As the words of a soccer chant go. 4pm outta that hell hole, run to the station scattering quacking ducks, all the trains are on time, that’s a good start. Balham is not the most selubrius part of south London, but if that’s where I have to go to enjoy the best practice in the capital with one of the best teachers, then so be it, maybe I should get a hoodie disguise so I blend in a bit more. I was early so followed my multimap.com print hoping to locate the new shala while it was still light, found the little Mews ( A mews is where houses once had stables underneath and living space above), but could not find the place despite a couple of cooks from the Indian restaurant trying to help. This left no time for my usual tea and kitkat ritual, so just had the kitkat. I planned to hang around on the corner, waiting for people with yoga mats to arrive, who may know the place, but when I returned I saw that I had been looking on the wrong side, presuming all the even numbers would be on the same side, but Easter had opened up and despite the dark I saw the orange sign that has made the journey from the old place in Clapham.
The new place is much smaller, but cosy and warm. I parked my mat by a radiator in the corner and warmed up, trying not to dirty the walls doing handstands. The Buddha’s are there still watching over us and one by one familiar faces arrived and one new one, the more the better. It was sooo good to be standing at the end of my mat chanting the opening mantra, as soon as we chant and start to practice all the crap goes away, I am where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing, with a bunch of really nice people. I really enjoyed the lateral stretch adjustment in Downward dog, I love that sensation of opening up the body, space appearing, mentally as well as physically. The standing postures seemed to be done in no time at all, I was absorbed, no thoughts interupted me.
Seated started well as I quite unexpectedly found that I could actually grab my toe in Arda Badha Paschimottanasana, cannot remember the last time that happened, I was adjusted in Triang Mukha as well, I actually like being adjusted in this posture now. It used to be a posture I found horribly uncomfortable, my foot used to hurt as it pressed into the floor and I couldn’t find my sit bones, now with Easter’s help my weight is better distributed, so that I can go forward evenly and stretch out. Mari A,B & C were deep and good, I really like these 3 postures, but alas my D was the worst it has been all week. It started badly as when I was getting my foot into lotus I rocked back and cracked my head on the radiator, I said I was ok, but was not really, but I was not going to miss having a go at Mari D, but I couldn’t get my arm around my knee on either side. I need time to set up this posture, which is I think why I was able to do it in Bali doing Mysore style all the time. Bujapidasana was ok, but Kurmasana and Supta K were not great. Badha Konasana is getting there, I don’t feel as trapped and stuck, Upavistha and Supta Konasana are also improving. The floor at the new place despite being wood seems to have much less give in it than the old place, so with my bony back and sides Supta Padangusthasana was painful again. The “Bum balances” Ubhaya and Urdva Mukha were not good tonight, but at least I seem well on the way to being able to wrap my arms around my legs when in Lotus in Shoulder stand.
The time just went, practice was over though I am sure that was more than 10 breaths in Uth Plutihi, Easter has us work and engage until the end. I enjoy the closing chant, no need for call and response as we all know it and join in, the room filled with that joyful sound, before one last vinyasa and Savasana.
The new place is going to take some getting used to, not least the journey to get there etc. The old place was my practices home, I am sure in time if we can continue to find four people to get this practice to happen every Friday night, this cosy little room will begin to feel welcoming and hopefully my practice will once again begin to grow and expand.
The trains home were on time too, but as I type I am trying to dry out as a rain deluge was waiting at this end, I am saturated, but just so glad that I went to practice and was able to give body and mind that special time and space it needs.