It must be time for me to update this blog. I've been remiss and have no excuse other than the usual - life gets in the way. However, I have to say that this particular blogging site is really annoying. Many times it won't load or won't load properly. How many glitches have to be ironed out? Uploading an image is often impossible and then deletes without any input on my part.
I missed out on wishing Leonard Cohen a happy birthday on 21st September, he's 75 now. I think his concert tour is over and he's gone home to Montreal. I read that he had a health scare at his penultimate concert in Spain but is OK. Having seen him in the flesh, I am amazed at his stamina. He is so small and so fragile looking. One day I'm going to go to Montreal and see him!
The winter is hanging on here in the far south west. We've had a fire every day for weeks and weeks. The wood pile is right down so we have had to order some more. We're down to about 6 of these logs. This is really good
wood, it burns clean.
Yoga classes are continuing, even on the worst days - rain, hail and so on, students come to class. I think to myself, 'really, only one person has to be there - and that's me!' so it is rewarding to have 6 or 7 people lob up for class. In the evening class I light the hall with candles because the strip lighting is so glary. It looks lovely and we do heaps of flowing asanas. Now that I've invested in an iPod and speakers, it is easy to use a variety of music for some of the work we do. I've worked out a sequence that moves the body and mind as a meditation. It is still a work in progress and I think it will always be that. Sometimes a small, brown rabbit hops up to the door and peers in. During day classes, the duck often pay us a visit and leave their calling cards in the doorway. Walking back to the car after evening class is an adventure. It is pitch dark by the time we finish. There used to be a light outside but one of the residents in Nornalup has managed to switch it off and now it does not work (I guess it shone into their house?). I am aware that there are a lot of tiger snakes around (Nornalup translates as 'place of many, many snakes') and so my hike across to the car is a bit fraught! I'm usually laden down with bits and pieces including a torch that shines everywhere except where I'm walking! Nevertheless, that last half hour on my own in the hall is precious to me. I wind down from the class and tidy up the hall. My students ask me if they can stay back and help pack up - but I send them on their way. Some of them come from far and there are heaps of 'roos on the road at night.
Next entry when I'm ready ...
Friday, 4 September 2009
Many people think that yoga means standing on your head, but it really means learning how to stand firmly on your feet. Swami Satchidananda
I have been practicing yoga for more than four decades. I had my first lesson in 1964 soon after I got married. My husband’s aunt, who was a student of BKS Iyengar, visited us at the camp where we lived in Hwange Game Reserve in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Lynette introduced me to some of the asanas, including Suraya Namaskar. She also led me through a Yoga Nidra. Lynette gave me a roneoed booklet she had written and, because of the isolated area in which we lived, my practice was mainly guided by the asanas therein.
Since immigrating to Australia in 1982 and starting formal lessons at the Beacon Yoga Centre (Ashram) yoga has become even more important in my life. I appreciate the continuing thread that runs through the practice of yoga, down the millennia and into our lives now. I have had many teachers through the years and they have influenced me deeply. I am aware that my yoga practice (sadhana) contains inspiration from all of my teachers. It is this continuity and integrity that I offer to my own students.
In 2000, I graduated from the FinY Teachers Training Course and taught at the Beacon Yoga Centre until retiring in July 2007. Teaching yoga has influenced my ‘other’ (academic) teaching at Murdoch University, where I completed my PhD and a Graduate Diploma in Education. I taught in the Student Learning Centre, Murdoch Business School, Foundation Units and ... Politics - Security Studies.
Since retiring, I have continued teaching yoga in Walpole, Nornalup and the surrounding areas. The classes started very small (sometimes only one student) but the numbers have built and there is now a dedicated band of students – some of whom drive many kilometres to attend a class. A few of the students bring their babies and young children to class and, where possible, I include the little ones, even if just to hold a baby through the relaxation so the mother can properly relax. Teaching yoga in a remote farming area has many idiosyncratic qualities and it is necessary to be flexible! Payment is nominal and is often in the form of eggs, garden produce and the like. My only condition is no livestock!
From my many teachers and drawing on my own research and studies, I have created a form of yoga that is accessible to young and old, the healthy and the not-so-healthy! Underpinning all my yoga classes is humour. Yoga is serious fun - a smile, a joke and/or a good belly laugh are encouraged. Thankfully, my students have become used to my ... fairly quirky ... sense of humour.
I have learned from Swami Laksmi, that a yoga class generally consists of:
Back bend (cobra, locust, bow).
So, a forward bend, a backward bend, a twist, lateral (trikonasana) and inverted asanas.
I have also learned that this is negotiable - it depends on the students and how I am feeling on the day. Learning to 'wing it' is indispensable for a yoga teacher.
I have learned that there is a difference between pain and stimulating an obstacle (or resistance) in the body. To discover your own threshold, pull back a fraction and hold. Allow the body to release into the posture. Get in touch with the inner intelligence of your body – listen to it, the intelligence of the body.
Everybody, whatever the level, gets the same benefits from the practice working within their own capabilities with awareness. In other words, you don’t have to tie yourself in knots, compete, and strain to get the benefit!
Swami Venkatesananda said “... whatever you can do today is perfect for you today!”
Body and mind are one, they affect each other.
After yoga you feel light and energised – not exhausted!
Forward bends calm
Donna Farhi says, "... for your asanas to change and grow, you learn to sustain a mobile core in each pose and then allow the movement of your breath to slowly open your body. For transformation to occur, you have to drop your preconceptions." She says, "Asanas come alive through our questioning, our curiosity, our openness to change and our delight in discovery, rather than by finding a set answer which we can safely repeat in every practice. If you already know the answer, why bother repeating the question?"
Yoga balances my life – otherwise I tend to live too much in the intellect. Love of yoga has led me down many paths of self-development and spiritual awakening. I have often integrated some of the methods I’ve learned elsewhere into my yoga practice, only to find that yoga was there first!
I have a sense that for many of us, our first yoga teacher holds a similar place in our hearts to first love!