Today it happened. The greatest yoga practice of my life to-date.
I had an incredible massage yesterday with a masseur who really understands an Ashtangi body and all the places that we get stiff and sore that hold us back on our practice, she worked my Psoas, all the glutes and possibly even the deep six. She tortured my thighs and calves, it was a little bit like giving birth (i imagine) I had to really breath through the “sensation”.
Then this morning when I woke up I could feel that my body felt more open, less painful than usual, my usual morning shoulder crunches were non-existent, and so I spent around 45 minutes in double pigeon pose stretching out my hips (as per this amazing video from David Keil), which was very intense but appears to have also been very beneficial.
The energy was really high in the KPJAYI shala, almost palpable, possibly to do with tomorrow’s full moon. I was given a space between two friends so I already felt supported and at home in my practice as I started the standings. I had chosen to wear my ‘I mean business’ shorts today – usually I wear capris and roll them up for Garbha Pindasana, but today I was in the hot pants that I usually only wear in private when I’m self-practicing. I had also strategically moisturised my arms and legs for extra slip in Garbha.
I don’t normally sweat much, even in a hot shala, but unusually for me today I was dripping wet by the end of the standing poses. I had managed only one dizzy spell after the Prasaritas which is a result, usually I spend most of the standing inversions trying not to pass out. I felt really good, my body felt like someone else’s body, someone who isn’t always in pain! I could feel my left hamstring injury as always, but I modified for it so as not to push it, even though I was feeling pretty supple.
I almost jumped straight into Bhudjapidasana and seeing as I was feeling good I decided to take my chin to the floor for the first time ever. I fell over but no teeth lost so I got back up again. I couldn’t jump back from Bakasana because my arms and legs were so slippy, but I didn’t mind – I still had my eye on Garbha.
I gently lowered myself into Kurmasana, and it felt really close, really together, with everything pulling in to the midline. I eased my chest lower, mindful of my hamstring but it seemed fine, no pain so I went flat. Second victory, I’ve never got flat to the floor with no pain on my own before. I wiggled my arms round the back, holy crap, my fingers were touching – another first. A helpful soul came to bring my hands fully together and then before I knew what was happening my feet were crossed behind my head in Supta K. Another first! He lowered my feet to the floor for a few breaths and then picked my feet up, I got my hands round and lifted up – WITH MY FEET STILL BEHIND MY FRICKING HEAD! Unbelievable. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look anything like as cool as Kino in it, given that my face was purple and I was dripping wet, but whatever! Up into Titibasana and sort of jumped back in a slippy slidey sort of way.
In Garbha pindasana I usually have to involve half a bottle of spray and enough force to give birth to a cow while trying to get my arms through my legs, not to mention ignoring the very large elbow bruises from the very same manoeuvre ,but I was slicked up like a cormorant in an oil spill so they popped right through (sorry I know this simile is a little tasteless). I concentrated really hard as I rolled around the mat – I usually get stuck after three or four rolls and have to get rocked for the rest, but today i was not going to flail around like a cockroach. I applied all my mental focus and made it round and straight up into Kukkutasana.
I sailed through the last part and was determined to nail the drop backs. I focused so hard, I believed I could do it. I imagined I was one of the little asian gymnast types who always ends up on the mat next to me dropping back and bouncing back up straight away. I channeled that down and up down and up mindset and I did them! No falling over, no momentum carrying me onto the mat in front one me. My god, could this practice get any better? Just assisted drop-backs left and the lovely John Bultman was standing next to me again. “One, two three, and walk in, walk in. Catch your ankles.” I spider walked my fingers to where I imagined my feet might be. I remembered from yesterday’s hilarious incident when I caught John’s foot instead of my own and let out a very undignified snort when he said, “that’s my foot” that my foot was likely to be further to the left. I found it, and John picked me up to catch my ankles. A little tap on my back and I sprang back up. Hands in Namaste – thank you John. I took my mats and went to the changing rooms to close.
I took my time in closing, savouring every breath, slowing down my heart rate, balancing my nervous system, trying not to relive every victory and stay present until the very end. As I finished pranayama I was overcome with a wave of emotion, I let it out, a few tears of joy and elation and gratitude. Deep, deep gratitude for this practice and this shala and this place and these people.
Come to Mysore, where Yoga dreams come true.