Sunday, 29 May 2011

What are you looking at?

When we first learn ashtanga, one of the things we are told is that this practice can be boiled down to these things: breath, bandhas and drishti.

The breathing can be difficult for some people to master at first. To find the strength of ujjayi breathing without forcing it; to always move with the breath. I was taught well as a beginner, so this was one of the foundations of my practice. Still, there are days when my breath is ragged, or it catches in my throat, or I feel myself having to "stop" and take a deep breath into my belly, but generally speaking I think I can say: breath? Tick.

Bandhas are a trickier one. I was told in my first weeks of practice that it takes seven years to learn to use them. Hurrah! I thought, that's me off the hook, I don't have to try! But of course that's not the case, we are supposed to diligently try try and try until one day this will start to make sense. It hasn't come as a lightbulb moment for me, or rather I should say not one lightbulb moment, but a sequence of them, but over maybe the past few months, two years into my ashtanga journey, I have started to find that activation , and to feel the effect it has on various places in my practice. The funny thing is that it seems to appear of it's own volition as I stand in tadasana preparing to take my hands into prayer and begin the chant. And sometimes it just doesn't appear, and that's OK too, but on the days when it floats in during tadasana, I know I can rely on it to be present in a patchy way at least throughout my practice. Anything where the pelvis is open it feels incredibly hard to engage, I suppose this is where it will be easier once I can learn to keep it engaged throughout, rather than having to remember once I am in the asana, and trying to find it again. But it's coming.

Drishti is an interesting one, because at first I thought it was simple - just look where you're told to look. In most asanas (with a few exceptions) remembering the drishti was a bigger challenge at first than actually doing it. But maintaining drishti actually within each asana is one thing (look at your hand, tip of the nose, over your shoulder - how hard can it be?), but what about through the vinyasas? And in surya namaskar A and B? When shalamate SY taught our led class shortly before Cary came back from maternity leave (and I should point out, it was the first time she'd ever done such a thing and she did a GREAT job!), before we began she spoke briefly about drishti. She talked about using nasagrai drishti in upward dog, and focussing on the moments of awareness where we are fully present in the moment, and asking us to notice those moments so that in time they could be expanded throughout the practice (I'm paraphrasing and probably getting that completely wrong). But her reminder helped me, in that it made me aware that I was already very diligent in keeping my focus on the tip of my nose as I came into upward dog. Gold star for Mel! But I said to her afterwards that for me, the point where it all goes hazy is going into downward dog. For me, my practice begins like this:
Ekam: Raise the arms overhead, look to the thumbs.
Dve: Fold forward on the exhale into standing forward bend.
Trini: raise the head, looking at the tip of the nose
Catvari: jump back into chaturanga, looking - slightly ahead? Never sure if that's correct
Panaca: up into upward dog, drishti fixed very firmly on the tip of the nose
Sat: ahhhh....this is where it all falls apart. For some reason, rolling over the toes and back into downward dog, my drishti goes a bit swimmy, I lose the focus, and as I go back into downdog with it's uncertain gaze-point I frequently take the opportunity (completely unconsciously, most of the time) to see who just came in the room, to glance at the clock, to see who the assistant is today.
In other words, a total drishti violation! Somebody call the ashtanga police!

video
Swimmy drishti...not that you can see it in the clip.
A few suryas from my trip to Yoga Thailand last October (that's me in the purple) with Clayton Horton. Vanity requires that I say I think my practice has changed a lot since then ;)

