Never have the neighbours of St Peter's community hall been so intrigued by the activity within the hall at 11am on a Sunday morning as 14 women crazily danced together, legs and arms flying, music blaring from the stereo and not a drop of alcohol in sight.
Oh yes very much so.
Led by Sue Pendlebury of www.yogaonashoetring.com we spent Saturday and Sunday morning being led quite literally beyond the asana. As Sue quite rightly explained, asana is only one of the eight limbs of Yoga, and Hatha Yoga (the type of Yoga that incorporates asana, and of which there are many different styles) is only one path of Yoga. This weekend we practised a combination of Hatha Yoga(asana, pranayama and meditation in particular) and Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion or divine love, to help us to open our hearts and feel the love within.
So how does the dancing fit in?
Well the idea being that through the dancing we can help to express our selves, let the spirit shine, release suppressed emotions and trapped energy, raise Prana, embrace the inner goddess and let go...
Did it work?
In fact I have this one resounding memory imprinted on my mind of Hayley, a good friend and fellow Yoga teacher, leaping and dancing around the room, arms outstretched, fingers spread, kicking a leg in the air with a look of sheer joy and ecstasy on her face. It was fantastic.
In fact the whole dancing experience was enlightening as Sue cranked up the volume and encouraged us to let go, to shake out our bodies, to stomp, to kick, to dance on our toes, to move our hips, to sway and swing and dance in and out of each other, to spin each other and spin ourselves, to well and truly enjoy the moment and let our bodies do what they do best...move in their own unique way.
Coupled with some powerful pranayama exercises, a guided chakra balancing meditation, asana to loosen the spine and to challenge the body and more so the mind (e.g hold warrior 2 for minutes at a time, feel the burn on those arms and either give in and drop or embrace the pain to discover the calmness that lies beyond), we also embraced the Bhajans and kirtan and sang our little hearts out and I for one certainly felt the joy and the presence of the Divine and could have carried on singing all afternoon.
You see Yoga is so much more than what we do on the mat. And yet here in the West we get so caught up on form, on how good we look, on how far we can get into postures, of whether we have completed this series or the next...none of it matters really, just another reflection of our Western emphasis on the external. What matters is the conscious breath and the experience, what we feel inside, how we live our lives, our relationship with ourself, with the Divine and with each other. Love. Essentially it is all about love.
It was so wonderful to be able to practice beyond the asana here in Guernsey, with my friends, to be taken to a place that I have found difficult to experience in my own practice recently, the mind often too easily distracted by the forthcoming day, emails, things to do, people to see, places to be - and without my usual six monthly Nepal influence this last year. Two days on and my faith feels stronger than ever, that regardless of what is going on, everything is as it is meant to be, there is a Divine Order to life, and a calmness and inner peace which comes with accepting things exactly as they are.
So a huge thank you to Sue and a huge thank you to all of you who joined us this weekend. I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did and the muscles have stopped aching from all the dancing!
Love and peace