Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Writing down your ideas

"Writing down your ideas is an excellent way of capturing the thoughts and images that are whizzing around in your head. And there is nothing like sitting down with a piece of paper in front of you to make those ideas disappear from view. But you must persevere - I find that it is in the struggling to find the words to describe vague images or concepts that they clarify into a tangible idea."

-Katrina McPherson, Making Video Dance

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Practice Journal

I had forgotten how much I enjoy solo practice. I moved last week into a new room that finally has a space for me to roll out a mat and do a sun salutation without whacking any furniture.  My first few practices here have been wonderful, under a skylight and with no pressure of comparisons. My energy is generally quieter and cooler. My body is calmer and listens better. I do feel like I have my best focus when I am alone - just as when I started going into my practice in earnest in 2012 with my little travel mat while on tour.

Two days ago this came to me in practice:

Body: Your most treasured achievements will come not from desperation but from steadiness.

Then I sat down today with the delightful little yoga philosophy handbook by my current teacher Hamish Hendry, and this jumped out at me from his selection of his favourite Yoga Sutras - "Sthira sukham asanam" (Steady comfort posture - in postures as well as in being)

And more on being in the moment - after I told my friend J about my recent observation about not living in painful moments of the past, she added on a paraphrase from a Contact Improvisation workshop she had taken with Robert Anderson:

"You can't be *here* if you're trying to be over there!"

Increasingly I am convinced that practice is a way to receive accumulated human wisdom.
(Upanishads in 2000BC, Yoga Sutras in 100AD, up to the contemporary wisdom of our teachers and friends!)

Thursday, 12 February 2015

What my body has understood - Practice journal

This morning I thought that this could be a good time to document my sporadic practice journal from my Ashtanga practice over the years.  I often get the sense that my body is understanding something that my over-stressed brain has not figured out.  They are usually blindingly common-sense kind of things.

Today and recently:

Body: Use this practice to be in the present.  You are not your distractions or your flashbacks of humiliating moments in your life.  You are the present, here, on the mat.

Body: All you need to do today is stand on the ground.

Some old ones:

Body: Don't practice yoga to lose weight.
Me: But that's why I started.  Ashtanga is yoga+workout.
Body:  If you want to lose weight go for a run.  Your practice will give you other things.
Me: Oh.

Body: All you need to do is breathe.  All you need to think about is breathing.
Me: This is hard!

Body: Breathing just happens whether you think about it or not.  Just let it happen and listen to its rhythm.

Body: Remember ten years ago, one of your yoga teachers said "Soft mind, soft body".

Body: Moving your body will train your mind. (Just like your teacher has said.)  This isn't about what series or pose you are doing, whether you achieve the bind.  This is about coming back to the same place every day.

Body: I will always be here with you.