Friday, 21 February 2014

Sun (rise) salutations anyone?

Are you an early morning person, getting up to greet the dawn, or a late riser, reluctant to leave the warmth of your bed? Or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle?

I teach two early morning classes — ashtanga on a Monday at 7.15 and a flow class on Tuesdays at an earlier 6.30 — I am up by 5am on those days… before sunrise! I hate getting up! It’s hard to creep out from under the duvet, leaving my other half snuggled up and sound asleep, before the light streams through the curtain and before the birds are chirping away. But once I am up, and especially once I am outside, it is fantastic. There’s a peaceful quietness that engulfs the streets before the traffic starts, and on Tuesdays I leave home just as the first planes start to fly over London!

In that quietness, you can really tune in to the different sounds that underlie the buzz of the city, that we just wouldn’t notice during the hubbub of the day when the layers of sounds weave together forming a background texture of noise.

It reminds me of Savasana and yoga nidra — when you finally have chance to release and surrender at the end of your yoga practice. I often begin by tuning in to the sounds I hear around, then pushing them aside to seek the silence beneath. The whisper of the breath, the beating of the heart, then silence…. and I feel that sensation of a blanket of quietness hugging me in… just like walking along the streets at 6am. Well, much better, especially if it’s a drizzly, grey morning!

I am always appreciative, and a little amazed, that students turn up to their mats at such an early hour, and rather than self-practice at home, make it to the gym or studio. But there is always something a little special about having got up to practice together before work begins. It’s almost like sharing a secret energy. You should try it some time! Maybe in a couple of weeks when the mornings are lighter and you can get up at sunrise to watch the first rays of light lift the darkness, highlighting the branches and roofs. (Unless you are in a basement when the chinks of light will creep in from the street corners!)

Then throughout the day, when any moments of madness or tension arise, just draw those shoulder blades down and relive those moments of stillness from before the bustle began — and in savasana at the close of practice.