26 Jan The magic of regular yoga: an update from India
I’m here in Goa for a yoga teacher intensive under the tutelage of the French Vinyasa yogin, Gerard Arnaud. His teaching is precise and physical and at the same time brings spaciousness and energy. I’ll share much more about the journey when I’m back in Australia but wanted to send you a few reflections on the magical fabulousness of daily yoga. I hope you’ll find them useful for your own practice.
As comes with the territory of being a yoga teacher, I practice some sort of yoga most days of the week, but two weeks in India dedicated to asana (postures) and meditation has been transformative. My body feels lighter, my mind clearer and everything stronger. And we are only halfway through.
The mornings at our retreat near Mandrem Beach bring three hours of quite physical Vinyasa yoga. There are several former dancers in the class who can do a lot with their bodies so we get to work on being upside down and bending all sorts of ways – this very much appeals to the circus girl in me, so what is different about testing your body in the circus versus testing it in yoga?
After five days of circus training I was exhausted. After five days of yoga practice I feel more energised. The practice is becoming easier, even as we work harder.
We end each evening with an hour and a half of meditation, relaxation and pranayama (breathing exercises to manage the flow of energy through the body) which also has an interesting effect on the following morning’s hard core yoga asana session.
My first adho mukha svanasana (downward dog) the next morning is already filled with all the lightness I created the previous day. Far fewer kinks to iron out in the body and much easier to practice from the right place.
Plus sleep is inevitably better and the mind feels more open. Tummy muscles are also stronger thanks to Kapalabhati (a type of Pranayama).
Even at my most devout yogi-nerdishness I will not be practicing yoga this much once I return home and I, alas, certainly won’t have a teacher with forty years of experience to guide me. So my mind goes now to how I can hold onto the wonderful space we have cultivated here once I make it back to the big city. (Also known as a big country town by those not from Perth).
Some questions and thoughts I’m holding about my practice that you might find useful to help you get the most out of the one or two classes you can fit in each week:
How do I start my day as if I had done yoga?
The practice shows us how we can be, but the practice of itself is not the point.
How do I finish my day as if it were after a long meditation?
Meditation allows us to see and understand something new. Meditation for its own sake is not revealing.
How do I bring lightness to my body, without five hours of yoga each day?
My body is the way I participate in the world. When I care for my body I show care for the world.