So one day this week, it occurred to me to try and hold nasagrai drishti from upward dog, right through the transition into downdog and see if I could manage it. I'll admit, the first few times I tried it, I felt literally sea-sick and thought "oh well, at least I tried." But then I carried on, and held the drishti through every surya, through every vinyasa, and found that the swimmy feeling was gone, as was the queasy feeling from my first few attempts. So the next day I did it again, and I managed to maintain my drishti through surya namaskar A and B (actually, B is a little trickier what with all of that lungey business, but I did my best), as well as through every vinyasa, and the results of this minor alteration to my practice have been quite incredible.
For starters, I realised just how much I glance around during my practice. Those who practice with me can vouch that I am not one of those people who constantly stops and looks round the room (right Susan?) but it's true I am generally aware of who's there. who got new poses, who fell on their head, who broke the rules...and this level of assessment and judgement of the room affects my practice, and it something I am working on getting over (or I WANT to work on it, but can't seem to figure out how); after all, yoga helps us to become more self-aware, meaning that we don't necessarily stop doing things that are wrong - it just means we notice them more! Keeping that firm focus through the sun salutations leads to a practice which is 100% more focussed than in the past - if not more so. The impact is nothing short of phenomenal. 
I've also been surprised to realise that I haven't been keeping the vinyasa to one breath per movement until now. Somehow my transition back into downdog stretches out over a number of breaths, even in a vinyasa where I should inhale to up dog, exhale downward dog, inhale jump forward, this has been s-t-r-u-n-g out as I fiddle and faff with my feet, or kick my rumpled up towel flat, or - I don't even know how or why, but it's just something I noticed as I learned to maintain the drishti. And having becoming aware of it, I am now doing my best to maintain the rhythm of breath with movement.
An added fringe benefit which I'll admit surprises me is that it seems to be helping my jumping forwards. I am working on this as Kino teaches it, to jump as far through the hands as you can with legs crossed, then instead of giving up, sitting down or planting the feet, to keep your bum lifted off the mat whilst wriggling until the feet go right through to straight legs. Having accidentally engaged my bandhas before jumping forward the other week I felt like I'd found the magic key to get the feet further through the hands (i know, I know; I've read it/been told it a thousand times, but I had to experience it for myself to understand it) but when you add the drishti? Somehow it helps even more! I don't fully understand why, but there is no doubt in my mind that it does, and my feet are now landing further through my hands than ever before, and I'm actually getting one foot right through on the initial jump a few times each day. 

So every day it becomes ever more clear to me how these three things work together: breath, bandhas and drishti. 

The challenge comes for me when I get to surya B which I have some issues with that my teacher keeps picking up on (and hence my mind starts to wander too when I get here) but I could happily do surya A all day and all night with perfect drishti and disappear into some some of sense-withdrawal wormhole. And then of course after an ease-to-maintain-focus padangustasana comes trikonasana and all that follows which seem to allow for a bit of looking where you are going, realigning the hips and feet, checking who your mat neighbour is and general loss of focus, so I suppose this is where my work will be next: how to maintain drishti and focus during the transitions between asana until eventually, maybe, I can maintain focus throughout my practice and not be so concerned about what is going on around me. And there was me thinking I had to actively work on not being so judgemental and scattered in my attention, when in actual fact all I had to do was come back to those three things:  breath, bandhas and drishti. 
 

Monday, 23 May 2011

The life and works of daydreamingmel

Once upon a time (not a million years ago) I worked in an office, and my days looked like this:

My very grey office of old.

Although working in fashion is supposed to be exciting, I was horribly bored a lot of the time. I wasn't being stretched, the work wasn't very fulfilling, and it was only liking my colleagues (and the lack of a suitable alternative) that kept me there for almost three years.

Then one day I found the perfect* job at a shiny happy company. I worked from home, and my new office looked like this:
*Note to self: there is no such thing as the perfect job: idolising anything without having tried it first is a BAD THING. But if you've been reading for a while, you'll already know this. Anyway, back to the story. My office looked like this...
My home office, it wasn't usually this tidy though!
 Or some mornings THIS was my office:

A patch of sunshine in my favourite cafe
 Or actually more like this:

Sunny Kensington High Street

The best time of day - a Winter sunset

Easily one of my favourite buildings in London
After years as a battery hen, I was free-range! I saw so many beautiful autumnal sunsets, I spent a night in Brighton and dropped in to a shala there, I fell in love with bits of London I'd never been to before, I learned not to be quite so terrified by driving my car as I watched the great British countryside roll by....

But it wasn't enough. 

And at the end of March I found myself out of work (I've written a LOT more about this in earlier posts in case you want the full story...), having come to the realisation that I wanted something different out of my work. And now, at almost the end of May, I am even more free-range than ever before. Put simply, I haven't earned any money in a while. But a few interesting things have been happening.
The first is that I did NOT have a freakout. Of course, I had moments of "ohmygodwhatamigoingtodo??", it's only natural to have a few of those. But what didn't happen was a total panicked meltdown. I just had faith that something would come up. This was massively helped by the phonecall I got just hours after the meeting which terminated my contract, asking me to work on a freelance sales basis for a small childrenswear brand my friend used to work for. This took a while to set up, and whilst I am officially doing it now, it's a bit of an in-between time in terms of selling, so there's not a huge amount I can do. And as I work on a commission-only basis, there's nobody calling and demanding to know how many customers I saw this week (good job too, as the answer is: not that many!). But knowing that I at least had the prospect of something only hours after losing my job definitely helped me to keep the faith.

