I love the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, the discipline of completing the same series of poses during every session I find very meditative and rewarding. The traditional way of teaching Ashtanga Yoga is through assisted self practice which is when you complete your practice in the presence of a teacher who then assists you with both physical and verbal adjustments during the course of your session.
So it was in great excitement that I headed of to Mousehole in Cornwall last week for a 5 day self practice week with Lucy. Lucy has been trained and certified to teach by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the creator of Ashtanga Yoga himself who she refers lovingly as ‘Guruji’
It’s a long trek from Cumbria to Cornwall and it took us over 8 hours before we arrived at our pretty little cottage on the harbour with a clear view of the sea which we could hear quite clearly during the night.
The next morning I was up early and walked up the steep hill to Lucy’s studio and met the rest of the group. There were only six of us, as Lucy keeps the groups small so everyone gets lots of attention as they need it. This was the first time I met Lucy and she is a petite, bundle of energetic fun and as I was the only one of the group she had never met before she made me feel welcome straight away.
After warming our breath and bodies up we proceeded with our practice and this gave Lucy time to get a feel for where my practice was at and then how best to get it moving forward. We were there for over three hours in total and I was sweating as much as I do during hot yoga, slipping and sliding all over the mat.
For the first few days Lucy slowly unpicked my practice and then rebuilt it over the final three. She has a very intuitive and supportive teaching style and can really break down each pose, find your blockages and provide adjustments to help you develop your practice. I’m not sure that there are many other people who could make me laugh whilst digging their thumbs into my hips to help me get my connective tissue to release!!!
By Friday morning though I was pretty exhausted but managed to complete my best practice yet – the improvement you can make in an intensive week like this is amazing and I felt so full of energy.
During the week I was fortunate enough to have Lucy adjust me in nearly every pose of the primary series and I made copious notes after each session to try and remember the adjustments she felt were best for me, and these changed as my practise developed over the course of the week. It was an amazing experience.
So what are the lessons I learnt?
- I have to start to count. Ashtanga is a counted practice and I have to admit that I don’t, so as a consequence I am only doing half the practice as the counting helps to maintain the meditative aspect.
- Mula Bandha goes on before Uddiyana Bandha and what a difference that makes!!
- It is not enough to have the head on the hands during the headstand it needs to be off the floor completely and on my wrists – that has transformed my headstand and it does feel so much better once you get the hang of it!!
- My back bending can be improved just by approaching it with a different mindset – so out with the huffs and the puffs and in with love and gratitude.
I cannot recommend Lucy highly enough. She is amazing and I have benefitted so much from her teachings over the past week. If you get chance to practice with her then go for it. You’ll really enjoy it and your practice will move forward to another level.
If you want to find out more information then check it out by cutting & pasting the following into your search engine, but if you want to practice with Lucy or John you need to book up early as places fill up really fast!