I’ve been going to ashtanga mysore practice in Brighton for a week and a half now.  It involves an alarm ringing at 5 am and getting through my daily morning routine before hailing the first no 12 at just after 6.  My fellow bus companions protect themselves from the cold and glaring lights by shrinking into the necks of their coats, and pulling their hats down around their ears.

Not the friendliest of environments, it benefits from being relatively solitary and allows me to meditate in peace until we reach New Haven, at which point I open my eyes and begin my Pranayama.  Just a short practice…a snippet of the full sequence Danny Paradise taught us on that workshop I went to a while ago.  I should, technically, be extending my inhales and exhales.  In time I may be able to sit with the discomfort of empty lungs for 30, 40, 60 counts…but for now I’m settling on 12 and 15.  By the time we get to Peacehaven I switch on my I-pod and strum my fingers on my yoga mat, mouthing the words incoherently, stretch out the fingers of my left hand and press my palm against the steamed up and streaked window.  I lose myself in a fit of colourful and vibrant imagination.  I laugh to myself over the staged reunions with friends from afar.  New passengers get on the bus…they rarely sit next to me.

When the pier comes into view, I gather my belongings and stumble down the stairs, slamming on the stop button twice, in case they didn’t hear me.

The cold always shocks me.  The starkness of so many shops closed down.  Few people are about, but those who are all seem to be in a hurry.  I walk as quickly as I can, conscious of always being the last student to arrive.  The room is dark, lit only by the orange plug-in heaters and a couple of tea lights on the windowsill.  I miss the morning chant, and so I roll my mat out amid the moving and breathing ashtangi silhouettes, and stand in prayer for a moment.  I chant in silence and bow my head to something I don’t need to define, take an in-breath, and my practice has begun.

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