The most interesting thing I have found is that the open-minded approach I found in Goa (where I started to believe that if I wanted to, I really could do ANYTHING - and there's no such thing as a bad idea) has stayed with me. I have come up with some pretty mad-cap ideas (even by my standards) but I have allowed these ideas to flow without judgement, and I have understood that each of these ideas or thoughts is part of a larger process. Take this as an example: one day I heard a rumour that the lease was about to expire on our shala. After the initial panic that it was about to close down, my brain went into a total mad spin where I decided that I could take it on (I told you it was mad!) and I started to make a plan to try and find out the full story. Meanwhile, I decided that if I was going to try such a thing, I really should get some experience and offer to take on some of the volunteer shifts at the shala in exchange for classes. Meanwhile, I found out that the lease story was completely untrue, and was just told to somebody who was complaining about something with regards to the shala and was told it to keep them from moaning (but then they started talking to other people about it). It was just a red herring! But instead of being disappointed I decided to press on with my plan to volunteer, but to do it at a different yoga centre instead which offered more classes (and which I go to from time to time and fork out for said other classes - kirtan, namely!). And what should happen the very day I plan to seek out the contact details to send in my CV? The yoga centre in question advertises for new front of house staff, and I decide that I may as well apply to earn actual money instead of just free classes.
And guess what happened? Yep, I start in 2 weeks time. AND it fits in well with the kidswear sales job, which seems to be evolving into something of a (cough,cough - unpaid - for now at least) consultancy role, which is like the job I had for 5 years and LOVED (before the grey days of the fashion office) and is really getting my creative juices flowing. So my days unfold like this: I get up for practice, a little later than I would if I had to be somewhere, then I either head home afterwards for breakfast and chill out for the day, or I go and see some customers or potential customers after breakfast in my favourite cafe, before coming home to do some baking, sewing, blog-reading or - well, whatever I fancy doing really (which generally involves anything except cleaning the flat or writing this blog). It's a tough life :)

Another way that I'm following my gut (though maybe it's crazy) is that next weekend I am heading off to Dublin to practice with Peter Sanson who I met in London last month. When I met him I just had the strongest feeling that I HAD to go, so I put some things on ebay and bit the bullet and booked it. I'm not saying that I think my life will change as a consequence of going to Ireland, but I just had an strong feeling (stronger than just that I want to go!) that I should go, so I'm going. After all, my instincts seem to be pretty trustworthy at the moment.
I am also putting this into perspective. Two months without (much) work seems like an awfully long time on the one hand, but on the other hand it is an absolute luxury, and in years to come I'm sure I will look back on this time with great fondness and gratitude that it happened at all. And whilst I am still having the occasional moment where I wonder how I'm going to pay my car tax or my credit card bill, I have to just keep having faith that these things will work themselves out. Because afterall without faith, what have we got? 



Monday, 2 May 2011

MIA and total inspiration.

I know, I know...the bujapidasana bootcamp post I promised never came. And yes, I have pages of notes from my 2 weeks with tim & Kino (which when I read I think "wow! I'm so glad I wrote that down as I don't remember hearing it!"). And yes, my last post was all "woe is me I've got an in injury and feel like crap" but that feeling lasted half a day and lately I've been feeling pretty fabulous about my practice & life in general. But I have to just bash out an off-the-cuff as-it-happened post right now.
Bujapidasana bootcamp teaser...
Being a bank holiday weekend, and our teacher not really back from maternity leave, our shala was closed today, so several of my shala-mates were suggesting different options of where to practice (having a lie-in NOT being an option, especially as tomorrow is the moon day here). Although we are about to lose one of our 2 certified teachers in London and I've yet to visit the one who is leaving, I didn't feel a strong draw to go and try her out. Several reasons really; firstly I feel like I have had a LOT of different teachers lately. Tim and Kino, both fabulous, but both different to each-other, and to my normal teacher, then coming back to London we had two teachers covering C's maternity leave. The first I liked on a personal level but didn't click with the teaching at ALL, the second was returning having taught us all last summer and I lovelovelove. But with another few weeks until C returns fully we have a fabulous shalamate covering the next few weeks, and I already feel like I am entering the flip-out zone of needing to stick with people I know (the shalamate currently assists and is fabulous, so this isn't an issue). But going just for one day to visit yet another different teacher? Nah. Overkill says my brain.
Plus, I seem to have entered a new zone of practice. I don't know if this is because the lower back pain has temporarily suspended my work on dropbacks (I'm just seeing how I feel each day, but generally if I feel it in urdhva dhanurasana, then no dropping back that day), or if it's to do with having now been doing full primary for 5 months or so. But I have gone into this inward focused, deeeeep and amazing version of practice. On any given day I may become completely obsessed with my TOES. Imagine an alien (or a baby maybe) discovering toes for the first time - I notice them as I roll over them, I feel this amazing connection, I put the energy there and just trip out on it. Another day it was keeping my legs engaged and lifted in every posture, especially in upward dog and maintaining the lift in my thighs, and discovering the difference it made to jumping forward. Another day (actually, every day to an extent) it was finding the lift in mula bandha, realising that forward bends come from there and not the hamstrings at all. Point is, I feel like I am surrounded with AHA! moments and profound realisations of the connections my body is making with itself, with the mat, with my mind...and going deeper and deeper inwards, realising (most importantly) that whether or not I drop back, move on, or whatever it is matters not one bit. I have my whole life for this.

