I’m away from home for a few weeks — lucky me! But taking a break away doesn’t mean a holiday from my Yoga practice. Friends tell me how worthy I am to travel with a Yoga mat, but actually I just love practising Yoga when I’m away! A new environment is a great way of refreshing my practice, getting out of old habits and routines, and trying some new things.
It’s normal here in Greece to observe ‘quiet hours’ in the afternoon (the traditional siesta time), so I mostly do my practice in the mornings so I can play music if I want to. Not my preferred time of day; I have to be patient to allow my muscles to wake up. But I have time on my side. I’m not trying to cram my practice in between all the responsibilities and duties of my normal life, and I take it slowly. I might spend some time with a particular anatomical focus trying to isolate a specific action (yes, I am nerdy enough that I brought an anatomy book with me too!) or I might work towards an āsana I’m not comfortable with. The wonderful warmth of springtime here brings a sense of energy and draws me towards balances and inversions. And without my trusty Yoga blocks, I’m getting inventive about using a wall or a piece of furniture as a support — or even that thick anatomy book!
Although I love this quiet work at home, I’m not ready to become a Yoga hermit, so I’ve also been going to a few classes locally. It’s always interesting checking out different studios and seeing how Yoga practice ‘translates’ in other countries. My nearest studio teaches in English whenever I come to class. I feel very welcome! But when I ventured further afield with a local friend, the classes were held in Greek, with just a few words in English every now and then to keep me on the right track. I joked with the teacher that Sanskrit would be easier for me than Greek — but apparently that’s only used advanced classes! Yes, I do speak a little Greek, but it dates from my pre-Yoga days as an archaeologist and has a very different focus in terms of vocabulary. Unsurprisingly knowing the Greek for ‘wheel-barrow’, ‘gorse bush’ or ‘surface survey’ isn’t much use now! Although I was expecting to be totally lost in class, of course a vinyāsa is a vinyāsa in any language, and once we’d warmed up and done a few rounds of sun salutations I began to pick out the Greek for ‘Downward Facing Dog’, and instructions like ‘knees, chest, chin’ or ‘lengthen the spine’. Now with a few basic terms under my belt, I’m feeling so full of beginner’s confidence that I’m off to a Kirtan at the weekend — anyway that has to be in Sanskrit, right?
I’m enjoying my Greek Yoga adventures a lot, but at the end it’ll be nice to come back home — and back to YogaVenue, my second home! I’m looking forward to being among friends and familiar faces — and in a familiar language. See you all soon!
By Victoria Jackson