Instead of yoga in the park on Saturday, I decided to go to Gayatri yoga and attend a master class offered by Elena. I have gone to her classes on and off over the past year and we have both studied under Daulet and Muhiyatbek. Lena's amazing - she offers very physically and mentally demanding yoga classes with lots of encouragement and plenty of hands-on adjustments. I thought a master class with her would be a great way to start the weekend.
The class lasted for three full hours! We started with a discussion on unity in the mind and body, and whether or not the mind truly manages the body. Not always, as much as we think it might. The theme of the class was balance and unity, and this is what we were going to explore throughout.
Lena, as she often does, reminded us to focus on the present. She asked me at one moment while doing yogic breathing what I was thinking about. I mentioned I was thinking about a project for work. 'You can leave that for work time,' she said with a smile.
Our class flowed from discussion to yoga asana practice. The practice included several asanas that I've never done before, all with the goal of preparing our bodies and minds for balancing postures. After two quite intense hours, we built up to bakasana and several other balancing poses. By that point, I was happy I'd made it through the class holding poses for longer than usual, and was quite ready for savasana. But before final relaxation, we did a chakra-focused meditation for 15 minutes.
In yoga, the breath connects the mind and body. Coming back to your breath reminds you to stay focused in the present. We try to make yoga a graceful moving meditation. It sometimes works, quite often doesn't...and I'm constantly humbled by the amount of progress I still have to go in practicing. However, spending three hours at a master class on a Saturday experiencing the full spectrum of a yoga practice - discussion, asana, meditation, chanting, pranayama - was a great way to be in the here and now and experience the mind and body connection for even a few fleeting moments. Thank you Lena and thank you Gayatri!