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Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Self Practice

Trust me, practising yoga on your own requires a lot of discipline and determination. A fortnight ago I'd asked my yoga teacher Lawrence to give me a class plan so I could keep up with my practice while he was away. He's now back and I've only just tried it out ... that's partly because my lingering hamstring problem (after more than a month) and partly because I found it hard to bring yourself onto the mat at home ... there really isn't a reason for that, it just IS! On a practical level, it's also hard to keep having to go back to the piece of paper for the next instruction...  now I realise how much I rely on verbal instructions in my practice.

Okay, the first instruction is: Sit yourself in a comfortale position in a quiet, self created sacred space. Simple enough, right? Not really. Finding a scared space inside my flat has actually been more tricky than I'd anticipated, especially I have two curious dogs who are constantly checking on my whereabout. I settle for my bedroom, which isn't ideal cos of its size but at least it's private and dogs-proof. Yesterday, I also had to look for a scented candle - and believe me, it does make a difference - and I bought one that mixes lavender, tea tree and geranium, which is very relaxing.

 Now, having set the scene for the practice - I cannot over emphasise the importance of this - I am ready to start. The first part of the practice is mostly Meditation and Visualisation. It is amazing once you sit yourself down, calmly, you become extremely aware of yourself and your surroundings: doors being shut, things being dropped, cars zooming past and, of course, your own deep breathing. I am asked to think of different colours and then to connect with them. Red fires up my breathing and, oddly enough, by the time I get to purple/violet, I actually feel light and happy. At some point I start to think about those flashing LED lights on most Japanese phones and, come to think of it, violet is a colour that I like best, which may explain my sense of giddiness. It's interesting how colours are linked to our emotions. After that I am asked to visualise a descend - walking down a flight staircase - at this point I grab my piece of instructions again ... after the descent, am I supposed to head back up again?!? The instruction doesn't say and I suddenly feel a little claustrophobic ... so I decide not to go down too deep.
It's after getting myself in a state of complete self awareness that I finally begin the asana practice. That includes the standard sequences (in a Hatha yoga class) and the whole session should last around an hour ... but because of my hamstring and  my flow becomes all over the place (keep forgetting which foot I should put forward next, left or right ...) mine ends slightly early.

The "recipe" certainly works - I was sweating by the end of the session - but next time, I think I will have to ask Lawrence to record his instructions.

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