May 2009


Not much writing going on from me at the moment. Far too many things going on, holidays, work, trying to move house….

I am still practicing at TY having singed up for a month, which expires in about a weeks time. I have been continuously wavering about what to do next. I had a week where I really missed the shala and had decided to go back, but then last week we had a different cover teacher, who has been fantastic, so now I don’t feel I can make a final decision until I have tried the regular teacher who gets back from Mysore at the beginning of July. So, for now I think I may do a couple of weeks of June at THE shala, then give TY another go…. Anyway, both of them are not going anywhere so I can take my time, I suppose.

Practice has been OK. I am FINALLY making what can be described as fair progress with the back bending. I’m now doing 5 drop backs on my own, with help coming back up… I feel so nearly there, just not quite. I’m working on walking my hands in so as to get my hips further over my feet, which will help me to stand up. I think practicing with different teachers has helped to the extent that I got complacent at the shala. H knew that I couldn’t really do it, so I just relied on being properly assisted, but with the new teachers, I am working on the basis that there is an expectation that I CAN do it, which is definitely a better mental starting point for me!

Other than that, it has been a marvelously sunny weekend, and I have enjoyed doing not very much other than sitting in the sunshine and hanging out with friends. Nice.

May he rest in peace.

Guru: An advisor or teacher. The term, which comes from Hinduism, refers to a spiritual teacher. “Gu” means darkness, and “ru” means light; thus a guru turns ignorance into enlightenment.

Here I am in the airport, killing time before a meeting which the client scheduled for 12.30, then re-scheduled for 1.30 AFTER I had booked my flight. Anyway, It’s nice to have a few spare minutes to write when I don’t really have anything else nagging me.

Monday practice, back at TY was OK. Lots of adjustments and a new found enthusiasm for drop backs after my weekends sucesses. I ended up doing 3 urdvha D from the floor, one unassisted drop back, from which I couldn’t stand up, then five assisted drop backs. I prefer dropping into back bends than pushing up from the floor. Pushing up puts more strain on my lower spine and seems to wrench my shoulders a little. Yesterday I had the same enthusiasm for the back bending and was assisted for 6 drop backs. The teacher is making me inhale for the first part of the descent, opening the chest and relaxing the shoulders, then exhaling for a controlled descent, then inhale back up. This may work, although so far I inhale and bend, then pretty much crash down on the exhale. My own drop backs are much slower, but I suppose that is part of slowly learning which muscles to engage to get the required control.

My hamstring has been playing up a bit, On Monday it felt like it was threaded with steel cable, just not stretching at all. This may have been due to three mornings off practice.

No practice today due to the early flight, but I should get back to the mat tomorrow. I have paid for a month at TY to see how things settle. One observation is that there are more absolute beginners dropping in, and they are quite teacher time intensive, and without an assistant, this means that adjustments can be sporadic. I am still keeping an open mind.

Anyone who knows me even a little bit will know that I ALWAYS rise to a challenge…. so here you are. Live (almost) from a hotel room in Maidstone….

The exceptional part of this challenge is the fact that I stood up too, which I haven’t done since I was about 12 and did gymnastics!!!!

Go Team UK!!!!

I have been to another shala this week, certainly with mixed emotion. The only reason I have done this is because I’m having trouble scheduling my practice to fit into the time available at AYL.

It has got to the point at AYL that almost every day I am there I wait, then only do half a practice or make a decision to get to work late. This introduces stress into my practice, which isn’t a good thing.

None-the-less, I feel very conflicted about the change. I love the feeling of community at the shala, I love H and the assistants. I suppose I feel like I am deserting my teacher and that I should try to make changes to my routine in order to fit in to what might work at the shala, but at the end of the day, I really can’t.

As I am not in the position to make other people stop practicing at AYL or make the space bigger, I need to make other changes myself for the sake of my practice. I am reminding myself that it is my practice and I need to do what is best for me. How strong should an attachment to a teacher be? It feels odd to say ‘I am not going to practice with a teacher’ only because I can’t fit it into my schedule. So, at the moment I need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages or practising somewhere else. Does loyalty to my teacher make up for the inconvenience and unpredictability of my practice at the moment?

My experience at TY hasn’t been bad this week. On the first day I didn’t get many adjustments, but fair enough. I would expect a teacher to want to see my whole practice before adjusting. As I understand it, the teacher is only covering for the regular teacher who is in Mysore for a couple of months. He had a whole room of new faces this week, so it will take him some time too.

Today was better, being recognised as somebody who is dedicated to actually turning up to practice (most of the time!). I got a good adjustment in Supta K and was held there for about 10 breaths, and also had an amazingly strong adjust in Baddha konasana, which is rather a ‘nemesis’ in my practice.

I also had a bit of a mental revolution today and whilst waiting for assistance to drop back I psyched myself up and actually did one on my own. In the past I have shied away from trying in case I fall because I am tired. Standing waiting I thought to myself ‘why am I not doing this on my own, I know I can, ok, it hurts a bit, but lets try….

Advantages which actually don’t really weight my decision include having 6 feet of space around the mat rather than 6 inches (ok, slight exaggeration), a reasonably good temperature, being able to have my glasses close at hand when practising, and of course, having a shower on site… There aren’t really any disadvantages other than having a different teacher, and having to get on the Central line!!!

But even after writing all of this my head is saying, do you really need to leave your current teacher?

How do I make the choice?