So it was with this in mind that I decided to go instead to my lovely former evening teacher R on my travelling ashtangi day - not a new teacher,I reasoned, and I love to get back to her if ever I can. Then yesterday I remembered that she was hosting a workshop which I had originally been incredibly excited about; Peter Sanson, an old-school certified teacher from New Zealand was going to be teaching 4 days of mysore practice in a very low-key venue over the long weekend. I had whooped with excitement when I heard he was coming, having heard amazing things about him from my Yoga Thailand roomie, but as the time grew closer (and my employment status being what it is - ie I still don't have a job) plus this clashing with C's planned return from maternity leave, I "sensibly" opted not to book a place. Fast forward to yesterday, and lovely friend J encouraged me to text the teacher and ask if she was teaching in the evening as usual. The reply came straight back: no, but there's space on the workshop if you want to come. So what could I say but yes please and I'll see you there?! She asked me to come at 10am, so even better, I got to sleep in, take a salt bath and do some bed-hanging before I set off across London.

So after a restful and relaxed start, I arrived, changed and walked into a very full room, hesitating as to where to lay my mat. As both Peter and R were busy I found a corner to tuck my bag in only to realise that the person I'd put it in front of was an old friend who I met in India last January! She flashed me a big smile, I blew her a kiss, and walked back to find somewhere to practice. Peter walked towards me, took my mat from me, loudly said to a guy in the front row "Swami! You move!" then sort of gave the girl to his right a little kick to get her to move over and unrolled my mat for me - the wrong way up. I was at this point more than a little daunted, I have to say. But there was my spot, right up front, so I got going. Feeling rather shaky I decided not to chant aloud (I always do, no matter what else is going on in the room) but stood with my hands in prayer so thrown that I couldn't even remember the chant. But the anxiety dissipated quickly enough. Peter commanded the room verbally, but not in a distracting way at all. No, it was in a way that made me feel that even if I received not one adjustment, a combination of his energy, the group energy, and the things he said would have led to a transformational practice. "Breathing, no straining; breathing" he said in his thick kiwi accent, tinged with the Indian lilt of one who has spent many many years in Mysore. "Swami, you wait for me", "See, it's easy, you make it so complicated, everybody does!" to the lady doing kapotasana,  "oh so good - good! He is too good, no?" with the unaffected indian twang to R and then back to walking around the room, saying seemingly to us all "breathing, breathing, don't lose the connection with the breath, no straining". Meanwhile I was working my way through my surya namaskar with a huge smile on my face, trying not to allow the thought of "why didn't I do the whole weekend? this is amazing!" to take over my thoughts.

There was something seriously magical happening in that room that it isn't going to be possible to conjure up in words.
I can't remember where I was up to in my practice when he stood in front of me and just put his hand and my back and made some sort of affirmative comment, then the same thing again a little later. I love this, it's a bit like being patted on the head (a la Tim Feldman) but it tells you that they are here, and somehow from the right teacher even that small gesture of laying on hands does something for you. I got the beginning of my first adjustment in UHP, but he asked R to come and take over as he looked after a conveyer-belt of Marichyasana bindings, funnily enough he bossed her about in a forceful way "Here! this one! Now!" but the energy certainly wasn't bossy, or strict, it was just...oh I don't know, amaaaazing. This is probably getting a little tired, me just raving about him but unable to tell you why...

