“Let me tell you my secret,” began Janet Stone this morning, having asked us to share a secret with our neighbour, “I don’t care less about back bends!”
Most definitely an original way into a vinyasa class which focussed on heart-opening, and which with every word, laughter, joke and ‘whoop!’ shared, had me well and true enamoured.
Coming close to a neighbour to a tell a secret, expanding our hearts together to let more love and people in, we learnt that in the end it is vulnerability which opens the heart space. Yet as the practice proved, it requires a certain fierceness (and strength) to be vulnerable!
We began as a group chanting to set us on our way to move open and outwards, with the thought-provoking question “How do we protect our “I”?”. As our voices joined together we were also encouraged to touch our heart with the right hand and the back of our neighbour’s heart with the left; a detail I found particularly moving as we were encouraged to breathe into the hand which was supporting us from behind, breathing together whilst feeling the back and front of the heart.
It was also eye-opening to hear the heart described from every angle of our lives: breathing into the back of the heart, where our ancestors, karma and samskaras are held, the side of our heart for those who accompany us in the present, and the front of our heart with those who lie ahead of us.
The practice gradually took us into deeper heart-opening poses, guiding us to look for the alignment that created the most space around the heart, a liberating thing to hear whilst involved in the intensity of long-held planks and warriors, and the deepness of sphinx and seal. Once again, a humbling reminder to just be with the breath and find an internal state of spaciousness.
In between the different parts of the practice, a building crescendo of applause from the nearby acro-yoga area sparked a little competition of applauding and whooping, between the two areas, and the laughter and chuckling all around was a fabulous way to accompany the most challenging moments of asana!
Finally some partner yoga assisted us to approach deeper backbends, with ustrasana, urdha dhanurasana and backdrops where we were encouraged to look for our roots and ground down in the feet and pelvis to find length in the front body.
In this unique conference every class, every teacher gifts us with a drop of their special nectar, their inspiration, a word, an action, a different asana or perspective to take away with us.
Janet shared her fun, her beautiful voice, her precise instruction and easy-going nature to ease us into the more challenging poses, by embracing our vulnerability so we might move towards our darker areas, our fears or inner demons, with a sense of inner strength and true grounding.