Saturday, 21 December 2013

Water that is too pure has no fish...

For those of you who don't know, I'm back in Mysore. I need practice and at this point in my life, Mysore is the place I need to do it. I'm also doing another teacher training with Vijay, the group is really great, we're having lots of fun and of course we get to spend more time with Vijay, whom we all adore!

I've been listening to some Michael Stone this morning and there were some points he made in his dharma talk which resonated with me. I've spoken before about the stories we tell ourselves in our practice  and also in our daily lives, where we say we can't do something and use this and that reason not to do something...whether it be a posture, a chore at home, leaving your job, moving house, etc etc... We tend  to speak before we think, but if we spend time analysing these stories or our reasons, then they generally pail into insignificance and what we are left with is no reason. 

So my practice this time around is at 5:15am which seems to be a lovely time to practice. I go through my sequence hardly thinking, sometimes afterwards I even get home and can't remember getting up, going to the shala and doing it! The mind seems to be in the perfect state of ease at this hours. Practicing at 7:30 I had far more time for the mind to wake up fully and activate the sense organs. This is when the stories come... thinking about my practice, the postures I found hard, did I have enough energy today, when will I ever be able to jump through without touching the floor etc. These were then with me throughout my practice and what a surprise, I held onto them and had a shit practice. Stop the desire to create an over-arching viewpoint as you will then fit your day into this viewpoint. 

Little parts of these viewpoints begin to breakdown through meditation; through concentration on them and analysis of them. 

Someone once told me that I saw everything in black and white and I needed to find the 'grey areas'. It's always been a challenge for me! Sometimes I have it and sometimes I don't and it's a constant battle, (actually I am not going to call it a battle as I am trying to practice ahimsa and to battle with oneself is bad and acceptance of what is is better)! If you are too pure you become to aware of yourself and eveything's then about 'you'. You can become too obsessed with your diet and become too obsessed with yourself. That way of perceiving actually affects the what the food then does inside the body. The same goes for your practice. Then you spend the whole day thinking about self. The same goes for your practice. Be careful about ideas of purity. 

Postures do not have an end point, in a linear, materialistic kind of way. The body ages and so the practice is always going to change. The practice does not deepen through adding on more and more postures. Take what you know already and go deeper in them. Tune in to what you know already.

It's sometimes difficult not to have a dualistic viewpoint of practice and life. Like yoga is the stuff you do on the mat, or meditation is something you do when you sit. Do the practice right in the heart of your work. I love this way of thinking and it is making me excited about getting back to a 'normal' life and 'regular' job!! (This may or may not happen and I completely accept that!) Do not have a dualistic view, or separate of the practice and your daily life. You do not need to look outside, you already have everything you need!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Healing Bali

It's taken me until I'm sat the airport with ticket in hand to realise that I have fallen in love.

Remove all the westerners/western influence and Bali, the 'Island of the Gods' is a place of profound healing and spirituality. The welcome from the locals of Bali and the small island of Lembongan I have not found anywhere else in the world. Without asking anything of you, their 'hello!'s are a welcome change to the glares of India. Unfortunately I spent too long in the touristy village of Ubud, should've trusted my gut instincts and left for the coast as soon as the conference was over. But nevermind.

I spent a few days in Canggu at the coast after I dragged by soaking wet self out of the monsoons of Ubud. I found a travelling ashtanga teacher, Nick Evans, from Cardiff of all places and spent a few mornings practicing with him. Ah, what I great teacher and he reminded me so much of my teachers back home which felt nice and comforting at a time when I felt a little lost. Like Manu back home, Nick is very much the 'you must try every posture' kind of teacher, reminding me of how easy it is to fall into the bad habits - using posture variations well beyond when you should be - leaving out postures because this or that was/is injured - leaving out postures cos you just don't like them! So I've started the lotus positions again as the knees appear miraculously to have healed without me noticing! (Nick says Bali has the ability to heal the body and his practice is so great there) and I'm doing all the postures in primary again, including setu bandhasana. Nick says not to avoid the postures you don't like to do because 'that's where the yoga is. Baby steps - there's no rush, just a couple of breaths in the posture then build from there day by day'. 'Nuff said. Wise words. 

So I'm taking that advice and the teachings of the Conference and Therese and I'm implementing them in my practice back in Mysore. I arrived early morning on Thursday after a hair-raising taxi ride from Bangalore, where I was thrown off the back seat numerous times whilst trying to sleep, so now I'm covered in bruises! It was just 4:15am when I reached Mysore so got the taxi driver to drop me outside the shala where I waited until class at 5:15. Yep...5:15 is my new start time! I'm actually loving the earlier class, I can't put my finger on why, but it feels better getting up that bit earlier to practice. Maybe there's something in practicing before dawn after all. Bali has definitely done something to me. I'm a lot less stiff now, my hips feel more open and my knee pain has gone. I've even taken to practicing on just my travel mat which is dead thin, gone is the need for extra padding! I feel more aligned inside and out and my focus is a lot more concentrated. Given the new found concentration and flexibility I am actually looking forward to getting back on second series tomorrow to try to conquer eka pada sirsasana. :)