The days that we spent out east in British Columbia were wonderful. It’s technically a desert environment and the scenery was beautiful. It reminded me of parts of the Mediterranean: the desert sage brush looked from a distance like maquis and smelt a bit like it too.
I was a bit frustrated that I couldn’t explore more easily and immerse myself in the landscape, to enjoy the smells and textures of the plants and the soil, to watch the birds, and to wonder at all the strange insects. In Greece I’d have simply put on my army trousers and boots, topped up with water and sunscreen and yomped up the nearest hill. But here the land is native-owned and not open access. Plus there’s the rattlesnake threat that spooks me more than any Mediterranean critters.
Instead my pioneering explorations have been at the micro-scale on the yoga mat instead of out in the wide landscape. I’ve loved my slow practices here! Each day is mid-30s until quite late in the evening, so when I practice at the end of the afternoon, it’s hot. My muscles feel so great at this temperature and I found I can easily move into poses that aren’t usually very accessible. Hello Supta Virasana, Bird of Paradise, Utthita Padangusthasana — not to mention that absolutely any kind of twisting posture feels so beautiful and opening, not tense and effort-ful as usual. This increased flexibility has opened up a new opportunity for exploration of movement, and it’s been fascinating feeling different ways of making the shapes and seeing what my body can do in this moment, without pre-judging where I’ll go. And then watching my mental reactions. Wonder and excitement? Gratitude? Irritation and resentment? Why now, why not always like this?
It gives me some insight into some of the bodies I see around me in class, which slip apparently effortlessly into various shapes that I patiently coax myself towards, but which my body ultimately resists. I envy them. But maybe (I resolutely tell myself!) there’s more learning in working slowly and humbly into unexplored places rather than arriving instantly? If this depth was ordinarily accessible to me I wouldn’t have the sense of adventure and curiosity I currently feel; I’d arrive in these places without noticing… and still be eager for the next thing, of course. It would be easy to believe this is ‘better’ practice, simply because my asanas are deeper. I know that’s not true. For me this is just a holiday from my usual way of being.
And when the serious yoga was over I played on the paddleboard, a different way of exploring balance and concentration, enjoying what my body can do — and finding out what it definitely can’t do! The learning here was a quick realisation that it’s best to stop laughing at myself right before the submersion point! 🙂