I will be forever grateful to the practice of Ashtanga Yoga. My regular visits to the different locations along the Primary Series path were a vital journey of acquaintance and discovery, most particularly with myself. For the first couple of years it was literally an introduction to a whole number of muscles I never knew I had; an awakening inside, achey, sore yet spacious in a completely new way: every single day! Then it became about confronting complaints of an entirely different nature: mind chatter, laziness (the 6.15am alarm in winter!), self-criticism, establishing natural limits, recognising the often fickle nature of the mind, and later all kinds of more subtle energetic sensations, both on a psycho-emotional and physical level.
As my love affair with Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga progressed, I gained a very valuable new tool – self-practice. Yoga at my own pace, with my own breath and visiting asana day in, day out, provided a totally new, on-going insight to the individual poses; comparable to living in the same city your whole life and yet discovering something new about it every day. I learnt to practice alone, at home, no matter if the studio was closed, my timetable had changed or if I was away from the city and far from any studio….
A couple of years ago life took a different turn for me, and suffice to say, Ashtanga had to take a step backwards in my regular practice.
Over time I began to branch out and experiment with other classes, new expressions and teachers. I was introduced to two new creative and inspiring yoga worlds – Rocket and Jivamukti – along with the rediscovery of practising in tune with others in company. Within a shared class the communal energy, combined breath and wonderful synchronicity of asana together – Yoga in company – got me hooked all over again.
Nowadays, whilst my self-practice still contains strong elements of my first love, Mysore-style, the week is often a multi-coloured spectrum of yoga experiences, speckled with different disciplines and intensities. One of the great beauties of Barcelona is this amazing opportunity to pick and choose among such a vast range of Yoga in every possible expression imaginable. And it is for this very reason that the city is such an apt host for its Yoga Conference, which is a truly honest reflection of how deeply-seated Yoga is in town.
Last weekend I had the great privilege to assist as a teacher at a huge public outdoor event for women which combined Yoga on the beach, running and SUP (Stand Up Paddle board). The early hours of Saturday morning saw many hundreds of eager participants set up on the beach to share some yoga in company.
The amazing view of this mass movement of breath and colourfully-clad bodies flowing in and out of asana was simply stunning. Hundreds of voices joined together to chant ‘OM’ creating one big crystal-clear Yoga bubble which floated up into the blue skies and over across the Mediterranean. Uplifting and pure like nothing else.
As I sat and chanted among this wonderful crowd, immersed in the uniqueness of the moment, prickling with goosebumps and butterflies in my stomach, it dawned on me that more of these incredible moments of unity were coming very soon at the fast-approaching Barcelona Yoga Conference in July.
In just six weeks’ time we will all have the chance to move and chant, breathe, sweat, laugh and live together for five whole days. In true Barcelona style there is something for everyone.
Check out the programme and get set for a wonderful experience of Yoga & Company. Looking forward to meeting you there!