A View from the Mat: Day three of the August Mysore-style Intensive

A View from the Mat is part of a series of blog posts from the perspective of our Mysore-style intensive regulars. It’s aimed at giving you a sense of what it’s like to do your Ashtanga practice in this traditional setting, early in the morning. Our August Intensive began on Monday 5th and student, Dani Abulhawa, is writing a journal entry each day.


REALLY had to drag myself in to Yoga this morning; was having such a nice sleep. Wednesday is often the hardest day – middle of the week.

There was a nice sociable atmosphere this morning. Lots of people were chatting to each other before we started. I was channelling my inner teenager; why am I doing this? I just want to sleep! I could just leave? I could give up this Yoga thing! I had to remind myself that I wanted to be there and that I should enjoy it, because next week when I try to practice on my own at home, I’m going to wish I was here, with all these lovely people – all of us slightly crazy – and in love with our Yoga practices. And it is a bit like love, because sometimes it’s really hard work and sometimes you wish that Yoga would just clean the kitchen surfaces once in a while! But, deep down, you know you want to keep going.

Today was one of my favourite Pranayama sessions – Bhastrika Breath (or ‘Bellows Breath’). You have to pump your stomach, like a set of bellows, to pull and push air in and out of of your lungs. Sounds odd, but is quite fun. I sometimes imagine there’s a little fire in front of me and I’m stoking it with my nose.

I was feeling quite strong today, and seemed to move through the practice quickly. Some days it feels like that. My left knee was giving me gyp, so I eased off postures like Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, but I’m loving forward bending at the moment. It feels good. I’ve been trying to lift my gaze more towards my toes so as to lengthen my spine – a tip from Matt earlier in the week.

I thought I was going to get away with avoiding being adjusted in Marichyasana D, but no. Matt’s watching. He knows when you’ve skipped over a difficult posture.

Backbending against the wall is a key part of our Mysore practices these days. It’s mildly like torture, but it does work to improve your backbend. Today’s photo is of my wall-bend. Note my arms are not straight and my legs a bit too far out – tut tut. This whole week my back just hasn’t felt very open. I’ll keep working on it.

This week has been all about the post-yoga snooze. I highly recommend it, if you’ve not got somewhere to be straight afterwards. In fact, I might just bring my duvet in tomorrow and incorporate a snooze into my relaxation. Sleeping is good.