Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 73 - Len Blum

This morning marked our second day of Morning Yoga by the Lake. The conditions were perfect, the sunrise magnificent, so we practiced on the pier just outside the Pointe Claire Village as we've done at this time, four years straight. The feeling of practicing outside at dawn in a group of highly committed students is amazing.

Len Blum joined us this morning. Len is a brilliant yoga instructor, who is part owner of United Yoga Montreal. He is also a former successful Hollywood screen writer and the only person I know who can recite all 196 Yoga Sutras (spiritual versus) from memory in Sanskrit and knows all the major interpretations of each scripture. He is truly a devout and incredible yogi and I was humbled by his presence.

We started our meditation and breathing exercises at about 6 am and started our first set of 36 sun salutations at 6:20. Our first 12 were very slow version of my opening:

  • 4 half sun salutations = two full sun sals
  • 2 sun sals with three cat/cow stretches to bring mobility into the spine
  • 2 sun sals holding plank for three breaths to awaken the back muscles (no chaturanga or back bend)
  • 2 streamline or thunderbolt sun sals to gently open the chest and shoulders
  • 2 sphinx sun sals to further open the front of the body
  • 2 sun sals with three progressive cobras (small, medium, full)

Following our opening series, we did 60 Surya Namaskar A bringing our awareness to a different successive part of the body every six sun sals. (For me, this was in honour of Anthea, who left for BC this morning and who first introduced me to this style of surya namaskar.) Here's what we did:
  • Toes, feet and ankles
  • Knees & quadriceps
  • Integration of legs from big toe to head of femur (inner leg line)
  • Pelvis (any aspect of it)
  • *Five-ten minute break.
  • Rib cage
  • Shoulder girdle (shoulder joint, clavicle, shoulder blade)
  • Neck & head
  • Integration of the entire spine tailbone to crown of head
  • Integration of the body whole & breath
  • Any other part that needs attention or just breath-focus
We took another short break at 72 and finished with 12 Surya Namaskar B, 18 Surya Namaskar X (I call this one as X as we add a standing posture in each sun sal), and then 6 of our choosing, followed by self guided back bends and inversions.

It was so beautiful to be practicing outside to a soundtrack of birds chirping and wind in the trees. There was a tranquility so powerful, that it energized every cell of my being.

After practice, I had the privilege of speaking to Len for a good hour about various aspects of surya namaskar and my process of doing 108 each day and blogging about it. He suggested that the blogging part is probably just as intense as my actual practice, if not more so, because it is forcing me to acknowledge what I am going through and putting it out there. I hadn't really thought about it this way, but it's completely true. Sometimes I feel as though I would prefer to do another set of 108 than to write, because writing forces me to pull my experiences out of my head and to see them rationally for what they are, rather than just sit in it. But, I know how important it is to document and share the process, so here I am.

* Anyone is welcome to join us this week for an early morning practice on the pier, just one block east of Cartier on Lakeshore Rd in Pointe Claire. We start at at 6am, but you can join in whenever you want. Canada Day we're doing a special practice. ($25, breakfast included-- part of the money is going to David Suzuki Foundation.)

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