Practicing at the Dharma Shala

Today has been a long day. Up at 5am to catch the 5:49 train to London to practice at the Dharma Shala in Euston. I had a mid morning client meeting which meant that I had to buy a peak-time train ticket – £42! So I thought why not use the opportunity to go and practice at the Dharma Shala, aka Astanga Yoga London (AYL) aka Hamish’s.

Hamish is one of 2 certified (see footnote) teachers in the UK and he’s backed by a team of highly regarded authorised teachers at the shala. You can check out their biographies on the AYL website. You really do get a sense of the lineage of Ashtanga Yoga at the shala which I really appreciate.

Door to door the journey took 2 hours. The shala is a house with the front rooms converted into practice rooms, changing rooms and what may have been a shower or toilet. You start practicing in one room and Hamish calls out ‘One more’ and you move into the bigger room as someone else is finishing up.

The room was much warmer (hot!) than I’m used to so I was sweating profusely half way through the sun salutations. I was also really nervous. I’ve not practiced Mysore style outside of Brighton and I’d never met anyone (teachers or students) so it was all new, exciting and a bit edgy. In order to keep myself grounded I really focused on my breathe and dristi.

I may have been a little too focused because I couldn’t identity in a police line-up any of the people who I practiced with this morning!

The atmosphere in the shala is amazing and it reminded me of the first time I experienced a Mysore room here in Brighton. It’s a place of warm, silent, sweaty devotional intensity. I love it! I flew through my practice and what normally takes 2 hours took 1.5 hours. I’m not sure how that happened!

It’s well worth the trip and I’d love to do a couple of weeks practicing there and am just in the process of working out the costs. A big thank you to my friend who shall remain nameless for all the details on getting to the shala, most helpful indeed 😉

Now it’s time to cook dinner and get an early night to get to practice in Brighton tomorrow. Oh the luxury of a short walk!

Footnote: The other certified teacher is Philippa Asher who teaches at Triyoga Soho.

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