This week was the last week of yoga classes before Easter. We return Wednesday 11 April and Friday 13 April for a 7 week term: Details for next term
The Friday classes follow a similar asana practice to the other classes but with less explanation. Also, due to the time of day and shorter duration we did not work with maha mudra and krama.
This is my perception of our practice this term which I hope will resonate with your experience. I started off with a plan to prepare the breath for full Spring after Easter, particularly the inhale. We worked with a krama during the inhale in some of the asana (postures). Vinyasa krama underpins the yoga tradition we follow (vinyasa = special place; krama = steps).
We start our practice where we are and look towards a certain goal. Then we choose the steps that will lead us toward realising that goal and will gradually bring us back into our everyday life. But our daily practice does not return us to the exact place we started. The practice has changed us.
TKV Desikachar, Heart of Yoga
Using the idea of krama on the inhale, allowed us to experience how we habitually inhale. Often the inhale is shallow and incomplete before we begin to exhale. Bringing awareness to our pattern of practice can facilitate a change and inform our relationship with whatever we are focusing on.
Within the practice was maha mudra, the great seal. As I watched you work with maha mudra I realised the need to connect more deeply to the supports within the body not
just the idea of the inhale travelling up the spine. You very generously followed me into the world of bandhas. The exhale is required to work with these deeper centres of the body to enable the forward flexion, twist and extension of the upper back required to be maha mudra.
A mudra (seal) is generally static with a neutral spine; it is seen as sealing prana (life force) in the body as well as sealing the attention. Bandhas (bond/bondage) are a type of mudra that bind the mind or consciousness to a certain place (desa). Mudras and bandhas are not something I have much experience with. But here we were … in them … unchartered territory for me as a teacher and practitioner. Working with you as engaged students, the questions began. What was meant to be a short term with connection to the inhale, quickly became a steep learning curve and just trusting the experience.
I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks reflecting on this term and when we return in April I will have some ideas to work through with you and continue our discussions. Maha mudra feels important both from the point of physical strength and flexibility but also focusing the mind. My first reflection is that sometimes I believe I’m on a particular journey only to find I’m going in a different direction, pulled by intuition and enquiry. When we were closing at the end of last year’s Dartmoor retreat, we all left something behind. Mine was the idea of control … I think I’ve managed that!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the term and be assured your inhale is in a good place for Spring. Although classes are on a break, I am available for individual yoga lessons and therapy appointments.