So I completed the 3 day immersion I was fretting about so much. And I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about it in a reasonable sized blog post… but I can’t! It was just too much of an experience to boil down to anything sensible. Plus my heart, mind, and body are still in different ways processing all the experiences and there’s no coherent narrative, just a sequence of moments.
I spent the first day battling the teacher, battling myself, my fears and anxieties expressing themselves in resistance. I learned a lot simply from watching that, uncomfortable viewing as it was. But it wasn’t going to get me very far and I didn’t want the weekend to be a replaying of old habits. New company, a new location should make new approaches more accessible.
So once I opened myself up more, the possibilities just went on and on. The second day I threw myself into the experience whole-heartedly, putting ideas and thoughts aside and simply being and doing. As much as I could I just gave my body and my heart over to the teacher and let it happen.
A taste of yoga perhaps — as a state rather than a practice? A moment when I was transported elsewhere. Somewhere within, somewhere beyond. My breath drawing my body in a ceaseless wave of movement as I relinquished control and gave myself over. Acutely conscious of each breath, of moving my body into alignment, setting myself strongly before my weight shifted into a new shape. It was almost an observation of myself, yet with such strong physical awareness and sensation. I moved like an animal, as though my body was just naturally doing what it was meant to do, and my mind was subjugated to that physical necessity. Like watching a cat placing its paws precisely as it stalks through the grass or gathering the strength into its core before it springs into a vertical jump, powering upwards. I too inhabited such shapes naturally. There was a new sense of space in my body and a different perception of time: even fast sequences felt like slow-motion, as my moment to moment awareness offered up such a level of detail within each pose and through the transitions.
And when I neared the point of physical exhaustion I surrendered into this experience more deeply, finding a precious balance between discipline and submission, setting the structural integrity of poses even through weary, shaky muscles. Thinking was unnecessary. My breath flowed. My body moved itself.
Now in the days following my ears still replay the refrain that repeatedly called me to pick up and begin a cycle again “exhale through bent knees into adho mukta svanasana” and my body imperceptibly responds, recalling the sensation of muscles pushing, pulling, working in harmony, following the breath through vinyasa after vinyasa. Tired but exultant.
And my heart is still singing “Ganesha sharanam sharanam Ganesha”.
And somewhere just beyond my conscious understanding I sense almost imperceptibly a horizon where these two refrains will combine, where the physical practice unites with some more esoteric experience of the world and of being in the world. It will be a sound only I can hear (just as others have their unique modalities), but it can be expressed in its purest form: OM.
My yoga started as a practice to hold me together, to cope with the minor brutalities of modern living and some of the starker realities of human existence. Now I am ready to explore some gentle unravelling, knowing my practice is a container that will support me. Through this gentle but firm dance, this vinyasa of life, this practice of abhyasa and vairagya, I am released little by little.
And it will raise me up.