Anyhoo, having been asked to come and start at 10am when the start-time was 9, while I was still on my standing asanas I realised that many people seemed to be finishing (or close to it). Then somebody left, and was asked were they not staying for the talk? And I heard "Five minutes" and started to panic. It was just before 11am and on my usual schedule I had about another hour of my practice still to run, but were we finishing up in 5 minutes? But 11.00 came and went, and people were still practicing, though as I began my seated asanas I heard Peter telling several people who I knew (or sensed) usually practiced full primary to stop and go onto backbending even though they had only got to navasana (or maybe a little further). So then I had the fear that either he was going to tell me to stop, or that I was going to run out of time, but either way that I wouldn't finish my practice and get to do backbending. But then given my new "I've got my whole life" take on practice, the answer to that of course is "so what?". It was actually kind of funny though, after adjusting two girls to my right in Mari D he told them both to do backbending, One obliged, the other went in search of the water bottle and did garbha pindasana. As she was in kukkutasana he came and stood in front of her and said "What happened? I said backbending! nice try!" but make no mistake, the spirit in which he was stopping people, and calling them out was on the basis that as he said to these two girls "You ran out of steam. Whatever energy you have left, reserve it for your backbending". Why should it be seem as a judgement on your practice if somebody says that to you? I think we all have days like that, so maybe we'd do better to listen to them sometimes instead of forging on through come what may.
Inevitably as the room thinned out, and more and more people took savasana, I started to get more attention. In Mari D I took my wrist on each side and he came to me on the second side and said "You've really got that one, beautiful. Now, boat!". I carried on through my practice. As I reached kurmasana, I took a deep position, my legs squeezing the sides of my ribcage and chin on the floor, knowing that at R's shala, everyone gets adjusted in this pose. In the past I have rushed to put myself into supta k just to show that I can; today I knew not to. But here it started to get funny, he pulled my legs in, took one arm around and then I tried to get involved. No no, he says, wiggling my leg around, I'm trying to bend your leg, you trying to straighten it - so of course what I had to do was just surrender and be adjusted. My left leg was hooked behind my neck "Oh, you love this one here" he said - which, given that I have been trying to figure out how to hook my left leg behind my neck from the floor (though everyone tells me it's barely possible) was interesting. My right leg flipped on top, he told me to take the right arm around, and then he got onto me about tension in my hands, shoulders and breath. The thing is, when you try and try to get something like the bind in supta kurmasana (even though I've been doing it now since last summer, there is still effort involved) you may not even realise there is tension there. But he wiggled my arm, made me loosen up, then told me to breathe: "No: full DEEP breaths...breathing" and I became aware that my breath was a little shallow, and very shaky. I watched it, it deepened it, I smoothed it out. "Now hands to the front," and I brought my hands forward, trying desperately not to slip on the insanely ice-rink like floor (this is not a dedicated yoga room, and every inch of the floor was a skid-pan) and then with his support, I lifted up in dwi pada (first time in - err, practically forever), then went through tittibasana, bakasana and just about jumped back into chaturanga, finishing with my head between his legs. We had a giggle and then he told me to take lotus, so without vinyasa I went into garbha p, he stood in front of me as I sprayed my arms and got into it, super-deep with my hands firmly on my chin and my ears closed with my middle fingers before he walked away and left me to it. 
In baddha konasana my head was wriggled about like a rag doll. "Too much tension! Let it go! What is this right shoulder doing? so tense here, let go, let go" (more head wiggling, right shoulder poking) - apparently the left shoulder was behaving, but the right one wasn't. I hung out there for a very long time, not really sure if I was being adjusted in A or B (it started as A and sort of became B I think) but it seems that my method of using the elbows to push the thigh down, which I think was as I was taught, was introducing too much tension on my right side. I can't remember now, but I think it was in supta k that the tension was also evident on my right side, so now he had started to notice a pattern. I was instructed to go to upavishta  next despite the fact that nobody else in the room was still practicing now, and they were starting to file in and sit ready for the talk. Maximum last-one-left-practicing-anxiety captain!

