Engaging in every sense of the word this morning, was the class with Tiffany Cruikshank (Yoga Medicine), and I started my day thinking through my body rather than my mind. The theme of the morning was ‘the core’ and having a dose of Friday morning lethargy (and inner groan when I discovered the focus of the class!), how apt it was that the first thing we were reminded of was how anything to do with the core is generally associated with hard work!!! Core tends to bring to mind hard grind and lots of vigour. So it was extremely refreshing to experience a new doorway into this extremely important part of the body.
I really liked the approachable tone and ‘easy to feel at home’ nature of Tiffany’s teaching style, and have already decided to attend the other classes over the weekend.
There were several personal ‘aha moments’, and the first came as we experimented in different movements ways to isolate the different muscles of the core (rectus abdominis, obliques and transverse abdominis), as we learnt to create tone in the muscles without tension.
“Squeezing the toothpaste tube” of our waistline with just enough engagement to keep the belly stable but without limiting the movement. It was a simple but effective message, and having experimented the feeling whilst sitting still, cinching the imaginary string around my belly button, it was later much easier to apply the concepts in warrior poses, twists and balances.
Having created the sensations and realisations in simple building blocks, we were moved into a flow of asanas where we began to focus on our “3D uddiyana bandha” freeing the neck and shoulders of tension.
As we finally built up to the more challenging movements in plank and side crow Tiffany encouraged us gently but firmly to move without thinking too much; my next aha moment.
The intellect is always a good ally, but as I have often found (and rediscovered again this morning) when moving at a much more subtle level it can often be an obstacle.
For me, there were two major lessons I took away from this class. The first was as we were about to tackle side crow. For a moment we were told to stop and just close our eyes. Encouraged to have a blank mind and to open ourselves up to the possibility that anything might happen. What a powerful message! So often we have unconsciously already decided the outcome – and this is when we are practising yoga – trying to be in the present!! With a fresher perspective I made my move to be firm but gentle and was amazed at how different an experience it became, and then felt to see my feet lift off the mat!!! Yin within yang.
The second message concerned the core, yet understanding that we can be with our core, really soft in our belly at the centre of our reality. When we are in the centre of our body we make our movement flow with ease as we meander our way through life. And when we are in our core as the centre of our whole existence, we can manage every situation, and manoeuvre our way with grace. Less vigour, more gentleness.