I'm a seasoned ashtanga yoga practitioner and I practice in solitude. Everyday, I set the alarm early in the morning, sometimes very early, and half an hour later you'll find me on my mat. Many people find that strange and even call me extrem. But this has nothing to do with extremism. I am very passionate about my yoga practice, this is true. This is why.
Early mornings have a certain atmosphere, a stillness, that speaks to me. It makes me feel at home. I step to the front of my yoga mat in samsthitih and chant the ashtanga mantra. I begin the ujjayi breathing and see how it feels. Sometimes breath comes easy and sometimes my chest feels a little tight. On the inhale, I press my feet into the mat, pull in my lower belly and stretch my arms up towards the ceiling - drishti thumbs. And so practice begins.
I count each movement - each vinyasa - in my head. I feel my breath moving through me and energizing my body. I keep part of my awareness fixed on the muscles of my lower belly and feel control of my center of gravity. It becomes the center of my universe. My eyes follow the proscribed looking places and my mind clears. There is no thinking. I perceive my breath, my muscles and I see my looking place. My head is filled with numbers: ekam inhale, due exhale, trini inhale ..... I can feel my spine stretch, twist and bend. It tingles, it feels alive. There are butterflies that ever so lightly touch the muscles around my spine when they move. When they stretch it feels so good that I want to linger. All the while my body is filled with air, with lightness. As I get warmer my movements become like liquid, smoother and sometimes faster - more energy.
After a while my chest opens and I flex my heart to the world. I love all life. I am fully present. I am happy. I am free. Thinking is reduced to a minimum. My physical organism takes control and I am the watcher - that's all. I am alert. I am aware, I am moving with my breath. My world is simply reduced to what is and that is fine. After practice this feeling lingers through the day. The time on my mat is real, it is life, it is the now. The world I enter after practice is transient and volatile. It often lacks depth. I can easily accept that because I can feel the depth inside me that is the happy place which lives in all of us. Always.