It’s been a little over a year since I left Brisbane. This past year I’ve lived on the famed North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, for two months, on the north coast of Tasmania for over a month, in Sydney for a month, on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for three plus months, on Waiheke Island in New Zealand for two months, and smatterings of in between times in Brisbane. Then it was back to Honolulu for a month, including the Solstice, Christmas and New Year. Now, I’m on the Pacific Coast of Mexico for a month.
Each place, I’ve toted my yoga gear with me. Pared down yoga gear, of course, but always the minimum of mat, three straps, three blocks, at least one blanket (I can always find other blanket substitutes in my accomodation). On the Sunnie Coast, on Waiheke, in Sydney and Brissie I had the luxury of a yoga chair, one foam and two wooden wedges, a wooden dowel and two extra proper yoga blankets. There’s usually been a wall, sometimes helpful stairs, and often a wonderful deck railing to use as well.
Sometimes there’s been idyllic and inspiring locations in our accomodation; Waiheke had a wonderful loft with views like the Greek Islands, or, in Coolum, a large bathroom (yep) with various sturdily embedded heavy duty railings was superb for penetrative precision, a place for straps (“ropes”), and well spaced opposing walls for half handstand. You can do a lot in a well, and safely equipped, bathroom!
So, you’d think my Practice would have flourished. Wouldn’t you?
I could be dramatic and say “da nada”, but (thankfully!!), that’s not true either.
For my body asks otherwise; Blessed be.
I have been practicing yoga since I was four years old. Most days of my life, in fact, although not as a consistent, conscious, several-hours-a-day Practice until I was about ten. And, not the exquisite beauty that is Iyengar Yoga until I was in my early twenties. Yet, listening to, and exploring sensation in my body, has been my communion with myself for pretty much my whole life. Through dance and through Yoga, and always, through the holy sacrament of embodiment. A trendy word these days, but, a living searing pulsating reality for me for five and a half decades.
So what happened this year? Where did my Practice go? Where did I go!?
Practice, an activity that one undertakes as one imbibes air or other essential nourishment, is, for me, an intensely personal experience. Private, even; intimate. I could perhaps add: isolated. As an only child, and later, in a three and a half decade marriage where I was alone a lot, I didn’t realise how isolating the experience of Practice could be.
Sure, I’ve attended a great many yoga classes, and, of course, undertaken a long and rigorous Iyengar Teacher Training together with long apprenticeship. I’ve participated in a great many workshops and professional developments. Heck, I even taught many times in these gatherings of kindred spirits; blessed work that took me from New Zealand, to New York City and throughout Europe. And it filled me with joy and with gratitude.
But. The Practice itself. Solo. Alone. Breath by breath, asana by asana, sensation by sensation, conscious moment by conscious moment. On my mat, in my body. With my self.
By My Self.
And this year? I joined an Other. An Other who demanded I expand and include....well, an Other!
I could have practiced. I could have rolled out my mat, and sweated my way through my beloved standing poses, or laid in deeply replenishing restoratives. But, I watched myself feeling shy. Well, “shy” is what I told myself. And “shy” was true. But it was also Intimidated. I’m embarrassed to admit this. As if it is some deep character failing. I found it challenging, exposing, and vulnerable to practice in a shared space. I felt slightly ridiculous.
Sometimes, there was a practical element to this.
I take up a lot of space when I practice. Ask my Teacher, or, indeed, anyone who’s been beside me in class. It’s stuff everywhere! Props and my body and my ....consciousness.
Filling the space. Like the light on full bore. Potent and reverberatory.
Presence. Spirit. Soul. My Soul.
And, it felt naked. Unprotected.
Right now? I’m in the city of Mazatlán, on the west coast of Mexico, just opposite the tip of land that reaches down and forms the Bay of California. We are staying in the stunningly beautiful old part of town. And, I’ve begun to return to the prayer of Practice. Asking my Other to go to his favourite cafe, or take a walk, for an hour at least. Often this is all I get.
I make it count.
Until next time,