A View from the Mat: Day two 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 this morning and student, Dani Abulhawa, is writing a journal entry each day.


Had a rough night’s sleep, due to ridiculous stomach ache. But, was surprisingly spritely this morning! Had my morning cup of mint tea… I recently gave up (well, limited) the amount of coffee I’m drinking, so it’s the next best thing for getting me from the grunting stage to full sentences and motor skills after waking.

Our lovely loft Yoga room was so busy, I had to go at the front. Not my favourite place. I’m not one of those people that gets attached to a particular spot; I don’t mind shifting around a bit, but the front feels a bit scary for some reason. I realised today though that it’s actually quite a good place to be – especially during leg lifts – because you don’t have anyone in front to distract you from balancing. My eyes wander, my mind wanders and then I quickly start hopping around on one leg.

Pranayama is going really well this month! Normally, I have to try and breath through a very blocked or runny nose (hayfever, colds etc), but it was nice and clear. This is the main challenge with breathing exercises. Bring a tissue to Mysore if, like me, your ears, nose and throat system hates you during the Summer months.

My body felt pretty good today – not too achey. I used to finish my practice and then slowly throughout the day my muscles (every muscle!) would get progressively more painful. That seems to have eased up a bit, so I’m either getting more used to it, or I’m not pushing myself as hard. And, you know, something I’ve realised through doing Yoga is that both of those things (getting used to it and not pushing so hard) are really positive.

Today’s photo is of me attempting Kurmasana; it’s one of the postures I don’t fully understand. I need to work on it, I need to find out exactly what I’m doing in it. I think it’s particularly tricky because you can’t see what you’re doing. It’s all feeling and guessing. Matt asked which posture he wanted me to photograph for the blog and I went with this because it’s one I’ve never seen on myself.

Like yesterday I’m finding that I’m running out of steam towards the end of the practice. Some days it can feel such a long way to the end of the sequence. For backbending there wasn’t much wall space to choose from, so I took my mat over to where Viki was practising in the corner on the right and nestled my head against the skirting, Viki on one side of me and a huge fly caught in a spider’s web on the other. Feeling a little like that fly, I hauled my exhausted frame into the air and decided that I would definitely go back to bed when I got home.