"Yoga is what happens in the silence"


It has now been exactly 3 months since I arrived in India and 2 months since my last practice with Sharath at KPJAYI in Mysore. I left Mysore at 11am on the 30th November and arrived in Varkala just after midnight. That long day of travelling was also the culmination of a long and intense month of practicing. So whilst I had the urge to write about my experience at KPJAYI, I could not find the energy. "Yoga is what happens in the silence." This is one of the simplest and truest insights that Sharath shared with us during one of the conferences he holds for students every Saturday. My mind has been coming back to that sentiment again and again over the past 2 months.

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Varkala was beautiful, a peaceful and picturesque antidote to the noise and general busyness of Mysore. I met a friend there and we enjoyed a few days of doing nothing much other than reading and sunbathing in a quiet setting. After 4 chilled out days we packed up and began making our way up the south west coast of India. Our first stop was Fort Cochin, where we took a day trip out to the Alleppey backwaters and spent our other days cycling around the main town. We then travelled inland for 27hrs to get from Cochin to Hampi, where we spent 3 days exploring the temples, before finally making our way to Agonda in south Goa. Which is where I have been settled for the past 7 weeks. 

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When I arrived in Agonda I had 1 week of chilling by the beach before the first 200hr course that I was set to teach on at Sampoorna began. In the first month my role at the school quickly evolved from assisting in classes to being one of the main teachers responsible for teaching Ashtanga and Alignment & Adjustment to the trainee teachers. This means being up at 05:15 so I am ready to teach Ashtanga from 06:30-08:30. I then squeeze in a quick self practice from 08:45-10:00, have breakfast from 10:00-11:00, then spend up to 3hrs reading, researching and writing my class plan for the A&A class at 15:00. When I have spare time I also teach Vinyasa classes to the holiday makers that come to Sampoorna for drop in yoga classes.

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A few friends have asked if my yoga practice has improved significantly since I leaving London. Others have asked if I am getting all that I want from this time away. The honest answer to the first question is that I do not feel like my asana practice has improved significantly. I am stronger than I was previously but my struggle with certain asanas (Mari D!) still continues. However, what has improved significantly is my attachment to the physical outcome of my practice and also my attachment and expectations of this whole experience. Which brings me on to the answer to that second question. Teaching yoga to people who have never practised it before, and hearing them say how much it is positively affecting them them on a cellular level and spiritual level, has reinforced my own understanding of what it really means to practice yoga. 

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The benefit of yoga has always been most evident to me in the moments of silence in between whatever I am filling my time with. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a planner. I have always had a sense of direction in life and as a result I have always been able to form some shape of a plan that would enable me to get to my desired destination. My plan for this time off was to spend my days "maximising" my time off. I planned to read lots, go to the beach lots, practice yoga lots, and do all of the other things that I am passionate about "lots" more. But even here, with seemingly more time to myself, I have not been able to create some magical vortex where days pass by more slowly allowing me to enjoy all of my grand plans. 

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Back in London the benefit of my yoga practice was evident in how much calmer and clearer I felt on days when I was practising regularly versus how I felt when I had not practised for days at a time. Now that I am away I see the benefit of the practice revealing itself to me as I slowly learn how to feel more comfortable in the present moment. Because despite being in this idyllic sunshine, beach and yoga setting, not having an already formulated plan beyond these 9 months is new to me, and as such it makes me a little uncomfortable. But in-between all of my yoga related busyness I am learning how to appreciate the experience itself, just as it is. And this experience, without me even needing to control it, is proving to be incredibly expansive. Learning to just be present is the expansion. Connecting with new people and having fresh experiences is the expansion. Thinking back to my life in London with an enhanced feeling of appreciation for all of my friends, family and life experiences, is the expansion. The outcome from this period is not apparent to me now. Maybe the outcome will be a subtle change in my lifestyle or maybe it will be a big change in my life. Whichever it may be, learning how to give space to this period of unguided expansion will be one of the biggest benefits of this time away. And that is the what is happening in my moments of silence.

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