I did a lot of self-practice at home over Saturday and Sunday as well as avoiding too many of those nice chokky eggs which always seem to be to hand at this time of year, so that I would be hopefully open and ready for today’s workshop with Leela Miller. I’m glad I did as it was hard work but very enjoyable. It’s the first time I have had the opportunity to practice with Leela, who has a very down to earth, sensible approach to practice.
The morning session was a Primary series class, but we began with Nauli stomach exercises, churning the stomach muscles, so they resembled a demented washing machine, couldn’t quite get the hang of it, but will keep trying. Now I have been introduced to this practice it may be a useful way of dealing with my demented guts, which drive me crazy for no apparent reason. The next couple of hours followed the usual pattern, but with plenty of advice about the postures and being reminded to be happy where we are in our practice. We only got up to Navasana, before the break, though with the Savasana it still meant a 2.5-hour practice. In Savasana Leela got us to get down gently and keep our knees bent until our abdomen and backs were relaxed before straightening them. I really enjoyed the Savasana, staying connected and loving the orange glow in front of my eyes as the sunshine came through the skylights.
During the break as well as eating something I went round the corner to Hamley’s toyshop on Regent Street, I have not been in there since I was a kid.
The first afternoon practice carried on from the morning, but a lot more technicality, we started with Handstand, which were some of the best ones I have done, with Leela telling me to engage my legs more, even managed about 3 seconds away from the wall. We then tried forearm balance, that’s surprisingly harder than handstand, especially getting up into it and its hard not to sink down. Headstand was a revelation, it was great to have a teacher take the time to explain getting into it and the dynamics involved in doing it. A real Yeeeeeeessssssssssss moment when for the first time ever I did it without a strap around my arms and was able to do it without a wall, it was worth doing the workshop just to have the joy of making this posture suddenly work. Backbends are always hard, I have been working on them a lot lately, especially after getting some advice from Yoga Chickie. We started with Ustrasana, but instead of being allowed to drop back, we did the posture with our stomachs against the wall and had to keep them there as we went backward. That’s a whole new ball game, but after a couple of goes I found the easiest way was to go back and then bring my stomach back to the wall while holding my ankles. That was the preparation for Urdhva Dhanurasana. Instead of just doing it, Leela got us into threes, one lays on the mat while the other two hold straps placed at the bottom of the sacrum and 2/3 way up the back and use their knees to hold in the elbows and knees, then you go up into it. Wow that was good, didn’t feel like any Urdhva Dhanurasana I had done before. After we had all had a go did the usual backbend and I have to say it’s the best one I have ever done, arms almost straight, weight distributed fairly evenly, it didn’t seem to take half the effort that is normally involved.
The final session was a discusion and question and answer, then Pranayama, which was quite intense, I could feel the heat inside me, just in the 20 minutes or so. I’m sure it must be cleansing as it burns away all the impurities, it still amazes me that something as simple as the breath can be so dynamic.
We worked hard today, but it was very enjoyable and I’m sure all who took part took away something from Leela’s teaching and insight, I know I did, but now I deserve that chocolate egg.