by Paul Warner
Week 2 had arrived, the nerves were still there but mixed with anticipation this time. The same pupils do the course, each week, so it felt more comfortable seeing faces I recognised.
The first week had seemed so gentle but despite this, I appear to have discovered that my tummy does have muscles, hidden somewhere, under all those vanilla lattes… I had definitely felt the twinges. The lesson started as always with us lying on the mat, palms facing up to allow our body to me more open, something we re-visit many times as the weeks go on. A new discovery came along, Josie asked us to place our tongue at Fire Point, this is where the gum and the teeth meet on the roof of your mouth. For some bizarre reason, I have just realised that as I am writing this, my tongue has gravitated to Fire Point. Try it now, you will realise that as soon as you do it, your jaw just melts into a relaxed mode. Remember last week, I talked about all that stored energy that the shoulder roll eases, well Fire Point is a hot bed for this energy.
Knees raised, the block appeared between my thighs, simple I thought, anyone can hold a block.
Breathing and grounding followed, palms again face down on the mat, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, a new toy then appeared. Remember at school the blocks from swimming lessons? well, these are very similar. Knees raised, the block appeared between my thighs, simple I thought, anyone can hold a block. But this was Josie, that stern but warm voice I described last week then commanded me to raise my hips into a bridge, weight moving to my shoulders. Me being me, I just lifted straight up but then matron Josie reminded us, (although I am sure she meant me) that the moves need to be a very conscious thing, awareness was king. This got my mind drifting to all the times we go through an action without any awareness, times we drive somewhere and arrive without remembering the journey.
Awareness of a very conscious movement was far more important than being first to cross the finish line.
The same it would seem, applies in Yoga. Awareness of a very conscious movement was far more important than being first to cross the finish line.
All fours now and a second block appeared. Now between my feet, the blocks seemed to serve no purpose and as if my mind was being read, that voice came again, reminding me that alignment is so important and the blocks helped this process perfectly.
I swear to this day that the next exercise is called ‘kacow’ but apparently it is Cat/Cow, which had me arching up the back with my chin planted on my chest, right there, I could feel my spine stretching, a completely unnatural move for me that resulted in a most glorious feeling. Just as I was falling in love with this move, the instruction came through to dip my belly, easier for me as gravity seems to have already impacted my belly. This time the coccyx, that tiny bone at the bottom of the spine was pushed out towards my feet and my chest rolled up towards the teacher, no hiding place on this one then. We repeated this four times and without even realising, I had completed my first ‘flow’ kacow (that is what I will always call it) was my new favourite move.
A series of stretches of arms and shoulders was next on the agenda, again, slow and conscious movements, with the stretch happening on the exhale breath.
Up into table top, great, we get fed… no such luck. Table top is simply on all fours. Again, alignment is key, wrists directly below your shoulders, knees below your hips, feet hip width apart… it all seemed a little over the top but it did make me realise that naturally when I go onto all fours, my default position is very different. Up onto our feet for the first time, that ‘grounding’ instruction came across, the souls of my feet feeling the ground came into my consciousness without me even trying, how odd.
I was reminded again that it is not a race, to take time and get myself aligned…
The block, which now seemed to be wedged permanently between my thighs was part of the next movement too. Knees bent, the idea was to collapse like a floppy doll, arms dangling, palms on the floor. Another completely odd movement that strangely pleasurable. Up into mountain pose, which is simply standing up straight, something I realise that none of us newbies actually do… I swear that Josie can read minds, I was reminded again that it is not a race, to take time and get myself aligned, hips directly over ankles, shoulders over hips, tall and proud.
Despite there being 8 in the class, Josie found time for all of us, help with positioning, a kind word of confirmation, a tap of congratulations when the pose came out something like it was meant to be. These little touches meant so much, but for her, seemed to come so naturally.
Shavasna this week included a forehead massage with bergamot, lavender and orange oil, something I would employ somebody to do to me all day, if I was rich. Thoughts seem to float in to my head but they were all yoga related… ‘just be’ Josie said, something I now realise that everyone deserves to experience.
Another lesson where my mind had not wandered… in every day life my mind races constantly, so deep down, I knew I had to carry on with this journey because it was more than just a physical exercise. It was ‘me time’ I had found my ‘thing’.
Namaste. (I will tell you all about the meaning of this next week).