It would be a mistake to think of ‘Tranquil Tuesday’ at Diana Brook’s yoga studio simply as a time to zone out. It is without doubt an opportunity to slow down and disconnect but by the end of the day I was considerably calmer with greater personal clarity and contentment.
The focus during both classes is to make the practice as deep and personal as we can. We are told to head in and out of the poses without criticism of ourselves and to slow the pace right down – a simple enough instruction but one I need to be reminded of throughout.
It turns out that slowing down is something I find particularly difficult to do but when I eventually shift my tempo it becomes clear that slowing down means immersing oneself further into the practice and inviting a meaningful connection with our own deeper rhythms.
In the morning class Nourish and Nurture with Joanne Gardner, we work on balancing the feminine and the masculine parts of ourselves. Breathing in and out through the nostrils, keeping the movement fluid with gentle repetitive mudras or hand gestures.
As we repeat poses we are actively connecting with our emotions; recognising and allowing a variety of thoughts and ideas to come through us. But we are encouraged to allow our thoughts to be positive or at the very least, constructive. Destructive or obstructive thoughts can be frighteiningly habitual and to hear someone guide you away from them is helpful. More significant perhaps is the realisation that we are not here to berate our negative thoughts but to accept them and with Jo’s guidance begin to open the door to more positive ideas.
Picture credit: Diana Brook
The class remains reflective. Over and over again we are given a chance to observe the gaps in our physical and mental wellbeing thereby cultivating a better understanding of ourselves. The practice is slow, slow, slow – ensuring that any discoveries made are truly experienced and felt.
Jo explains that there is currently a supermoon and that connecting to its light would be a beneficial practice. This is a visualisation exercise. To see the light of the moon in our minds– the bright, illuminated silver-white sphere and send it travelling down through our chakras, spreading it’s strength and luminosity through our bodies, allowing for compassion, creativity, empathy and communication. I love this exercise. The warmth spreads over me.
We begin with a meditation and once again a practice in visualisation. We are asked to retrace our journeys from leaving the house or the office to travelling by car, public transport or on foot until the moment we arrive on our mats.
How we are feeling? Are we stressed? Worn out? Ready to begin the class? Is there anything that we have picked up on the way that is unhelpful to us? Anything that we need to let go of? Has our journey affected our mood? Are we able to let go of the things that are not serving us, the things that we are powerless to change?
This is about self awareness as well as paying attention.
Both classes stress the value of paying attention…of becoming more aware of ourselves in any given circumstance as well as our reactions to the circumstances we find ourselves in.
The exercises and postures encourage us to go inwards in order to motivate a greater outer awareness.
Jo further explains that winter is the perfect time to build our reserves and that the practice of going inwards, of taking the time to listen to ourselves, directly supports this.
Picture credit: Diana Brook
We work with twists as though wringing out the towel – squeezing the unneccessary baggage out from our spines and bringing the necessary life back into it. And it’s detailed work – down to the moment where we are asked to consider the shift of weight from the outside to the inside of our feet – what happens to our knees? Our hips? It’s about noticing the parts of the body as well as identifying where our strengths and weaknesses lie.
We practice balancing poses with our eyes closed, needless to say there are a few tumbles but when we get the hang of it having our eyes closed allows our internal compass to kick in and it’s efficacy comes into sharp focus.
Both classes encourage us to build the concentration that lies within, using the breath to steady and ground us throughout whilst applying a measured and compassionate rhythm.
It serves as a realistic indication of where we are.
Bringing our consciousness within, helps us disconnect from the day to day rhythms of life and reconnect with our inner voice, especially when we are willing to be curious and explore.
It’s an opportunity to reflect – a moving, breathing reflection.
This is indeed a ‘Tranquil Tuesday’ but one that offers up the chance to take a deeper look at who we are and what it is we need or want.
It’s opening the door to a deeper personal understanding whilst replenishing our much needed reserves with compassion and warmth.