I was going to go and read a book in the bath, but it started to rain so I thought I would write something for my blog instead. It’s been a while! A lot has happened. I’ll maybe blog about some of that later.
I am on a yoga retreat. I needed a break. Oh boy did I need a break! So my kind husband has taken the week off work to look after the kids and I have booked myself onto this yoga retreat. I did a little bit of research (well a lot actually – I’m not sure I can actually do just a little research!) and here I am – in the hills with an outdoor bath (hence postponing my reading until the rain stops), sauna and hot tub! I love water – especially hot water!
One thing I have learnt since being here is that I know nothing about yoga! I thought I knew a bit, having been to various drop-in classes over the last 10 years or so and done a few stretches while planning my shopping list, analysing my last conversation, rehearsing my next conversation and trying to hold in a fart, but it turns out yoga is more than a few stretches! So far this week I have looked at the moon, chanted, breathed, done sequences of postures and contemplated my navel (all without farting!) I am learning about myself as well as about yoga and all the amazing things it can bring if you stick to it.
It is an ashtanga yoga retreat. With a very well known and respected tutor in ashtanga circles whom I had never heard of! I’m quite glad about that as I might have got myself all nervous beforehand! It is quite a small retreat, there are only about 10 pupils. However I would say that many of them have some if not many autistic traits, so I feel very comfortable! Learning what I am about ashtanga yoga I am not really surprised.
I have never done ashtanga yoga before. I can’t say it really appealed from my very superficial knowledge of it – why would you want to do the same postures over and over again (even if you are autistic)? What did I know? Turns out ashtanga yoga is all about progressing through various postures, becoming more and more advanced, synchronising your breathing to the postures with the ultimate aim of having complete control of your own mind through this meditative practice. (A very simplistic summary, apologies to those more knowledgeable than me!)
There are a lot of things I’m taking with a pinch of salt (energy channels and internal fire) but also with an open mind. My medic head wants to discredit a lot of the psychobabble, but my more spiritual holistic heart is intrigued. I am reminding myself that yoga practice has been around for far longer than western medicine and even if the terms aren’t strictly anatomically or physiologically correct, the concepts may be useful. Energy channels or no energy channels there is something energising and purifying about this practice and I can’t wait to learn more!
I am still somewhat disconcerted about the chanting. I find it incredibly difficult to use my voice in public, speaking out, singing in front of anyone, even joining in an “oggy oggy oggy, oi, oi, oi” chant in a zumba class is really hard (any ideas why?) However I am joining in bit by bit and it really is beautiful to listen to. This will definitely be harder than the postures. Small steps.
It is surprisingly refreshing being “bottom” of the class, having always strived to be the best. As an almost total beginner in a class where everyone else is tying themselves up in knots while balancing on their hands and chanting in Sanskrit, I have no one to compete with or prove myself to. While ashtanga probably appeals to the competitive type A personalities the idea is that you work at your own pace, concerned only with your own practice.
I think ashtanga yoga is going to suit me. A structured repetitive practice, where practice does make perfect (well better anyway) with defined sequences of postures and breaths which need to be mastered before moving on to the next sequence. So there is the satisfaction gained when completing a sequence, but the knowledge that that is not the end, the next challenge is the next sequence and there will always be something new to master. A new special interest is brewing…..
The rain has stopped! I’m off for a bath!