Thursday, February 2, 2012

Last Few Days Of The Yoga Class

Our Yoga class is slowly winding down, the teacher is moving to Mysore where a fresh batch of students await him. After studying with him for almost ten years (the first six involving three hour classes from Monday to Saturday, beginning at 6 a.m. sharp) there is a little tug of separation. Try as we might to emulate paths laid down by the yogis, feelings intervene at times.

The class is almost empty now, just my husband and I and the teacher. We spend the last few days asking questions of all kinds, moving as always, towards understanding the asanas (postures) and pranayama (breath control) within our limitations. It is a time of change.

The yoga teacher discusses teaching styles and ways to correct students. Having gone down this path for so long, we have decided to finally teach, but the details are still unclear.

We stretch, lift, inhale, relax - and occasionally collapse - some things don't seem to change! The yoga teacher is trying to convey the very essence of the practice to each of us, it seems to me. My husband is shown ways to correct difficult movements and I am reminded of the key components of the practice - focussing on the joints, breath and mind.

The joints of the limbs (shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle) are all to be relaxed in each posture. A Herculean task! Along with this, the breath must flow smoothly and uniformly. It doesn't - and the body feels heavy, stiff. I try and see whether the stiffness precedes the block in breathing or whether lack of proper breathing makes me feel heavy. Much of the time it is the latter. The breath seems much more sensitive to little bumps and knots inside and it seems to stop at times when we cannot perceive any block. Then, after a moment we feel the stiffening of the knee perhaps or a shift of weight in the hip joint and know that we are stuck and to unstick ourselves we need to resume breathing.

The mind is the hardest to deal with. To disregard its tendencies to flit about and to remain focussed on the breathing and movements is a big challenge for me. To be able to do this on my own each day - the thought is daunting but exciting as well. For this is the only way to go deeper into the practice.

But no matter what we do (or don't do), some essence of the practice always remains within us, ready to express itself at any moment we choose.

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