From Monday 13th Nov. we will be offering 5 Open Mysore Morning classes a week. This is possible only because Olivia has very kindly offered to lead the Tues. and Thurs. morning sessions. It would not be possible for me to do the extra sessions without my own practice being seriously compromised. We will be running these extra morning sessions as a trial until we close for Xmas on Thurs. 21st Dec.
It was 18 years ago at the end of this month that Victoria and I first came to Wellington at the invitation of Rebecca Simes to teach a workshop at the Aro Valley Hall. To our delight, there was enough demand for us to set up Te Aro Astanga Yoga and begin regular classes in Cuba St. from Jan. 2000. To start with we taught only in the afternoon/evening. There was soon people asking for morning sessions, and I started teaching the 3 mornings a week in 2001. It has always been my hope that the demand in the mornings would evolve to the point that we could offer 5 mornings, plus a Sunday morning Led session, so pretty much a full Mysore morning programme.
Guruji always said that in the morning, before dawn was the best time to practice energy wise. But it must be remembered that he was a very practical man, and his sessions ran with people starting their practice well after this time. He also always provided an evening session for the local people, who live and work in Mysore. He taught “Householder Yoga” and understood that the demands of family and working life don’t necessarily facilitate practicing before dawn. I always remember the words of the Swami on Chaumandi Hill, Mysore, who said to me “We Indians are always talking about an auspicious time to do this and to do that. But what is an auspicious time to praise God? Any time is good to praise God!”
It feels to me that Te Aro Astanga Yoga has reached its late teenager years and has evolved to the point where a Full Morning schedule is possible and I am as proud as any parent would be. Especially as the maturing of the shala has been driven by you, the people who come and practice with us. Do remember that this is a trial and please support the extra mornings if you would like us to continue in to 2018.
You know that inside all of us is the unchanging Purusa or pure consciousness. Our yoga practice is about connecting with and eventually abiding in this “pure consciousness”. This requires the gradual and steady breaking down of the “Ego”, of everything we think is “me”. So, ultimately, yoga is a process of dismantling and rebuilding. Even on a physical level, we are trying to break the body habits of a life time and replace them with better habits in our bodies. All of this requires discipline, time and constancy. We need to cultivate the discipline to establish a consistent practice and we need to have the discipline to practice according to the tenets of our yoga. Which is why it is so important to practice in a safe environment with an experienced teacher and as part of a Sangha or community. It is a sign of the strength of the Te Aro Astanga Yoga Sangha that we can now offer 5 mornings a week! Come and join us.
Part of our Full Morning schedule will involve observing the Full and New Moon Days. This means that there will be no morning sessions on the Full and New Moon (these will be notified in advance). The evening sessions will continue as normal on these days. I thought I might use this opportunity to explain my understanding of Moon Days.
Guruji said not to practice asana on the Full and New Moon and as with all things to do with my practice, this was good enough for me. It has never been part of my personality to question my Guru, something that a lot of people seem to struggle with. I guess that in the West we are brought up being encouraged to ask why and this means that it is difficult for us just to accept a prescription like “don’t practice on Full Moon” without having a reason.
On a practical level, for me it soon became obvious that giving my body a rest from the strenuous demands of doing Full Mysore practice every morning was essential. I always took Sat. morning off, again because Guruji said to, but the extra days rest every 2 weeks or so that the Moon Days gave me were very important to refresh the body and also the mind. To refresh the desire to practice. The Ashtanga Yoga Practice is very physically demanding particularly when you start doing Intermediate and Advanced Series, so the body does need the rest days if you want to avoid injury.
When questioned on Moon Days, Guruji would say that the energy is wrong on those days and he also said that if you injure yourself on a Full or New Moon it will take you a lot longer to recover. There is no doubt that I feel the change of energy that occurs with the changing cycle of the Moon in my body, for instance it sometimes seems to affect sleep patterns. This seems perfectly logical to me as the Moon obviously affects the ocean with tidal changes and given that we are up to 60% water we will feel this in our bodies.
I also noticed that with the observance of the Moon Days I became a lot more aware of the cycle of the Moon and in this way became more in touch with the cycles that exist in nature. This brought with it a deeper connection to the natural environment and my relationship to it. In turn this gave me more sympathy with the changing cycle of energy in others and also in myself. This makes it easier for me to accept the changes that inevitably occur in my body and to approach each day’s practice with no expectation of what my body should be able to do. Instead, I revel in whatever my body has to offer in the practice each day.
So it is with a happy heart and with humility that I offer to you, the Te Aro Astanga Yoga community this opportunity to practice every morning except Sat. and Moon Days, just as Guruji presented the practice to me in Mysore. Again a huge shout out to Olivia, because without her doing 2 mornings a week this wouldn’t be possible. Feel free to come and join us!