searching for yoga love… weeks 5, 6, 7, 8 and a bit

IMG_1267_sBeachside yoga, aerial yoga with a real yogini, flexibility patience pays off, AYC madness, barre v yoga, and drum rolllll… real honest-to-goodness glimpses of yoga love. It’s finally, really happening!

 

IMG_2251_sWeek 5 – Still in Danang, Vietnam, my beachside yoga comes courtesy of Fusion Maia, the resort where spa treatments are all-inclusive. How could you not love them? Alongside activities like meditation and pranayama, yoga is also complimentary and I’m there three mornings running at 8am. Before the class starts I sit on the yoga deck beneath the canopy looking, listening and absorbing all the natural, emotional and spiritual goodness of the palms, beach and beautiful turquoise ocean in my sights. There is enough asana variety across the three mornings to keep me happy and, again, I’m loving being with other guests, a live instructor and in a beautiful location. Close to yoga love.

IMG_2414_c_sWeek 5, part 2 – Ok. Here’s some real yoga love for you. I book in to the soft opened Fusion Suites, a condo-style hotel, totally different to the beachside resorts, on the edges of downtown Danang. The pale dusky green and white palette of rooms with kitchenettes, full size fridges and nutribullets for finally making good use of the fruit basket feels homey in a way a conventional hotel room rarely does. The roof is about to open its lounge bar and their Beach Club pool over the road is a little snippet of cool.

They also offer all-inclusive wellness. Book in and you get complimentary yoga in their bijou studio and a daily session of reflexology for 45 minutes (the relaxing reflexology I try is snoringly effective!). I book in for the 6am, 90-minute aerial yoga class. And when I arrive it’s already full, the hammocks are ready and Dani, the German instructor (who studied in India), starts off with pranayama and chanting, and moves on to stretches using the silks, to inversions (my favourite) and finally to a beautifully cocooned savasana inside the hammocks.

Post-class I chat to her about my flexibility obsession. “Yoga isn’t about flexibility,” she gently points out. “Stop wishing for it and it will come. Are there any other improvements you can feel?” And I suddenly realise, yes! I feel stronger, fitter, lighter. And I’ve been so caught up with flexibility, it’s happened without me realizing it. Yoga love!

Week 6 – I’m back in Hong Kong and have a week of ‘meh’ yoga. It’s like yoga is teasing me with mini-breakthroughs, then testing me with tough sessions. I’ve done four DoYogaWithMe classes this week and decide to fit a Fiji Rise and Shine in before a dinner.

O – M – G. Suddenly I’m feeling like my flexibility has leaped. My forward bends are easy, hands touching the floor without trying. I have the space to use my hands and abs to pull myself in further. In fact I feel better whatever asana I’m in, but that first forward bend was the aha-moment. Yoga love!

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 3.32.00 PMWeek 7 – I go back to Fiji’s backbends class. The first time I found it tough but good. This time I ace the chaturangas and upward dogs with just toes and hands on the ground. I go into wheel and find it slightly less breathlessly challenging than usual. I’m not sure if it’s my wrists, shoulders or back that have increased in flexibility. Or all three. But it’s a tangible improvement. I was even contemplating doing yoga twice today. Whoa!

I know yoga isn’t about flexibility, but I feel fantastic noticing some real progress. Suddenly yoga has become a respected, appreciated and valued part of my day. And just in time. Up next it’s the Asia Yoga Conference and I’m signed up to quite a few classes. So I’m hoping that rather than self-shaming with my outlet outfits, unpedicured toes and worn mat, I self-love what really matters: where I am now and where I’m going.

IMG_1267_sWeek 8 – Four days of AYC. Four days of presentations and classes. And every day takes me on a roller coaster ride. Thursday I attend the first part of the lovely Chandrika Gibson’s Yoga Therapy in Cancer Care. If ever there was a great reason for teaching yoga, then making life a little easier and rosier for those going through or having survived cancer is surely it. Friday I deepened my respect for Iyengar with Marla Apt’s Restorative and Pranayama. Saturday I fell absolutely in love with yoga during David Swenson’s entertaining and absolutely exhausting Fully Led Primary Series Flow. Yes it was my first experience of Ashtanga’s first series and when he told us newbies, “Enjoy the ride!” he was so right. I then went straight to Ana Forrest’s Freedom from Struggle. I love her no-nonsense approach but was running out of steam and rather feeling the struggle by the end (no fault of hers). Then to Marla’s Opening the Hips. Do you think I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew? Finally, I crawled to Mark Whitwell’s Advancing your Yoga Practice, which thankfully (thank you Mark!) was half discussion and half basic moves, pranayama and chanting. Wowza. Sunday I could walk, to my surprise, and managed Fire Flow by Yogini Kaliji and her class of Tri-Yoga friends. I think it’s fair to say I experienced total respect, total love, total exhaustion and ended up feeling surprisingly fantastic.

IMG_2705[1]_sAnd a bit – Which takes us up to the present day. I gave myself two days off (sorry to Mark W, who made us promise to do 40 days of yoga following his class) to recover. But yesterday I was invited to experience a Barre Yoga class at cute Central studio Barre2Barre, with their cute mats with messages, and the divine Rossana. First of all – to any ballet dancers out there – respect! I was feeling the burning, shaking and muscle exhaustion just a few minutes into the Barre part of the class. (But I loved the challenge!) Secondly – who knew it took Barre to reaffirm my yoga love? It was such a relief to intersperse those intense and intricate moves with a cobra or downward dog. Even high plank and chaturanga. In fact I loved it all.

So yes, it’s official. I’m in yoga love!