Circle of support

I heard someone say the other day that you’re never alone when you’re practising yoga: whenever you step onto your mat anywhere in the world, day or night, you can be sure that someone somewhere is doing the same thing. The idea was that although yoga is inherently a solitary practice, you’re not really going it alone. When it feels hard, when the uncertainty and doubt gets too much, we can harness this feeling of togetherness and support, even at a distance.

When I do my home practice certainly I’m often not alone — Hubby likes to practice when I do. He says my ujjayi breath warms the room up nicely! I also notice him watching me and he often turns towards the poses I’m studying, learning from what he sees. It’s nice for me to observe the changes in his practice and he too takes pleasure in seeing me develop the postures I’m exploring. So although selfishly I’d sometimes prefer more space to myself, the shared time is also quite beautiful.

He usually finishes his practice before me, so I do get some time by myself. Of course, it feels different once he’s left the room. I can take up more space physically, as I drift off the mat and become more expansive in my movements. I find these times are also interesting energetically. I turn more deeply inward, with a greater focus on self-observation and quiet focus. These are the times when I really let go and release something from deep inside. “Dance like there’s no-one watching” works for yoga too!

And today after a deep savasana, this experience of alone—not-alone in yoga arose in a rather wonderful way. As I sat quietly offering my customary gratitudes to close my practice, it seemed that my teachers were sitting around me, forming a circle. I could feel them holding me up through their love, encouragement, and support. I had such a strong sense of their presence, I could almost feel their touch, the way they would guide me in my practice or help me in some physical way. Intense but brief memories: a particular assist from one, playing trust games of balance with another, chanting together, a familiar look and smile, a hug, the way they each say my name with their unique intonations and accents.

In UK we’re in lockdown now so even my local teacher feels far way and the others are geographically more distance to greater or lesser degrees. Yet I felt so strongly that they were all there with me, that they were there just for me. It was quite strange, the intense vividity of this experience. And I loved it. If I could capture the experience to replay at will — at need even — I would. And see which of them would be first to call me out on the need for non-attachment! 🙂

7 thoughts on “Circle of support

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  1. Gandhi said “The mantra becomes one’s staff of life, and carries one through every ordeal. It is no empty repetition. For each repetition has a new meaning, carrying you nearer and nearer to God.” Your practice sounds like it is your mantra. No matter what turmoils you are facing in the UK, your mat, your practice, your yoga will never leave you. I am inspired by your practice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such an interesting thought. I do often describe asana and mantra as feeling very similar in my practice, two sides of the same — the repetition that takes one deeper within.
      Thank you for your kind comment too, which means something coming from you!!
      The practice indeed feels something of a lifeline, but curiously too I’ve never stepped onto the mat with such joy as I do now.
      Hoping you and yours are well enough, Michael. You share less these days, and I miss that! x

      Liked by 2 people

  2. And don’t forget your connections on this side of the ocean! We are all spinning in that ecstatic dance of Shiva that I am exploring in both the Shiva Tāndava Stotram and in embodied movement. Here is a favourite link to a young dancer’s sublime expression of the Stotram:

    (Supratim Talukder)
    Chanting this stotram is amazing… the metrical, alliterative, and onomatopoeic devices used are so effective at recreating the energy of the tāndava dance of Shiva – !

    Liked by 1 person

      1. He is an amazing dancer. This has obviously been filmed (really well!) for YouTube. If you check out his YouTube channel there are some videos of him dancing for examinations – so impressive and inspiring!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I just stumbled across your blog and love this post! I’m a UK yoga teacher too and I have to livestream for Leeds City Council 3 times a week. Unlike my own Zoom classes, you can’t see any of the participants and I keep having to reach out and hope they hear me, that we are all in a community. In our Sun Salutations today, I kept feeling we should pause and re-set at the end of each round and feel the magic of doing them all together. Alone. But together alone. I really feel like yoga is a Circle of Support in these strange days and I loved what you said about seeing your teachers supporting you. Teachers support students but teachers are also supported knowing their students are there and that yoga can keep us all flowing forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Eleanor! Always nice to connect with readers — blogging is a bit like live-streaming, an act of faith that what you share lands somewhere with someone. The whole pandemic situation is hard in so many ways for everyone, but there are some good things in it, and the sharing of yoga and sustaining of our communities is one such! Keep on with your live-streaming, have faith in yourself and those you can’t see.


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