start!

I’ve decided to transform my morning yoga practice into one which is committed to learning the Sanskrit names for all the foundation asanas. Considering it’s a Monday and I knew getting out of bed meant being closer to going into work - I decided to sleep in a little while longer. Plus, I had a terrible night sleep. Up since 4am and then finally asleep again about 5 minutes before my alarm was due to go off.

The honest truth is, Owen’s 15 year old dog is not doing too well and sadly a decision no one ever wants to make may need to be made. So it’s been an emotional couple of days and night. Owen is a mess - understandably.

So getting out of bed this morning was a little challenging. Lack of sleep for various reasons coupled with the dreaded knowledge of going to work just doesn’t help.

When I finally got up, I decided to work through just one of the video links the yoga school sent through. By practicing the postures at the same time as trying to learn it’s name, I am surprisingly picking it up.

Of course the names of postures which are very common are easy (as you tend to hear them more often) - but regardless, I don’t seem to be doing too badly. I’ve worked out there are al ot of similarities between certain names and postures, and being synesthetic definitely helps as I just need to draw similarities together.

Owen has offered to help with my training also. He reads out the names and then later will test me on them. He is a great teacher. I might see if he is up for more training tonight.

xx

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