Harmony Lichty @AshtangaBristol

A weekend away with like minded people who understand “why”, unlike my Muggle GP last week who seemed unable to get her head around it, but that’s another story.

Steamy led Primary (Picture credit Caroline)

Friday morning, day 1 for me, Led Primary with around 30 others. I haven’t done much led in the last few years, my shoulder takes too long to coerce in to postures like Mari D, Despite being able to do it and bind it Harmony had already passed “2” by the time I got there. She has an interesting assist in UHP, standing on the foot,,I’ve not had that one before. For me led primary is about tidying up the practice, I find it almost impossible to synchronise my breath with somebody else’s count, my shoulder has forced me to slow down too much. At least I can get myself in to Supta Kurmasana, that’s just fun, though I know others wouldn’t agree. My Urdva Dhanurasana are rubbish in led, I just have to take my time. Sirsasana has been hit and miss after all the surgery, Harmony was kind enough to help me up, but once I’m up I’m stable enough.

Saturday, day 2. A different location down in the city which actually has it’s own “Banksy” on the wall outside. Mysore practice, which I’m much better at, in my time to my breath, I’m quite comfortable plodding through, but conscious of my relative slowness. Mostly left alone, which is fine. A sudden realisation that I was the only one doing intermediate, before realising that despite yesterday’s led primary maybe the locals knew the plan that some Shalas follow, of Saturday being a primary day, confused or what, but doing Salabhasana A & B helps what comes after. I didn’t do the rest of my 2nd up to Dhanurasana, that will have to be done tomorrow instead. Urdva Dhanurasana with my little back warm ups was much better, walking in more on each one, repeating the process again before standing for dropbacks. Tom from AYL was assisting, I’d sensed him watching and wondered why he hadn’t come over, turns out he thought I was waiting for Harmony as I’d come all the way to Bristol to practice with her. But he knows the plan, not to mention the history and I didn’t want to get cold, lovely assisted dropbacks. Hopefully Harmony will do them tomorrow instead.

So glad I didn’t ask that question

Saturday afternoon was an interesting Q&A preceded by Pranayama ,as expected backbends featured , that’s where I learned my more than 3 Urdva Dhanurasana and walking the hands in more experiments were the right thing to be doing, Harmony said maybe do 9 x UD walking the hands in before starting dropbacks or hanging back, this sends the message to the legs and front of the Pelvis. I, just glad I hadn’t asked the question, as whoever asked an asana question go to go the front and be demonstrated on, they only cared about standing up apparently!

Eka Pada reading exercise

A top tip secret that the “D” in Marichyasana D stand for “Diet” ha ha.

There were questions about Kapotasana, Eka and Dwi Pada and handstands, less relevant to me as I’m unlikely to need to worry about them in this lifetime!

Harmony talking Ayurveda and Philosophy

It felt strange to be at a weekend yoga workshop and not practice today, it always feels wrong not to practice on a Sunday. After a lazy morning Harmony gave 2 interesting talks in the afternoon. First one was on Ayurveda, the Doshas and their differences. I’d always assumed from the way people talk that you have one type of Dosha, but found we are made up of some of all of them, but one or two predominate, in my case Vata won, followed closely by Kapha with Pita lagging miles behind after ticking the boxes in her Dosha finder quiz.

I think Donald Trump must be Pita as some of their qualities were listed as oily , cutting and charismatic.

After a break for tea and vegan chocolate cake Harmony’s second talk was on Sadhana- Spiritual Discipline and Vairagya or non attachment. The practice of yoga having 3 parts;
Tapas – Heat, discipline, difficulty
Swadyaya – self study, seeing ourselves more clearly, studying texts.
Ishvara Pranidhana– Surrender to God or a higher power than ourselves

The Kleshas or 5 obstacles we need to overcome to reach enlightenment.
Avidya or Ignorance – our confusion about what is real
Asmita or Ego – our sense of a separate self, not being part of the whole.
Raga or Desire – our need to keep repeating experiences that are enjoyable.
Dvesha or Aversion – the desire to avoid things that bring pain or suffering.
Abhinivesha or Fear of death – which manifests as clinging on to things, not wanting change.

The practice of Ashtanga yoga over time will weaken our Kleshas and we will be less controlled by them. Though the Ashtangi’s coffee habit desire seems to be one Klesha that will never be broken, if Harmony needs her coffee what chance the rest of them, I say them as someone who doesn’t like coffee, I’m quite happy with my own tea and chocolate Klesha and aversion to anything green and leafy.


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