What a wonderful ten days off Island. It is always lovely to get off the Island, and yet always lovely to return again. Especially as we seem to have returned to Spring, it is so much warmer on the Island than it was in the UK, and it is lighter now too, with all those daffodils and extra sunlight in the evening, hoorah, summer is not so far!
Aside from work we did manage to visit some lovely places. We were staying with our friend, Charles, in Surbiton so we now have a good awareness of that area and the lovely little village of Claygate where I enjoyed a dual Reiki session - now that was a first for me, two ladies channelling Reiki to me at the same time, it was lovely, so much heat and energy.
We went to Bushy Park near Hampton Court Palace, where we saw deer and lovely trees. Mind you not a patch on the trees we saw a few days ago at Stansted Park in Hampshire, where there is an arboretum, which is a collection of interesting trees (subjective of course). Here there was an amazing Redwood and lots of beautiful maples, we love trees in this house, especially lovely to get to hug a Redwood, so grounding!!!
We visited Farnham, a lovely market town, and walked around the fields in Leatherhead, so beautiful. We drove through West Sussex, super posh, with amazing landscape of massive undulating fields and lovely Farm shops. We visited Pentworth House, where the grounds were designed by the influential Capability Brown, someone I studied at University in the context of Landscape geography - always lovely to see these things in practice even if we couldn't access the house, which was a shame.
We went to Salisbury, another lovely town, so old and historic. We visited last summer but never made it into the Cathedral so this time we did exactly that. What a wonderful Cathedral, wow, just loved it, such incredible energy, you only have to place your hands on the walls to feel it. You do indeed feel closer to God in places of worship like this. We visited Winchester too, this is another lovely town, although this time we did not venture into the Cathedral, we shall save that for next time!
We also experienced the joy of the NHS. E's sciatica got acute while we were away, so we had to visit the A&E on two occasions. On the second occasion we had to wait 6 hours to see a doctor. During that time, it was interesting to watch everyone coming and going, all shapes and sizes, all number of complaints. I went into the main hospital at one point to get a cup of tea and was amazed to find a Burger King, let alone all the drink and snack machines. It was a truly eye opening experience and one that makes me realise we have so far to go as a society in understanding the need to take responsibility for one's health; eating properly, looking after our joints and body as a whole, let alone staying mobile and mentally strong.
Talking of which I did of course manage to spend as much time as I could at Yoga. My first night I went to Bikram with Charles. This would not be my first choice, it is so hot in the room and I easily get bored of the repetition of the poses and indeed the 26 poses in the sequence. However one does feel amazing afterwards, lovely and clean on the inside and out. mentally it is a challenge for me to go to this class, so I forced myself to do exactly that one evening on my own and made an intention to enjoy the session and amazingly I did. It does get easier each time you do it so I can see how people get quite addicted to it, well to the feeling it creates for you and also the fact that the heat does help you to be even more bendy than you would be ordinarily.
Surbiton does have quite a few Yoga options but many of these are in teachers' homes. This is all the rage these days in the London area (perhaps in other areas of the country too). A combination of limited access to halls, plus the cost of hiring such halls has meant that teachers are now converting garages and creating their own Yoga space for small classes. I went to the Yoga Hutch, which is indeed a converted space run by two Ashtanga Yoga teachers who trained up in Union Yoga in Edinburgh, somewhere I have trained myself many years ago. It was lovely to do an Ashtanga class again, moving with the breath, five breaths in every pose and lots of vinyasa. There were 8 of us in the class, which was quite enough, there was limited space, no room to take the leg out to the side and one was almost nose to nose with the person facing you. Does make one more aware of the way one moves on ones mat and the space one occupies.
The highlight however, was TriYoga in Chelsea. Expensive admittedly, £16 for a class, how spoilt we are in Guernsey, but I do like the space; white, clean and light with lovely changing areas and seated areas and friendly staff. As it happens serendipity came to play, how wonderful when this happens, you know you are onto a good thing! Last time I was at TriYoga with E, we chanced upon a class with the wonderful Aram. I found him truly inspiring and made contact to thank him for the class and to go on his mailing list. It fascinated me that he came to Yoga as a result of a a bad knee and back injury, both of which healed with mindful vinyasa Yoga.
Through my contact with him I became aware not only of a wonderful book on the back and pain management but also of his teacher, Stewart Gilchrist, who I decided looked like an interesting individual when I saw photos of him on facebook. As it happens he was running a workshop on balancing on the Sunday I was in London so I signed up. Wow. Stewart also came to Yoga due to a severe bad back many years ago and he used intensive ashtanaga vinyasa Mysore Yoga to heal. He has practised Yoga for many years, studying with Patthabi Jois in India as well as the Jivamukti teachers, Sharon Gannon and David Life. Indeed he trained as Jivamukti teacher in 2003.
He is incredible. Reminds me so much of my teacher in Byron, Lance Schuler, perhaps the Scottish incarnation! He has these amazing long dreads and is incredibly knowledgeable (an academic in his spare time with all sorts of qualifications in Law and nutrition and natural drugs etc) and takes no nonsense. Such an incredible energy, he holds that class so well, it is full on, super full on, as appears to be the Jivamukti way, with a zillion sun salutations A & B and constant vinaysa moving with the breath, so many plank, chatturanga, upward facing dog, a full on Yoga work out, really pushing you to the edge and beyond, shifting boundaries time and time again.
I have missed this. I really have. It is so easy to limit oneself both on and therefore off the mat. It is so easy to fall into the "fear" trap, fearful of injury, of challenging oneself physically and mentally, of getting stuck in the same patterns, of not moving forward with one's practice and therefore in one's life. There is absolutely no time to think of anything else in Stewart's classes, a little like Lance's classes. Total present moment awareness on the breath first and foremost, lovely strong Ujaii breath, and the movement and placing of one's body into postures. Big toe grounded, drushti and clear focus, abdomen active in and up, tongue into the roof of one's mouth. Vinyasa, vinyasa, vinyasa, breathe, breathe, breathe.
I just loved Stewart's classes, truly. Such an incredibly inspiring man, so much philisophy, so much energy, so much movement and clear instruction, some people are born to teach Yoga and he is one of those people. I learnt so much about Yoga, my practice, my mind, it is incredible what you can learn about yourself from your mat in the space of 1.5 hours. Tasmai Shri Guravee Namah. It was indeed meant to be.
So there we go. A thoroughly enjoyable trip, lots of new experiences, enlightening and uplifting and indeed healing on many levels. A shame the camera broke otherwise I would have lots of lovely photos!
I hope all are keeping well.
WIth much, much gratitude,