After supta padangustasana he came to me and said "do backbending now - take chakrasana" and I thought uh-oh, here we go. Chakrasana FAIL! I go through phases with including or excluding chakrasana attempts in my practice. I know the theory, and I have been helped with it by lots of different teachers, but the fact remains that on my own I just don't get it. But with Peter standing at the top of my mat I put my hands back, took my legs over, and stopped. No no no he says, you're making this too complicated - move over and I'll show you. Take hands and legs over together - haven't you seen how a child does it? And he rocked back and forth a few times to show me, hands and legs going together and knees remaining bent ("while you learn"). My turn. Somehow I managed to bash my cheek-bone with my knee at one point, but he had me do it again and again without attempting to flip, just the action of hands and legs together. Then finally he came and helped me go over, and I landed able to see how you could hop straight into chaturanga from the landing. Replicating this will of course be another matter, but I am definitely going to practice that rolling action of both hands and legs together.
Part of my reservation about going to a different teacher today (initially) was that to feel I had my moneys-worth, I would want to be dropping back, whether my back was screaming at me in pain or not. I know, I know..but sometimes these thoughts are there and we have to acknowledge them. But the lovely thing about having run out of time to finish my practice today meant that this wasn't an option. And given that by now everybody was finished, I took all of the prescribed five (FIVE!) urdhva dhanurasana with absolute focus of one on one assistance from Peter and it was completely amazing. I have often been told by my normal teacher "Heels out mel!" and last month in a vinyasa class I experienced an assisted backbend with completely parallel feet and realised what a huge difference it makes. But I haven't managed to replicate it, and clearly haven't lost the habit - but with C on maternity leave, I haven't been reminded for two months. What Peter pointed out is that by turning my left heel out, my right shoulder is having to do all of the work. Lightbulb moment! Tension in my right shoulder all through my practice, and then in my backbends it is being put under extra strain because of my wonky feet! I should point out that I didn't make this connection myself, he did - but as he moved my left foot, and took my hands wider, I went up into UD and it felt completely different. He stayed with me, moving me further over my shoulders and watching my feet in all 5 backbends, then adjusted me in paschimatomasana, telling me again to watch the tension in my right shoulder, and actually not to hold my fingers at all (my approximation of taking the wrist) but to take the sides of the feet instead, and take the elbows out wide. Again, completely different!

Baddha padmasana in Goa
I was instructed to take a shortened closing (as now it was coming up for 11.30, the planned time for the talk) without headstand, and told to take lotus but not to hurry the closing three postures. So I took baddha padmasana, then a few breaths in padmasana and utipluthi, figuring I'd rather take a slightly longer savasana. As I prepared to jump back from lotus Peter came over and asked if I'd done padmasana yet, I said I'd done it quickly as I was worried about everyone waiting. He told me to take my time, no hurry, and then - and I've never had a teacher do this with me before - he sat in front of me, softened my arms and my hands in the mudra, and then talked me through taking full deep breaths. It was such a beautiful thing; by this stage my breath can be a bot wobbly and uneven, but there's nothing like having a teacher sit and breathe with you to make you aware that it is, and to smooth it out, not to mention the fact that he was taking this time with me while everyone else was already long since finished and done. Utipluthi again he sat in front of me, told me to lift from the bandhas not the arms, and to breathe a little more quickly - I got off lightly with 10 breaths as I'd heard him tell some of the guys to take 25 or even 50, telling them that if you lift from mula bandha (well, he said "here" and I couldn't see him, so I'm assuming) that any number of breaths is possible, telling me that it was beautiful, that I'd done really well, that he was so pleased with me, and now to take rest.

And then shortly afterwards he spoke, just for a short while, and I felt still, and calm, and utterly tranquil. Everything he said made perfect sense, and was mainly focussed on breathing. Meditation not necessary when you have this practice, he said. All limbs of yoga are contained in this practice, he said. Pranayama begins when you take your first breath each day, he said. And I sat, unmoving, and listened, taking his words as my savasana, feeling the spirit of Guruji trasmitted directly through this man who studied with him so long often one to one; from arriving in Mysore as a complete beginner, to gaining an advance B teaching certificate. The added lovely surprise of connecting with an old friend meant that I took up the offer to join Peter, R and some of the others over tea and cake (well, it was only me eating cake...) and spent a wonderful few hours sitting in a nearby cafe having the chance to chat to both teachers, some of the other practitioners, and my friend. And immediately that i got home, I started thinking about what I could sell so that I can go and join Peter on one of the other dates of his European tour.

I'll end this stream of conscience post with the words Peter finished with today, which he also quoted in the Guruji book:
"There is one thing that Guruji said that really stuck with me through the years. He pointed to his heart and said, 'There is a small box sitting here. It is Atman. Turn your attention here. That is yoga.' I will never forget that." And he repeated today, "God is right here, in your heart. Concentrate here. That is yoga."

Peace out. Workshop LOVE!!