Yoga in the hood

Watching the news last night I learned that the Greek for ‘mafia’ is ‘mafia’ and drugs are ‘narkotika’. Both words featured in an item about drug taking and gang violence in a nearby neighbourhood. The same neighbourhood that friends recently warned me about, as a foreigner. Also the neighbourhood where the nearest yoga studio is!

I took class there today, an early evening class when I reckoned it would be a more friendly locale to wander through than late at night. At least until I get my bearings. There were some armed police in their usual (in Athens) armour of shields and greaves hanging around on the street corner and the studio looked a little uninviting from the outside, as you can see. But never judge a book by its cover… Of course, it was a lovely oasis inside!

But I’ll tell you I was pretty anxious about going to a class. Even at home if I don’t go to the local studio for a week, I feel like I’ll never set foot in class again, become a yoga hermit and just practise at home on my own. Nothing wrong with that for many, but I know it wouldn’t do me any good long term. I need other people around me, I need the teacher helping me find the inner good stuff I don’t believe is there when I’m left too long to my own devices.

Today the teacher very kindly taught in English just for me! Mostly… It was a really nice class. A good balance of repetition of some sequences to allow me to settle down and go inside, but with quite a lot of physical stuff to work towards. I have no idea how I fitted within the range of the class ability, I was just focussed on doing my own thing, but Eka Pada Bakasana, Baddha Ardha Candrasana and Bhujipidasana have certainly never been on my menu of yet-achieveable asanas. I needed breath and focus to find my place with these and play where I am. I’m just glad I’d done my own practice this morning, coincidentally with quite a lot of hip and shoulder stuff, and working with binding which I habitually avoid. So by the time she called Pinca Mayurasana I was feeling pretty OK in my body — even though this has never been a pose for me. I took it to the wall and used a block between my hands — I know how to set this asana up, I’ve just never actually inverted here before. I’ve never been able to pronate the forearms enough for it to feel wise to try to take my weight like this. But today… it felt OK! I wonder if the range of movement stuff with my scapulae I’ve been working on might be making a difference? The teacher came round to talk after I’d lowered down from my pose. She complimented my alignment, clearly a bit surprised by my ‘first time’ comment! It made me want to get straight on the phone to my teacher back home — some ridiculous, childish desire to share and tell him that his good teaching of me was recognised by this teacher in a far away foreign studio! 🙂

After my first Greek yoga studio experience I got home and realised that I don’t have the fine domestic routine of accommodating yoga class that I have honed in England. In Greece it’s normal to turn on the hot water boiler for an hour or so before you can take a hot shower, and I hadn’t thought of this before I went out, so my shower was cold. Brrr! And Hubby was tired from his day of library study, so if I wanted to eat I had to do the cooking. Clearly my day was deemed less tiring than his. Mine was just 4 hours on that mat all told, an hour of Sanskrit study, an hour of mantra and harmonium practice…

2 thoughts on “Yoga in the hood

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  1. Yikes. That was my initial response to your story. The neighborhood sounds a bit scary. But your courage is what really grabbed me. It was brave to go into that studio, in a rough neighborhood in a foreign country, get on your mat and embrace the process, find yourself and let go. Yay to you for having a successful experience, with the class and with your abilities with a new and difficult asana.Your home practice paid off. Applause all around!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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