Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Ashtanga Journey - Week 1

20 - 27 Nov 2016

It's been one whole year since I've written anything here! Started off with good intentions but life just got in the way. It's the same with my journal that I brought to Bali. Wanted to pen down my thoughts and learnings each night but it's been a week in Bali and I only managed to fill 1 day. Maybe a weekly post would work better, we'll see.

So anyway, I'm back in Canggu to do an apprenticeship of sorts with an Ashtanga teacher I met in July, the last time I was in Bali to do my 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training (which was an amazing experience in itself that deserves a whole post but I was too busy enjoying myself that I didn't manage to pen down anything!)

First morning back and it was straight to Mysore class at Serenity Eco Guesthouse. Since it was my first day back, I did Primary and that was enough. I was happy with my practice, slowly easing myself back into Canggu and the new environment. They have a new shala so that took a bit of time getting used to. I missed my old shala here though but hey - non attachment. And it was so good to see Fernando again and his strict no nonsense voice as he led some beginners through the sequence.

Serenity Eco Guesthouse

Every other afternoon, Rebecca (the other apprentice) and I would go to Fernando's house for one-on-one sessions where he will go through the postures in Sanskrit, the vinyasa counts and how to adjust properly. The first adjustment he taught was adjusting in Prasarita Padotanasana C. It was a little scary at first as I wasn't sure how much pressure and how far I can take someone but I'm getting more comfortable as days go by.

Evenings, I get to assist Fernando in his led classes and that's a great opportunity to practice on so many types of bodies. When I am practicing, I tend to zone in and not pay attention to what others are doing around me so it was really helpful to be able to see what the common issues are that people face in various postures. Most days I assist alone as Rebecca assists in the class before me but Fridays and Sundays, we get to assist together which I enjoy more. The first time we did it together was quite messy cause we moved about too much. The second time was much better as we just took care of our sections and helped when we were needed.

Assisting in Fernando's led class at Serenity

Friday morning I went to Seminyak Yoga Shala for a full Primary led class in Sanskrit, led by Sara, Fernando's wife. I always enjoy led classes as they are a good refresher cause we tend to pick up bad habits. Truly enjoy flowing next to Rebecca as I can pick up certain moves she does between the vinyasas that I skip (like the lift).  

Today, Sunday, was my best learning day so far. Morning started off with a wonderful practice at Seminyak Yoga Shala with Sara. I got to flow next to Rebecca again and got adjustments by Sara. I got given the next posture (Supta Vajrasana) in the secondary series, which I'm super grateful for. My sprained ankle is still healing so I did a modified version instead - holding on to Sara's hands instead of my foot. Sara got me to assist Rebecca in doing supta vajrasana as well. She's so flexible and bendy that it was super easy to assist her.

Sunday afternoon's session at Sara'a house was truly invaluable. Sara became the student, and Rebecca and I took turns leading and adjusting. We called out the poses by its Sanskrit name and led Sara through the sequences. Sara purposely did some weird poses so we could adjust her. It was my first time ever verbalising the entire standing sequence plus pose names so that really helped in gaining confidence and gave me a taste of what it would feel like to actually teach. Super super grateful for that session.

My personal practice is improving as well. It's been only a week here and I can feel my body opening up due to the warmth and daily practice and adjustments. Supta kurmasana is getting easier - this is not an easy pose for me - right hip is still tight but I managed to slightly cross my legs with my hands barely clasped. Marichyasana D and pasasana (only one side - still can't catch the other) are also beginning to feel effortless. Slowly but surely, my body is starting to open in kapotasana. Walking towards my heels in urdhva dhanurasa is still a long long long way away. It's so inspiring to see Rebecca catch her ankles and Bart his heels - such bendy backs - my turn will come eventually - I'm working towards it!

Other than yoga, I've made some amazing connections with some amazing people. The most significant connection I've made is with Lisa from San Diego, California. You know how you feel comfortable with certain people, requiring very little effort to bond? With her, conversations were easy, small talk wasn't needed. Her bubbly personality and infectious laugh were like rays of sunshine. Felt completely relaxed and happy around her. She left today but I'm glad we spent almost a week together.

Here's to you my Bali soul sista

By the way, I'm staying at Yana Guesthouse, a very affordable basic but clean and cozy guesthouse run by the lovely Yana who is like a mum to all her guests. They hire out scooters as well so that's convenient. I got a Honda Vario for a month. Haven't named her yet though. Any ideas?

Lisa and I braving the monsoon rain on my Vario

So glad I managed to pen some experiences down. Fingers crossed I will do this at least once a week. Till the next post.

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