As there was no 7 a.m. class yesterday (the downside of Easter weekend), I thought I’d get my yogini up early today to sing the praises of morning yoga. My yogini’s curent path has its origins in devotion to a beloved friend who died some years ago. They shared a flat for a while and, having met through yoga, agreed to get up before work for a short practice. In reality this meant the friend practically beating down my yogini’s door each morning and dragging her out of bed.
Obviously a practice in memorium had to include early classes. For the first year or so my yogini avoided this thought. Then for a year or so she managed to grit her teeth and get up once a week, as long as the mornings were light, but not in winter. And then a funny thing started to happen. Some dark mornings my yogini would find herself dressed and half way out the door with me before she was really aware of being awake. Soon she was waking up before the alarm and watching as half her brain thought, ‘yay, yoga morning!’ and practically leaping out of bed.
And now before work yoga is probably our favourite class. She’s full of energy and focus that hasn’t been diluted by a day at work. There’s something about putting one’s practice first literally that feels really appropriate and on the best day the calm and space continues to echo throughout the day. So to our teachers who’ve managed to consistently hold morning classes across the years for us to stumble bleary-eyed into, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Surely you’ve seen the clip. A frumpy, rather dumpy, middle aged woman gets up on stage. She’s awkward. You think you know where this is going, and then she sings with the voice of an angel and more bags of charisma than you could fit in your wheely bin – and Susan Boyle is launched upon the world. Google her if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about.
Well my yogini’s om is a bit like that. Only the other way round. Even after the most satisfying, graceful, or revelatory practice it’s the same flat drone. She’s been managing this in a number of ways: Not oming; Trying to om very quietly – which makes her sound like she’s being strangled; Sometimes humming; Ideally laying me down next to some loud deep oming man (Brandon, we miss you).
But although it sounds awful, at least compared to all the other women’s choir-like harmonics, it actually feels pretty damn good. It’s deep and vibrates up and through her body. Encouraged by a surprise revelation that someone else shares the tuneless droning om (thank you, thank you) she’s starting to feel rather empowered. Isn’t the om meant to be the sound of the universe? Maybe this is just what it hers sounds like. So if you’re at the end of class and thinking what is that dreadful, dreadful noise? It’s probably her.
So my yogini is interested in exploring ‘the edge’ in her practice. The problem is that playing near the edge means you’re in danger of injury – physical if we’re talking on mat practice and emotionally when we’re talking about exploring one’s edge elsewhere. Feeling a bit bruised from a work encounter my yogini asks me to think about this. So preventing physical injury is (or should be) easy – listen to your body – doesn’t mean we’ve sorted that niggling shoulder though. But once injured where do we go? So shoulder-wise this means adjusting her practice and avoiding/modifying poses; doing (supposedly) some specific strengthening exercises; seeking outside specialist help. Then we’ve noticed that sometimes injury is a teacher – so the tendency to pull into the back because the shoulder is sore and the abs are somewhat lacking. So does this translate for an emotional injury? Should she avoid the situations that gave rise to this injury for a while? And what happens when it’s work not yoga – so you can’t just choose not to go to class?