Happiness is… a silent retreat

I haven’t practiced yoga and meditation for very long in the grand scheme of things; both in the scheme of my years on the planet to-date and the scheme of comparative experience to others on the path, many of whom have been at it from a very young age. However, I count my blessings daily that not only have I been fortunate enough to encounter these teachings at all in this life, but that the opportunities to study with some incredible teachers have come my way, ensuring that I don’t spend years or even decades, digging down a blind alley in the misguided hope that it will bring me the ultimate cookies – deep inner peace.

Beautiful Dhamma Vihara

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Staring at swallows

In my job, I work for 12 days on, and then have two days off and I’ve started taking myself up to a friend’s house in the hills behind the village to treat myself to a couple of days of complete rest. Fasting; long, slow yoga practices that can take all afternoon if I feel like it, with a little nap-break in the middle, formsilver birch skyal meditations, or just sitting watching a bee cleaning itself for 20 minutes. Just giving myself permission to do nothing and seeing what unfolds. Sometimes I read for a bit, then lie and stare at the swallows and wonder when they’re going to migrate north. Continue reading “Staring at swallows”

Face your fears to feel free

I’m trying to live a life that feels free. I recognise that we are only really imprisoned by our fear and so to feel free I have to work on being fearless. So I have to work out what I’m afraid of and then systematically put myself in situations that allow me to face the fear.

I am afraid of small spaces with little oxygen underground, I’ve always said I’d never go pot-holing, and yet this week I crawled into the side of a mountain in Morocco and scrambled, squeezed, climbed and slid into the belly of the hill.fbb1783aa839f887d2669db57f15cc55 Continue reading “Face your fears to feel free”

Near-death experience

elemental-truthYesterday I had a little bit of near-death experience. It wasn’t that near, but near enough that I contemplated it for a fraction of a second. I’m in the French Alps and my friend and I went for a drive to the top of the mountain for a little walk and when we came back down the twisty mountain road a guy was racing up the other way, we met him on a bend and his car was side-slipping at great speed right towards us, I was in the firing line if his car had hit us and I was joyous, I wasn’t scared at all, I was ready. My mind said “Is this it? Hit by a mat-black pimped-up rally car on the side of my favourite mountain, OK cool.” I wasn’t even slightly bothered about the prospect of dying, just a bit exhilarated.

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Choosing the best yoga teacher training

To be honest, my first thought in regards to how to choose a yoga teacher training is actually more that it might choose you, because both of my YTT experiences were presented to me by the univeAdj jen jo PP3rse and I just said yes and found a way to make them happen. However, I appreciate that my previous self (the person I was
before I stopped having ambitions and stuff) was much more inclined to do research and plan and organise these things, than to just let them happen, so assuming you are still in planning mode…

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Last week I have been mostly studying with Rolf and
Jenni bonesMarci at yogabones in Goa. I say studying rather than practicing because it has been an education. Of course I had an idea of what to expect, plenty of people had told me that they will take your practice apart and put it back together the right way and this was exactly my observation of their style, and I have to say I was very impressed. Continue reading “Yogabones”

Why are there six series’ of Ashtanga yoga?

I found myself wondering why there are six series in the ashtanga system this morning as I lay in Savasana on the floor of the girls changing rooms at the KPJAYI shala. Although I have ceased to feel that I care if I ever add another asana into my practice as I’m so content with what I already have to work on, I used to have a craving for more and I know many others do see the more advanced series’ as something they are working towards achieving – as a personal (egoic) goal. Continue reading “Why are there six series’ of Ashtanga yoga?”

The greatest yoga practice of my life

Today it happened. The greatest yoga practice of my life to-date.

I had an incredible massage yesterday with a masseur who really understands an Ashtangi body and all the places that we get stiff and sore that hold us back on our practice, she worked my Psoas, all the glutes and possibly even the deep six. She tortured my thighs and calves, it was a little bit like giving birth (i imagine) I had to really breath through the “sensation”.

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Mysore magic

Coming to Mysore to practice at the home of Asthanga, to come to ‘the source’, was for me a little dream of “someday, maybe when I’m good enough” (whatever that means). Until I started actually living my life (about a year ago, I wrote about it here) and adopted the attitude of “never mind someday, how about this day?”

So here I am, in Mysore, studying with Sharath at KPJAYI. Not that easy to do for many people I’ll warrant, for financial, work, family or other commitments and constraints. I could have talked myself out of it forever, but I’m almost a week in to my month in Mysore and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity or loving this experience more. It’s an amazing place. Continue reading “Mysore magic”

Expanding my comfort zone

bubble Since I accelerated my Ashtanga yoga practice from two or three led classes a week to a daily self-practice, often in Mysore style settings with teachers adjusting me, I have suffered almost constant pain around my sit bones, regular shoulder pain and occasional lower back pain after particularly intense periods of practice (teacher trainings for example). Continue reading “Expanding my comfort zone”