“You smell nice.”

“What?” I asked, assuming I’d misheard her.  She was assisting me in Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (just…can’t…quite…grasp my toe before folding forward on the left side) and sweat was tricking down my back, hair matted against the nape of my neck and forehead.

“You smell nice!”  She was smiling at me in that kind and supportive yoga-teacher way.  Are you sure?!!??  One eye-brow raised as I looked up on my in-breath before exhaling and nose-diving forwards.

“You smell like shortbread baking in a country house oven.  It’s comforting…”  She patted me on the shoulder with a well-done (I’d managed to fully grasp my toe and forward fold my nose into my thigh…what are you supposed to do about breathing when you get to that stage?!?), a smile, and upped and walked on to a fellow yogi wanting help with her drop-backs.

I sat with the compliment for a while.   Creative, sensory, and most of all surprising.  I smiled to myself, shrugged my shoulders, crossed my legs, tugged my feet towards my bum before placing my palms on the floor and jumping…I mean shuffling….back into Chaturanga.  Such a far cry from the stench of fags and booze that used to pour onto my mat each morning when I first started mysore yoga a year ago.

What a strange and incredible year it’s been.  I was trying to describe to my friend how I was feeling.  And what came to me was Savasana…the dead man’s pose.  At the end of a long and arduous practice you are meant to spend at least 15 minutes sprawled out on your back, eyes closed, blanket over you, surrendering to the quiet and letting your entire being – from the beating heart, to oxygenated brain – relax.  It looks like the easiest pose, but in fact it’s one of the hardest.  It takes peace of mind, trust in your surroundings, and a loss of control of thought, of breath…mere observation and acceptance.  It’s when you cool down and heal.  Recover from the intensity of the practice physically and emotionally.  It’s when you adjust, change, repair…it’s where the magic happens.

I feel like these past few months have been a REALLY long savasana.  Just kind of lying there, doing nothing, not quite settling into myself, keeping my eye on the clock, glancing at everyone else to see who’s left in the room… monkey brain, monkey brain…HUSH UP and stay still Monkey Brain!  Must get on, want to get on….but no.  Something’s been keeping me there…lying still, letting the world rotate and move forwards without me.

I’m sure I’ve said it before but I like to see things moving, I like to be active and get things going.  Staying still, and silent is a challenge for me.  A challenge I’ve been forced to undertake, and as a result I’ve feared and felt stagnation and failure.  Like all the work I’ve done, all the effort and exertion (asana if you like) has been left to deteriorate.

Its only when certain things come to light…like the fact that I don’t have toxic sweat anymore, or the way my response to certain situations has changed on a fundamental level, that I realise how far I’ve come.  It’s in this stillness that real change occurs.

When I perched on the no 12 bus after practice to return back to Eastbourne – yet another day without clients – I knew I could go two ways.  I could rest my head against the window, turn up my music and torment myself with worry – over the uncertainty of my future, and weathered wardrobe, or I could bask in the rare warmth of the low winter sun, and watch the trees and rivers go by, and enjoy that rush of happiness of being in the moment.  Those rushes are still there.  The cellular vibration and absence of thought…of time…of worry.

I remember when I first went to see Dr Deepika, my Ayurvedic doctor, for treatment – one of the first questions she asked me was, “when were you at your happiest?”  And I said, in all honesty, despite feeling I needed treatment and detoxing and whatever else, “now.  I’m at my happiest now.”  That’s still the case.  And it’s not about what I have, or where I am, or who I’m with, or without.  Its awareness, its waking up, its having access to all of these tools (yoga, meditation, ayurveda) that opens windows into yourself, into the universe.  Its feeling at once self-contained, and continually dispersing.  Its feeling so vividly connected to loved ones and strangers, no matter how far away they are.

Its knowing that this rush of happiness I feel in this moment, may be sadness and despair in the next…and being ok with that.   Every emotion, every up and down is just like my asana practice.  Good days and bad days, stiffness and heaviness, fluidity and light.  It doesn’t matter.  At the end of the practice you lie back in Savasana, and sometimes you sink into contented oblivion, and sometimes you wrestle with an overactive mind restless body…but always…always…when you fold up your blanket and roll up your mat, open the door and walk out into the morning – you feel great!

My extended savasana at this stage of my life isn’t a failure, or a stagnation of spirit and drive…its a time of healing and recuperation.  I’m beginning to surrender to it, and this really is when the magic happens.

magic

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