I have officially memorized the full primary series! Woo Hoo! Now I just flow through without thought and get into a very focused meditative state during my practice. I can feel myself transforming. I have so much to say, I don't know where to begin!
My schedule has gotten even more crazy! I spent the last two weeks learning from 6am to 7pm, pretty much...with a small break here or there. Through out the day I practice 1 1/2 hours of Astanga Asana, I practice 1 1/2 hours of teaching and alignment during a real yoga class, I practice 1 hour of asana as preparation for meditation, and then 20-30 minutes of pranayama as preparation for meditation, and then 20-30 minutes of meditation, then a second practice of 30 minutes of pranayama later in the day.
The alignments that Sheshadri gives are powerful! I am so happy to be learning them! I have to use my whole body, and am twisting yogi bodies into some of the craziest positions, using all my strength to mold my human sculptures! It is hard work, but fun, and I love to see the look on peoples faces when little old me takes them to their limit in some advanced shape! Sheshadri is a exceptional teacher, and truly knows how to push limits as well as soothe weakness and injury. He stands on people's thigh's when they are in wheel pose, and then he walks on people's backs to relax them during their svasana. He has noticed that I am very interested in the massage and back walking techniques. So, he has taken to teaching me these things and giving me ample opportunities to practice at the end of peoples asana practice. I love it!
The meditation course is so intensive and wonderful. My meditation teacher, Dr. Nagaraj, has taught me how to apply a meditative state to my yoga asana practice and has helped me to synchronize my breath with my movements. The meditation techniques are strict and specific but a great tool to really meditate and not just relax! The formula for meditation is that we must always practice asana (which is not meant to be done alone, but really is only preparation for meditation), and then pranayama, and then meditation. This formula is never to be tampered with. Asana prepares the body, and pranayama prepares the mind and the energy. These are necessary to truly meditate, and not just relax and float in a peaceful state. My teacher/guru Nagaraj, calls this type Spiritual Mediation, and sets it apart from most western approaches which simply allow the person to be thoughtless, or relaxed. Thoughtless and relaxed are great states to be in, they feel good, but they do not bring one closer to deep levels of spirituality which are true yogic intentions for meditation. I am finding the process to be brilliant, I really love it. Now when I practice my 1 1/2 hours of asana separately, I am finding that I am using the entire time to be in this focused spiritual state. I feels as though I used to be very lost in my body, feeling the strength of one pose, enjoying the flexibility of another, dreading the pain of yet another pose. But now I find that my body is getting very strong and flexible. I have also brought out old injuries which I feel I am working through for good. Because of all this, I am always strong, and flexible, and slightly in pain. All poses, I am all things. I find that with this new approach, no matter how strong or painful or flexible my body feels, my mind is in a state of constant focus, peace, directed spiritual observation. I am sure my explanations here are not doing justice to the new experience and level I am reaching during my yoga practice. Somethings aren't easily expressed. And yet, I am so excited about these changes, and this new approach, and level I have reached that I wish to express and share it!!
I feel as though I am now riding in a boat that is taking me higher and higher up a river that climbs the mountain of spirituality, however backwards that sounds...it's how I feel. I feel as though naturally during this dedicated process my body is evolving, but that is secondary to the internal growth that is transforming me! Yeah Yoga! Yoga meaning the whole path, the yamas, the niyamas, the meditation, the pranayama, the satvic diet, the asana, the community, the process, the cleansing, the evolving...the whole shebang!!!
On a side note, I am now playing in a band. Our band was born accidentally. Many yogi's began congregating on our only weekend night off, Fridays. We have no classes at all on Saturday. So we have a big potluck dinner and do Kirtan, chanting, as a means for celebration on our one night off. Each time we come together to celebrate our music synchronizes and sounds really amazing. One of the band members, Dennis who is from Italy, says that if we jammed like this at an establishment in Rome we would have a great following and make great money. Not that we do it for those reasons at all! We all just play together! I play didgerie doo, and sing, and tinker with guitar sometimes, and dance around with my fire poi in the background sometimes as well. Sarah plays mridanga, an indian drum, and sings. Gaura plays mridanga, and kartals bells, and sings. Dennis plays tabla, another type of indian drum, and sings. David plays guitar, and sings. Anastacia plays the mridanga, and this Siberian instrument which I only know the russian name for: the vargan. Ella plays the kartals bells, and sings. We have other people who join their voices with us, or tinker on a glass with a fork to make cool sounds, or borrow a drum to jam along for some moments. But that is our core group. We are pretty great! I have never been part of a group that sounded so professional together. We don't plan anything, we just jam. Sometimes we sing songs that are timeless and country less...music that people all over the world know and can sing along to, and then we mix in some yogic chants with them. But mostly we do kirtan chanting and make up our own jams. I love to see peoples smiles and their eyes as they listen and watch us. I am so glad that we bring them joy, cuz it feels so great to play! Unfortunately in a couple of weeks we are going have break up the band as our paths diverge and we all frolic on in our own direction. Gaura and I plan to keep up our daily jam sessions when we head up north to explore spiritual and yogic places together. Dennis will be traveling with us for a bit as well, so we shall all keep on jamming for the joy of it.
I miss all my loved ones! And I love this moment in life. I have never felt more like a true, healthy, version of myself than I do right now! And I am only at the beginning of the process I have begun! Wow, how exciting! Can't wait to grow some more