I have been in magical Kerala, India just short of one week.
I’ve begun the trip at Soul & Surf, Varkala to relax, unwind, soak up some much needed sun, and combine my two favourite hobbies: surfing and yoga.
The yoga consists of morning vinyasa followed by afternoon mediation or pranayama (often translated as “breathing techniques” but it’s an exploration of “prana” meaning “life force”) followed by either yin or slow flow yoga in the evening. I’ve interspersed this with surfing when I’ve had the energy.
We are truly looked after here. Unlike many Western resorts in Varkala we are offered an Indian style breakfast if we wish, such as dhal with roti or masala omelet. All the food and drink is served in traditional Auryvedic copper stainless steel cups and bowls in keeping with the Auryvedic local culture here: According to Auryvedic medicine, drinking water from a copper tumbler or gold or silver vessel has always been beneficial for our health and can assist in curing many ailments. For more information on this see Therapeutic use of metals in Ancient India
I feel that my yoga practice has gained some well deserved attention. As a new teacher I’m not going to lie… it’s been a tough challenge to keep up my personal practice and fitness to maintain my schedule as a new yoga teacher.
I’m feeling better than I have done in weeks – my body is being nourished with nutritious, healthy food and there are no coco pops (my biggest weakness!) or other sugary snacks that I often give in to. My body aches in a good way from so much exercise and using muscles I haven’t tapped into for a while through surfing. My practice and strength is slowly but surely coming back, not just in how it looks but in how I feel more importantly – more inspired, more creative and more motivated on this new path.
A posture I’ve been drawn to this week is bird of paradise or svarga dvijasana. The reason is in the name coming from the Sanskrit:
Asana=seat or commonly translated as “posture”
This pose really calls to me and fits my practice at this time as I feel very much at the beginning of a new life or phase of my life. Through yoga we learn that although life is constantly changing, we can find balance, peace, stillness, and get in touch with our true essence in the midst of the chaos.
The aim of svarga dvijasana is to experience depth of paradise and renewal in the body by emulating the shape of the tropical flower, Bird of Paradise. For me, I like to think of a bird lifting and soaring whilst doing it. Birds also symbolise renewal and being “twice born” – first as an egg and then hatching into a bird.
This is a demanding balance – the extended leg lifts you helping to keep integrity of form and strength, opening up like a flower towards the sun embracing a new beginning.
Spread your wings and soar!
The benefits of this posture include that it strengthens the standing leg, ankle, knee, thigh, hips, pelvis, and quads. It tones the legs whilst improving balance and concentration. It also opens the body particularly the groin and hamstrings.
For a how-to, there are many great breakdowns online but I’d check out Yoga Journal – Bird of Paradise: 5 steps to master this standing pose. Take your time, be patient and have fun experimenting. Remember to focus on enjoying the journey…
My next blog post will be about my experience at a three-day traditional Auryvedic retreat centre.