I practiced twice yesterday, once in the morning, as usual, then again in the evening at Danny Paradise’s workshop.

Morning practice was fine, all of the stiffness and angst I had taken into practice on Thursday was overcome and things flowed nicely. It is amusing how much state of mind effects physical performance. Friday is my favourite week day at the shala. It is usually pretty quiet so there is no waiting to worry about and there is plenty of space to move.

The practice in the evening was also very nice. I stayed at work until about 6.30 and then went and had a coffee and snack with a colleague before the workshop started. A 7.45 start time seemed pretty late, particularly when you are used to starting practice about 13 hours earlier! Danny started talking about the origins of yoga and made lots of good point. I wish I had written some notes as many of them were very sensible and blog worthy!

The two main points that I took away from his introductory talk were firstly that there should be no dogma attached to yoga, and yet whenever a practice is conceived, be it yoga or religion or whatever, people will get totally attached to the way it should be done. There are no rules in yoga, there is no right or wrong way to practice, the ashtanga police are not going to come to get you if you practice mayurasana in your living room when you haven’t been given second (my poing – not Danny’s!)

The other point that struck home is that there is no path to happiness. Happiness is your own state of mind and you must create it. We all encounter problems in our lives and only we can decide how long we are going to hold on to them. You can make something a problem for a lifetime if you wish, but at the end of the day, we have the power to change our lives very quickly indeed if we are prepared to let things go.

There was of course quite a lot of emphasis on how good yoga is for you and how yogis will live long and healthy lives. I think he was preaching to the converted last night; I tend to think that those who attend yoga workshops on Friday nights already have a fairly established connection to yoga!

We then moved onto the standing poses from primary, laced with interesting variations. Most of the variations seemed to involve adding additional twists and balances to the poses. The konasanas were twisted and bound, legs were lifted off the floor and balance challenged. The prasaritas were taken to the floor in to upavista konasana and stretched into parigasana. Parsvakonasana was taken up into a standing balance, uttitha hasta padangustasana was just that, no whistles or bells really. Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana was started with bent standing leg, and arms spread outwards, hands pointing upwards (a martial arts Eagle), then the extended leg straightened and the foot bound, before coming right down to the floor and balancing on the heel of the bent leg. Another challenge to the balance! The warriors were taken into ardha chandrasana, which was pretty hard work after all of the extra bits that were added in through the standing sequence. We finished off with a short closing sequence of backbends, some shoulder stand variations which I didn’t really manage to pick up as it was hard to see him demonstrate them, then impossible to untangle the concepts whilst upside down. We finished with a 15 minute savasana – it was 10pm by that time so my body was winding down for sleeping – it was a good thing I had the coffee beforehand or I might have been there until the morning. Savasana at 10pm is an odd experience especially when you can hear the buzz of human activity outside in the bars and restaurants of Kingly Court.

After the workshop 6 of us went off and had a rather mediocre, but cheap Chinese meal. I was hoping to have the energy to go to the Blues Bar afterwards, but it was close to midnight by the time we finished eating, so we headed home instead, holding on to the thought that just like a yoga practice, the Blues Bar will be there tomorrow and the day after, and the day after, and …..