Participating in the Intensive Ashtanga yoga weekend with David and his wife Shelley Washington was an incredible privilege and I came out all buzzing and really motivated to take my own Ashtanga practice that bit further. Thanks to Rionach O'Flynn of Greystones Yoga, we were able to study with this seasoned, incredibly insightful and refreshingly funny yogi who has been practicing Ashtanga for the last forty years. It was an inspiring reminder that I am on the right track with my own practice, and that my practice has become so much more than just a way to become and stay physically fit. As a matter of fact, with consistent personal practice, I have managed to transform yoga into a lifestyle over the last few years. I am incredibly grateful to have discovered the practice because without it I would not know what to do, it's my anchor and keeps me sane no matter what is going on in the external world or with people around me.
David and Shelley take such a refreshing approach to teaching yoga, and make it so much fun. In fact, I cannot remember laughing as much in any yoga workshops I have taken in the past. I loved hearing David's little anecdotes throughout the workshops. While taking Ashtanga yoga seriously and passing it down in the traditional framework as taught by Patthabi Jois, David Swenson still manages to keep a healthy balance between a serious, disciplined practice and a lighthearted approach allowing for human error and inviting playfulness.
Another thing I particularly loved about David's workshops was the fact that it involved a lot of group work which did not only take out the tension and possible anxiety that some anasanas (like headstand, handstand and backbend) may cause in some people but it also gave us really precious knowledge about how to assist other yogis in accomplishing and practising certain poses in a healthy, supported and controlled manner. While I love backbending sequences I am still a little weirded out by the concept of freestanding headstands (this got much better over the last year) and especially handstands. The idea of potentially falling freaks out my adult self and I much prefer having people around to catch me in case I do happen to fall. I know falling won't kill me and David did explain how to fall and roll out of falls safely but I still have not managed to entirely let go of the fear (that simply imagining the potential of falling creates).
The fact that David and Shelley put us in groups to work on and explore handstand helped me enormously as it made me realize how much fun handstands actually are. I love seeing the world from an entirely different perspective, and exploring my balance and strength. Also, it made me acknowledge that I am probably already strong enough to attempt them (gradually) on my own although my rational mind still tends to try and convince me differently. Another aspect I really loved about the weekend was that we were able to discuss yoga philosophy quite a bit too, which was a great way for winding down the weekend.
While I mostly practise yoga on my own, I always appreciate opportunities of connecting with and getting to know fellow yogis/yoginis. The events organised by Greystones Yoga are always such a welcome chance for me to do yoga in a group setting. The David Swenson workshops (much more like the David Williams workshops at Greystones Yoga last year) really allowed me to exchange myself with yoga practitioners and to feel that I am part of a greater movement. Not only did I get a lift of a beautiful massage therapist and met other yoga girls as a result, but I was also able to meet new people assisting and being assisted in the workshops, and I spent two amazing days in Greystones. Greystones is such a beautiful place and the whole weekend was sunny and bright, and I enjoyed vegan food at the Happy Pear. How much better can life get?
Just because I am only posting this entry now, I wanted to also mention that my participation in the Luke Jordan workshops at Samadhi Dublin on 14 July was amazing too. Again, the second workshop (which followed a Led Primary Series class) was about Yoga philosophy and chanting and I will definitely read the Yoga Sutras in depth after this. My next yoga related adventure will be with the wonderful Gillian Mooney who will teach a series of amazing workshops over the coming bank holiday weekend.. I absolutely cannot wait for it! Saturday 3 August will commence with a Tristhana workshop (10-1 pm) followed by the Principles of Backbending (2-4 pm). Sunday 4 August will start with a Led Primary class (10-1 pm) followed by an Inversions workshop (2-4 pm). And Monday will be an Introductory workshop to the Intermediate series (10-1 pm) which I am particularly looking forward to. See http://www.ashtangayogaireland.ie/workshops.html for more information.