Imagine a cross between Billy Connolly, Catweazle and Bob Marley and that was our host for two and a half hours of Jivamukti workshop on Sunday afternoon! Now for those of you who are not familiar with Jivamukti, it is a full on, hard core flowing yoga style that is heavy on the spritual side and light on water breaks! Founded by the inspirational Sharon Gannon and David Life in 1984 it is actually one of the nine internationally recognised styles of hatha yoga, literally translating to "individual soul liberation"...gotta love that!
I am not quite sure what I expected when I trotted into a jam packed Studio 1 at Yogahaven Clapham but I think I imagined we would discuss a bit about Jivamukti philosophy and ethics and maybe have a bit of a posture clinic.
Could I have been more wrong?
Stewart Gilchrist marched in sporting a beard like a rhododendron bush, swinging his dreadlocks and belted in his heavy Scottish accent, "Come on, I want to start! Get yourself in tadasana and lets get going!" I was frightened! Then I was annoyed! Hang on I haven't paid £28.50 to be shouted at! I was thinking I wouldn't last long under the Gilchrist regime.
No discussion, no easing in, no sitting and watching. It was two and a half hours of hard, dynamic, vinyasa yoga. The banning of drinking water didn't bother me because there was no time to anyway. I was wrong about him too, we flowed in and out of postures with his expert guidance and unexpected sense of humour for 150 minutes and it was the hardest but most exhilarating time I have ever spent on a yoga mat.
Jivamukti are big on their lotions and potions and right at the beginning, Stewart came around and rubbed something that smelt like tiger balm and burned like buggery on our lower backs. After a seriously deep bound extended side angle, where we then straightened our front legs and placed our chin on our shin (!) I managed to get the gel all up my arms and even in my eyes when I found a millisecond to wipe the sweat before diving into the next seemingly impossible asana! Burning eyeballs were not my favourite part I must say!
Jumping forward from Down Dog to uttanasana, we were encouraged to straighten our legs lifting up our hips in preparation for flipping up into handstand through the transition (maybe in my next life!) The point was hammered home when I found a giant Scottish leg under me, now my yoga practise was incorporating an obstacle course! Thrilled though, I made it over and to my relief Mr. Gilchrist was left unscathed! He also showed me the correct head alignment for chaturanga to up dog and lifted me what seemed like 6 inches higher in shoulder stand.
Simple tweaks for amazing results!
The inspiration from Sundays workshop is untold. I was blown away by this man's intensity and his passion as well as his incredible knowledge. I learnt some great new ways to get in and out of postures like for example from savasana into full wheel through a series of just 5 breaths...incredible!
I also learnt about me too!
I am a determined, I am strong, I am open to suggestion, and I can asana the shit out of a Tripod Headstand from Prasirita Padottanasana!
Now, the chanting towards the end was not my thing at all. For some it is a big part of their practice and I totally respect that but apart from anything I didn't know the words and felt like a div!
I will definitely be returning to a Jivamukti class soon. I loved the intensity and the speed of the flow but mostly I loved how I felt immediately afterwards...knackered but alive!
I must say it also stirred up something inside me that made me have a case of Tourettes, which was pointed out by my lovely friend Terri who was counting my swear words over a cup of tea afterwards!
I imagine that the shares in Nurofen went up on Monday too as I was suffering with a sever case of the aches but my soul is well on the way to liberation!
Namaste Freedom Lovers!