Thursday, 16 April 2015

Into the blue

Al fresco handstand  (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
At the Tuesday class this week, we talked briefly about practising yoga on the beach. I personally find it tricky...sand drops off your feet and into your eyes during shoulder stand, people walk past, kicking sand into your eyes during seated poses or backbends. Trying to level sand sufficiently to perform a balanced headstand takes ages! Children try to join in & adults want to talk to you. Which is lovely, but in the end I have always given up on the yoga itself. All-in-all, personally, I find the practical challenges overwhelm the yoga itself.

However, that doesn't mean I rule out yoga al fresco entirely.

Yesterday was so beautiful: blue skies, busy bees, gentle breeze. Perfection. Too perfect to do a 2-hour yoga practise indoors, so I found myself rolling out my mat on the patio.

I had a wall of Leylandii ('trees' - for non-gardener folk ;-) in front of me and the house behind me.

Initially I was distracted by the life buzzing, crawling and flying around (and on) me. The wall of green in front really helped me to 'withdraw' from the external references and, by the time I was in Ardha Chandrasana, I was focussed on the yoga and able to find that blissful 'meditation in movement'.

'Meditation in movement' is when you are utterly absorbed by the minutia of the pose. Your mind no longer wanders or flits about. It is like a calm, steady stream of quiet concentration - without really being aware you are concentrating.

It is delving deep into a pose and examining your balance, stability, alignment, extension, expansion, energy and directionality. It is making minute adjustments and being aware of how these adjustments are like dropping a pebble into a still lake. You watch the ripples and try to be mindful of the impact on the rest of the pose. For me, 'meditation in movement' is when you are fully present, aware and pin-sharp.

Turning my gaze skyward in Utthita Parsvakonasana, I am initially in awe of the vast expanse of pure blue, moments later 'I am' the pose and it is as if nothing else exists.

'Coming to', after a peaceful savasana with a cool eye pillow draped over my eyes, I feel refreshed, positive, calm, together and so alive.

The word 'yoga' means "to join". In philosophical terms, it refers to the union of the individual self, with the universal self. Prior to that, it is the union of the body with the mind, and the mind with the self.

It is this joining, or integration, of the body, the senses, the mind and the intelligence with the self that brings such a harmonious sense of peace and contentment.

Cutting out all the waffle...Blue skies or not, yoga makes me feel good. It is that which keeps me coming back for more, and has done for 20 years.

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