om gam yoga

Melbourne yoga instruction by Sophie Langley

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Mental ambling

These last two weeks, when I’ve put myself in yoga postures, I’ve found myself mentally traversing the streets of inner-western Sydney that I used to frequent. I’ve travelled mentally down King Street in Newtown, and down various side- and backstreets I wandered; through Darlington and Redfern; up and down Glebe Point Road. I’ve also found myself mentally inhabiting my various bedrooms and lounge rooms in Sydney — particularly those from my last two houses there. It’s an odd experience.

Up until a few weeks ago, I’d not been on the floor for yoga with any kind of regularity, and it seems that being back in my physical body now that I am yoga-ing every day again is putting me back in those places I spent lots of time in. It’s not really like reliving particular memories — although my memory of those places is obviously necessary for the experience. There’s no such specificity. Instead it’s like I’m wandering through those places anew; a mental experience that’s no doubt cobbled together from various more specific memories. It’s like a waking dream.

There’s a sadness to it, a missing. But it’s a missing without longing. Not at all like the way I miss the various important people it’s now much harder for me to see.

It’s almost as though my mind is taking me slowly through the various places that have been important to me — or at least places I went frequently — so that I can let those memories settle and get on with things here.

The strangest part is that these mental journeys only happen when I’m doing yoga. Not when I’m going about my day, not when I’m lying in bed at night trying to sleep, not when I go for a wander in the nearby park. Of course, the mental and emotional sorting that yoga seems to encourage is half the reason I do it in the first place, so it shouldn’t surprise me that the practice is bringing up all this stuff.

Melbourne and Sydney are compared with one another an awful lot, and I don’t really have anything to add to that conversation, except to say that they’re very different places and that each has its own list of pros and cons. But in a way this is a process of comparing my physical experience of them in my own mind. I had a conversation the other day with a friend on Twitter about my missing of Sydney’s farmers’ markets. There are, of course, plenty of farmers’ markets in Melbourne — a number of them a short way from my house. I said to my friend that none of them were quite the same, and while this is true, I think that what I was really trying to get at is that I’ve not yet settled here into the familiarity I had with where the markets in Sydney were, how to get there, what I might find there. Of how those places fitted into my life, or how my life fitted into those places. And this, really, is indicative of where I am with the move on a larger scale. Despite the familiarity of Melbourne itself to me, and despite my fondness for it, I’ve not yet figured out how my life fits in here, of what it is that this place means or will mean for me this time round.

Then I remember that I’ve only been here for just shy of four months and my not feeling completely settled makes a lot of sense. Before we left, a few people said to my housemate and I that it had taken them six months to a year to feel settled in a new place the last time they made a big move, and now I come to think of it, it probably took me that long to feel settled in Sydney when I moved there from here five years ago. So I’ve got a way to go yet, and probably a few more mental journeys through Sydney’s streets to take. In the meantime, it’s awfully interesting to watch those mental organising processes, if that’s what this is, occurring.

And as for the markets question, there are a few contenders that I think I might warm to over the next few months. Here are some shots I took the other day at Collingwood Children’s Farm, which has a market every Saturday that I’ll get to for the first time this coming weekend. (CCF is a city farm, which none of markets I frequented in Sydney were — it’s rather lovely.)

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This is cross-posted on my writing blog.

Expansion

Happily, I’m having one of those weeks where my reading keeps building and my thoughts keep expanding out, turning into this incredibly complex web of interests. I’m not quite sure where to look at any given moment. I’ve made some decisions to change things — in big ways and in small ways — over the last few months, and it’s like I’m looking at a map, looking at all the different routes I might take to get to where I’m going. Except that where I’m going is a very vague concept — like I’m headed to a suburb, rather than a particular address. It’s exciting*.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about how I’m a bit of an airhead, a bit of a dreamer. I need things and people to pull me back down to earth from time to time, and I need to do my best to be really organised so I don’t forget to do things I’ve said I will, or be places I’ve said I’ll be. I’ve also been teaching an awful lot of yoga classes these last few weeks. Having my head in so many different places in such a short space of time makes me even more prone to forgetting things. So it probably shouldn’t surprise me that I’ve found my way back to sitting curled up with a book for hours on end. It seems to satisfy both the dreaminess and the need for some kind of grounding.

Among other things (I seem to have ploughed through books much faster than usual lately), I’ve been reading Anne Enright’s Booker Prize winning novel The Gathering, partly for sheer enjoyment, and partly for research. Today I came across this passage, where the character is thinking about St Veronica, who gave Jesus her veil so he could wipe his face as he carried his cross:

“I became quite fond of her; a figure leaning out of the crowd, both supplicatory and tender. I still think of her wherever wet towels are offered in Chinese restaurants and on old-fashioned airlines. We have lost the art of public tenderness, these small gestures of wiping and washing; we have forgotten how abjectly the body welcomes a formal touch.”

It made me think about how we touch. How a small gesture of touch from another human being can bring so much comfort, can calm you down. Of how the gentlest touch when I’m teaching yoga can change a pose entirely for the student. And of how that calming, that grounding, on a yoga mat or in life, helps set the base from which expansion can occur.

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* And, if I’m honest, at times also confusing and daunting. But then aren’t all the best things in life a mixture of exciting and daunting?

(This is cross-posted over at my writing blog.)

Private yoga lessons

Traditionally, yoga was taught on a one-to-one basis. In this format, a teacher can give their student a whole lot more personalised attention — working very specifically with injuries or imbalances, working on particular poses. For the student, one-on-one time with a teacher provides the opportunity to ask questions they might be shy about asking in the context of a larger class. A private yoga lesson can be anything you want it to be — even an hour-long guided relaxation!

This year, just in time for Christmas, I’m offering private lessons. If your regular class is on hiatus over the holiday period, or you think a more dedicated yoga practice might be on your new year’s resolution list, a private class or two might be just what you need. Of course, private yoga classes might also make a great gift for someone you know.

Lessons can be arranged at a time that’s convenient for you (or the recipient of your gift), and can take place in the comfort of your own home.

A single private lesson (an hour long) is $75, but discounts will apply for multiple lessons.

If you’re interested in private lessons, either as a once-off, or as an ongoing venture, please get in touch.

Podcast: The Wellness Guys

My brother put me onto this podcast, The Wellness Guys. I’m really loving it — they cover everything from stress to food to energy levels. Definitely worth a listen.

Yoga Music: MC Yogi

This is one of my favourite tracks to play during Savasana… or just in the evening while I’m getting ready for bed. It’s got just the right kind of calm-down energy.

MC Yogi: Shanti (Peace Out)