My teacher is based at a shala in London. I don't go often and so have a solitary 'Mysore style' practice at 5 am, 6 days a week. It's more a way of life than a discipline and it has taken years to get used to an early morning practice. I remember a teacher saying to me once that practising yoga at that time of the morning will soon become akin to brushing your teeth every day. I couldn't quite get it at that time, but after years of getting myself on the mat, regardless of how I felt, it truly has become just that.
I've never really found any other exercise that works alongside yoga, although I've tried, and agree hugely with the saying that there can only be one master. However, 5 years ago I started swimming and after just a few sessions, I realised it just worked. In fact I loved it; there's something really relaxing about being immersed in water and being a water/moon sign, it kind of makes sense that it resonated so much with me. Other exercise always seemed to work in opposition to yoga, but maybe because swimming is in a way an all over body activity, much like yoga, it worked with it. There were times when the swimming would increase and the yoga would suffer, bizarrely never the other way around, and after some time I found the balance with swimming 3 times a week. About 6 months ago though I started to get pain in my knee. Just subtle at first, but as the months wore on it started to affect my yoga practice. At times it was painful to bend my knee into Padmasana or crossing my legs jumping through in vinyasa. Was it swimming?
I banished the thought and continued, but ignorance was not bliss and the pain became more problematic. I sought the advice of a sports physio, who advised it wasn't in fact my knee but my sartorial muscle, where it becomes tendon close to my knee. My breaststroke leg action being the problem. In my usual 'Google fanatic' fashion I found solace in YouTube and watched some Olympic swimmers who demonstrated different breast stroke leg techniques. Finally, the answer!
Or not. Although the leg movement changes were subtle, they were enough to make the swim experience a different one. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it removed the relaxation element and although it was always great what swimming did to tone my body, a large part of it was how it made me feel. That had gone. It was more like I was having a stroke than doing one. Still, I battled on, determined to master the new breast stroke kick.
Finally, last Saturday, actually, I decided enough was enough. If the relaxation and enjoyment that made me love swimming so much had gone, then perhaps it was time to let the swimming go too. I mean it's not to say I can't ever swim, but I realised my body was telling me otherwise and that for now I needed to let it go. I cancelled the membership where I swam and pondered about what to do next...
Being a solitary soul (I work from home so spend most of my day alone) I decided I needed to join some classes, find new activities and meet other people. When I say solitary soul, I mean I am a bit of a hermit. I'll make plans to go mix with the people of the world and then change my mind and retreat back into my home sanctuary. It's not that I don't like people, I guess I've just allowed myself to become that way.
I concluded, what better class activity works better with yoga than yoga! Apart from when I did my teacher training and the odd Ashtanga class with the teacher lineage under which I practice, I've never attended yoga classes...
... and so begins my journey. Being the all or nothing girl I am, I decided I'd do a gargantuan journey through as many different yoga classes as I could; no expectation. Ashtanga is woven intrinsically into my being and remains in my heart to be savoured at 5 am, but the classes, well who knows.
The sacred number.
108 connects the moon, sun and earth. The average distance of the moon, sun and earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
According to ancient Vedic wisdom (the oldest in the world) 108 is the number of wholeness of existence. There are 108 sacred sites, known as pithas (no not the bread kind!) throughout India, 108 Upanishads (Sanskrit collection of ancient texts central to Buddhism and Hinduism) and 108 marma points (sometimes known as pressure points) that are deemed sacred places throughout the body. There are also many other significant references to 108 being a sacred number.
Traditionally, prayer beads, often called garlands or malas come in a string of 108 beads, plus one which represents the guru bead. You use the mala to count as you repeat a mantra (not Hail Mary!)
The 108 beads circle the guru bead much like the planets circle the sun.
Yogis often give reverence to 108 by performing 108 surya namaskar or sun salutations at Spring Equinox.
Well for me, 108 weaved its magic into my life in the form of the number of classes I am going to attend... the first one I have to say wasn't quite the starting point I had hoped for...
So many hats.
My daughter calls me, Miss Formal Mummy, my kids think I am posh :) Yoga saved my life, literally and I am a devoted practitioner of Ashtanga yoga which I practice 6 days a week at 5 am. I am a writer, have always been right from being 7 and having a blue typewriter which I tapped out stories on, actually wishing I was going to grow up to be an air hostess! I love photography, in all it's guises, especially black and white. In between, I am a brand and marketing queen, well the day job, subject to change of course.
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