If you follow me on instagram you may have cottoned on to the fact that I've cranked the volume on my yoga practice a little over the past month. The thrice daily yoga themed posts may have (not so) subtly alluded to the fact that I am in love. My body feels great, my mind feels great and I am learning, expanding and challenging myself oh so much.
I have dabbled in yoga for the past few years. Choosing various poses to 'nail', doing a few Hatha classes here and there, having a go with various styles through online video tutorials. But, I must admit, I never fully 'got it'. I felt good and it was fun to have a good stretch. But I longed for that dope connection and ridiculous sense of peace that all of these yogis harped on about. I decided to commit to a one month Ashtanga course to learn a little more about the practice of yoga and to challenge myself physically (as I'd heard you tend to build up a bit of a sweat working through the Ashtanga series).
I'm fortunate enough to live five minutes from the most beautiful, soulful yoga school that I absolutely adore. Samudra is a yoga school and incredible cafe in the South West of WA and is just so gosh darn beautiful. The teachers there are uber talented and have such an obvious passion for yoga and for teaching that you can't help but be inspired and empowered in their presence. If you're keen to learn more about Ashtanga and its practice, have a read here and familiarise yo'self.
When I saw that Samudra was offering an introductory Ashtanga course - I was all over it. Seriously. If you ever are blessed with the opportunity to travel to this blissful part o' the world and can commit to a months' practice then I would definitely recommend participating in this super dooper course. My beautiful teacher was a wildly passionate yogi who posessed such an overwhelming love and respect for yoga that you truly felt that you were part of something so special and sacred when you stepped foot in her 'classroom'. I set the intention at the start of May that I wanted to be fully present in my practice and to fill my mind with empowering words such as 'breathe', 'surrender' and 'connect' as I moved from posture to posture. And that's exactly what I did. From the first 'aum' to the final savasanah. Complete and utter connection as I found that divine balance between surrender and strength.
A huge part of my journey was the challenge of radical self acceptance. Bombarded with thoughts of 'why can't my leg do that?', 'I'm only three sun salutations in?!', 'what the hell kind of Gumby plactisine are they made of?!'. My body is muscular, and larger framed and sturdy. It's not really long and lean, it's not one of those bodies that just flops and folds into crazy postures and it drives me crazy sometimes with its tendency to store 'winter warmth' around my midsection. But the past month has helped me immensely in appreciating my body for what it can do, what it is capable of and what an incredible blessing it is to have a healthy, happy and strong little vessel to cart around my ol' soul. At the end of most morning sessions - I would float my ass back, brew a cup of tea and sketch my newly learnt asanas. I learnt about asanaglyphs during a Speakeasy lecture at Wanderlust Oahu and the beautiful simplistic sketches resonated with me right away. So I would journal, doodle, reflect and surrender a little further.
The entire course built up to equipping us with the sequence so that we could integrate confidently and seamlessly into a traditional Mysore class. Mysore classes are a self practice class that is supervised, gently guided and assisted by a teacher (or two). Yogis run through the asanas that they have learned within the Ashtanga series, with the teacher adding or enhancing postures when they feel the student is ready. I have loved these sessions. Firstly, being offered first thing in the morning they set you up for such an incredibly calming, centred and blessed start to the day. Secondly, going at your own pace is really empowering. There is no competition, no times to keep up with, no one to better. It's entirely your practice, and your practice alone. Thirdly, being surrounded by yogis of all ages, stages, shapes and sizes who are completely focused on their own practice is incredibly inspiring.
The past month has been a profound learning experience and one that I will truly treasure forever. It has fanned flames in my belly, sparked an insatiable appetite for new knowledge and has seen me practice daily and chase that 'aum'.
Blessings, chaturangas and namastes x