At 6:29am, 15 minutes into my yoga class on a beautiful Friday morning in Melbourne, my yoga teacher said something rather odd to my ears. “Friday morning classes smell so sweet compared to a Monday morning class”. My gaze was soft in child’s pose, but suddenly my eyes opened and I tried to understand what she was talking about. Much of what yoga teachers say during restorative poses usually goes unheard, but in this moment, my thoughts began to wander. Of course Friday morning classes are sweeter, it’s Friday and the weekend is here I thought to myself. After instructing us to move back into downward dog, she went on further to explain what she meant.
Apparently, on a Monday morning after we leave the class, in the room lingers a pungent, overpowering sweat smell – I’m assuming she is referring to remnants of the spaghetti marinara at the local Italian restaurant, the one too many a beer at the pub afterward, and the indulgent scoop or scoops I should say of Ben and Jerry’s.
In comparison, Friday morning apparently smells like a “rosy perspiration”…
In our class, we move through numerous sun salutations, after which we hold static poses – some standing, some seated and then there are the twists. Indian yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar describes a twist as a “squeeze and soak” action. What he means by this is when organs are compressed; we squeeze them like a sponge. This means the stale blood and toxins surrounding the organs are flushed out and fresh oxygenated blood flows in allowing the body to heal cleanse and refresh. We have organs in our body for the purpose of cleaning out unwanted material. Likewise, we use a kitchen sponge to clean unwanted grime off our pots and pans. But like we need to clean the sponge after its use, we need to do the same for our bodies. We don’t buy a new sponge every evening when washing the dishes, rather attempt to utilize it again by soaking and squeezing it. The same applies to our organs, and I’m sure you’d agree that a daily twist is cheaper than an organ replacement!!
The fresh oxygenated blood encourages better circulation, increases flexibility of the spine, shoulders and hips, and aids digestion. It is no wonder yoga has been hailed as the ultimate ‘hangover cure’. So I have no doubt in what my yoga teacher once said – luckily for her, she only taught Friday morning classes!!
My personal yoga practice has evolved over the last 4 years – from a once a week hatha style class to a five times a week vinyasa flow obsession. In addition, I meditate in the early mornings and am usually found in some sort of a twist by the TV in the evenings. I previously had a heavy gym practice, lots of running and dumbbell weights, with the occasional bout of tennis and swimming. Yes the adrenalin rush from these sports was great; I’d sweat it out, feel pumped and smash 4 weetbix every morning, but with constant soreness, tight hips and my knees giving way, I soon had to look for an alternative way to sweat it out. I started with Bikram – one word – HATE. I then moved to pilates – slightly more enjoyable. And have settled on Vinyasa Flow, and the occasional Yin class to complement the intensity of the Ashtanga style.
Simply said, my body has never felt suppler, fitter or more cleansed. I am calmer, and have developed an attitude to loving myself rather than killing myself through strenuous gym sessions. Most importantly, I have become more conscious of what I do with my body, both in its movement, use and what goes into it. The incredible thing is I still have a long way to go in opening my hips, moving into deeper variations of poses, and mastering pranayama, so I can only imagine what Samadhi must feel like – pure heaven. All I can say is get twisting…!
Written by: Priyanka Natarajan 200hr weekday TTC