Training Day 4

Snow Storm by JMW Turner

Snow Storm by JMW Turner

Behind The Thunder by Mark Nepo

I keep looking for one more teacher,
only to find that fish learn from water
and birds learn from sky.

If you want to learn about the sea,
it helps to be at sea.
If you want to help learn about compassion,
it helps to be in love.

If you want to learn about healing,
it helps to know of suffering.
The strong live in the storm
without worshipping the storm.

Chakra focus: Two – money, power and sex
Coconuts drunk: 1
Favourite pose: Vinyasana

If you want to learn how to be a yoga teacher it also helps to practice yoga. Apparently.

Today we had a lecture on the Sutras and today I also ate fish for the first time in many, MANY years. 4th Day of consistent meditation and only now am I listening to my body. And surprising, guilt of environmental destruction has yet to bubble up. Promise: to start listening more and labelling less. And I do label, all the time – unintentionally of course and mostly I just label myself: 'teacher, yogi, veggie, activist...' as if I would be less of one if I abstained from the other.

Fuck that. Just, yeah. Done.

In Forrest Yoga you are trained to detect stories woven into students' bodies. In her book Fierce Medicine (which I highly recommend) Ana Forrest talks about her re-discovery of her own life story; Yoga was her tool in working through this trauma. Having assisted Ana for many years, and having his own depth of life stories (full disclosure can be found in his book – again, which I highly recommend: Two Lifestyles, One Lifetime), Les is a great reader of body language. Often he will stop us and ask – what is that twist in their left hip revealing? About family? Relationships? Dig deep, explore. No, no 'I think' - just tell us. There is no backing out, no 'bailasana', either of the scrutiny or often in the asana themselves ('5 more breaths - why rob yourself of all that joy?').

In Sutras 1.12 Patanjali states that 'practice' or abhyasa is required to still the mind 'citta vrtti nirodha', which is of course the object of Yoga, right? (1.2). All of November Les is doing a free book tour in Australia, in service of those with addictions. Yoga. Today we learned (some more successfully than others...just do my practice and all is coming, right?!) to jump from pigeon to eka pada bakasana. Yoga. Yesterday we all sat in a circle, closed our eyes and did kapalabati breathing for an hour. Yoga.

The Second Chakra, our focus, is the creative centre and mine I now know is tired and underfed. Only now am I starting to once more feel this vibrancy. I am inspired, excited. I want to give students these 90 minutes [ok, an hour if you're on a lunch-break] of intense, breath-building beautiful Vinyasa; transitions and sweat-inducing flows that their bodies have never experienced so that they can ebb, break and be built up again; they can let go of their minds because they won't know what's happening next – and it doesn't matter, because we'll never know in life either what is around that next Downward Facing Dog (a car accident, a bereavement, a celebration, standing splits?). I am making a pledge now to honour my energy and take a step back from 16 classes a week; I don't teach Ashtanga anymore – these classes are an exhilarating, exhaustive creative act, choreographed and built out of personal practice, hard and joyful study. They will be an artful expression and will be open to the ebb and flow of the students and their energies. I need to find a way to make it a sustainable, surprising and safe practice, for all involved – including the teacher.

The mantra of the second chakra is 'Honour Each Other' – so you have to hold me to this when I get back. It is also National Poetry Day! So thank you second chakra. I promise to take better care of you in the future. In gratitude yogis!

The strong live in the storm
without worshipping the storm.

ash xx

Ash BondComment