Sunday, 17 March 2013

Freezing Ashtanga in a Norfolk Yurt, Deepdale Camping

 
Last weekend M. and I went away to the Norfolk coast, plan was to just get away from the house for a few days, get some fresh air (be careful what you wish for), stay (and practice) in a Yurt...oh and perhaps do some birdwatching.

Both of us a bit embarrassed about the birdwatching, kind of said under our breath, Birdwatching? really?, Don't tell anyone says M. (Of course not honey, who would I tell). Neither of us have expressed an interest before but hey, we like looking at the little buggers in the garden so why not. As it happens we are dreadful Birders, Birders it seems wear a LOT of camouflage, M. and I were in bright red and yellow. Birders say things like,

"Ahh an Avocet, small for this time of year",

we say

M: "Whats that one"?
Me: "I don't know, some kind of duck".

As it happens we loved the first day of it, our yurt was just down the road from the RSPB Titchwell bird reserve where you can rent serious binoculars (a revelation), had a great day.


RSPB Titchwell map
Norfolk Nature reserve at Cley
Second day at the Cley Norfolk nature reserve, meh, not so much. Seems at Cley the hides are to hide the birds from you rather than you from the birds...unless you cough up a fee on top of the fancy bins ( oh yeah, I'm down with the lingo all right...hang on, seems Birdwatchers refer to them as Bins, Birders call them optics).

So what of the Yurt.


Our Yurt, Looks cosy doesn't it. however...
 
This is the picture in their advertisement, look at that huge stove, I know worst looking Yurt ever but was the only one near where we wanted to be.
Hmmmmmm.

"Bit chilly for a tent this time of year"? I was asked before I went. Au contrair, a yurt is NOT a tent, it's a highly sophisticated and damned cosy sleeping abode, they use them on the Mongolian steppes for heaven sake, Norfolk will be fine. Ok, it's a KIND of Tent...OK OK it's a tent, we stayed in a tent in Norfolk in march, but Yurt's are Cosy dammnit, my friend Maya lives and blogs in one all year round, brings up kids, raises novels.

Well they are cosy if the campsite coughs up and pays to include the"essential" insulation ( a felt inner layer that keeps said Yurt cool in summer and ...well cosy in winter. Also a decent size wood stove as well as a nice winter duvet and plenty of extra blankets (just in case).

The site of our Yurt, DeepDale Camping (basically a campsite on a farm) didn't bother with the "essential" felt layer of insulation, the stove was half the size of the one in the picture, the duvet was a summer one and nope, no extra blankets.

Perhaps they shouldn't have been renting their Yurts out in March...at least not without the "essential felt layer of insulation, the decent size stove, winter duvet and extra blankets.,,,because we froze...and then we froze some more.



I spent five years travelling and sleeping rough in my twenties but I have to say, our two nights at DeepDale Camping were probably the two most miserable of my life and I've been caught sleeping rough hitching across the French Alps ( having to fill my little tent with pine branches to stay alive), I've also dug myself out of a snow drift in the morning while sleeping in nothing but a Swiss army sleeping bag....did I mention it was more miserable than both those times at DeepDale Camping.

I wonder what it's like in Summer, the "essential felt insulation" being wool it keeps the Yurt cool in summer, as well as warm in winter, lot of surface area to a Yurt, I imagine it's baking mid summer without it.

To be fair to DeepDale Camping the Yurt was spotlessly clean as were the facilities and they even asked us how we enjoyed our stay. When I mentioned that it had been much too cold and that I thought the stove was too small they mentioned that they had had a lot of trouble about that ( clearly others had complained about the cold) and that they had checked and the stove fitted the specification of the yurt. They're no doubt correct...assuming they'd included the "essential felt insulation". I mentioned too the duvet being a summer one but they just said it was brand new...they didn't say anything about the lack of extra blankets, think she was getting fed up by then, perhaps it was a rhetorical "How was your stay".

Our Yurt....it snowed
M caught A cold, I went down with gastric flu.

I did manage to practice however, once.


Sunday morning I woke up, stoked the little stove, crammed if full of wood, put my Santorini Maduka lite as close to the stove as I dared and did Primary, heavy on the Ujjayi wearing layers upon layers, stripping them off as I went through the practice and then putting them back on again one by one through finishing.

M. woke up and snapped a couple of shots, even a little pranayama video before jumping back under the summer duvet and chair throws.


 
Practicing in thermals, looks like an old 70's yoga leotard
 

Practice was good, straight primary, hard and fast to keep the heat up and get a little sweat on but how do you do Garbha Pindasana in tights? What is Kino talking about, my shorts are much easier, in the Supta Kurmasana exit too.

 

Ashtanga is seems is back on the menu, nothing busts rajas like Primary, great for immediate post bereavement, the freezing cold and, I don't know, primary, it's home from home.

 

Why Primary series?

Here's something I wrote on Small Blue Pearls blog last week that sums it up nicely for me how I feel about Primary currently, seems it comes out of my head better in a comment somewhere else than when I try to encapsulate it here on my own blog

"I guess I'm spoiled practicing at home in that I can do what I want or what feels right, but I look at Primary now and I kind of see it in bold with these shadowy images behind and around it. If I focus on the shadows I see the vinyasa kramas around each posture, preparation postures, extensions, options lots of options. Focus in another way and I'm seeing breath focus options in each posture, longer slower, fuller breaths, longer stays, breath retentions and in yet another shift of focus drishti options, chakras, marma points, internal gazing, one drishti point throughout, bandhas...it's like all these ghostly images, echoes, surrounding the series, quite beautiful actually. And it's all Krishnamacharya, all ashtanga, all there at the time he was teaching Pattabhi Jois. For 2nd series I tend to practice Ramaswami's Bow followed by parts of his Meditative sequence which is pretty much the first half of standard 2nd series anyway but with a few extra prep postures.

Wish I'd read Matthew's article (Matthew Sweeney Evolution of Ashtanga) three four years ago when I was first having these questions, being slammed somewhat for it (no doubt I was clumsy in my presentation) and barely having the confidence to trust my intuition, it was nice watching/listening to some of the panel discussions I posted recently on what's REALLY important in the practice. Mostly I think it's that you just turn up everyday and practice, with honesty and commitment... and remember to breathe. Time for practice"

Mar 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergrimmly


So I'm back to Primary in the evenings and my Vinyasa Krama practice in the morning, mostly focussing on Bow and Meditative series backbends in the morning practice along with long stays in the key daily postures, paschimottanasana, head and shoulder stands, Maha Mudra, baddha konasana and more time for pranayama and meditation. In the evening my Ashtanga is slow with the long full inhalations and exhalations, I tend not to include the shoulderstand and headstands in the evening as I practice them in the morning, so a shorter finishing sequence, seems to be working nicely.

 

12 comments:

  1. I loved what you wrote Grimm, very beautiful. I believe I'm following in your footsteps a bit, going to add in other sequences including exploration of Vinyasa Krama but always do a Primary somewhere in the week.

    As for yurts, the Cave Yogi, the corgi and I stayed in one on the California Coast during a wind storm. No sleep for man woman or beast. Flapping wildly the whole night long. Pretty much the last time we'll sign up for that!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Laura, strange how it comes out better elsewhere. re "but always do a Primary somewhere in the week". I find it good to keep Friday Primary as pretty much sacrosanct, despite all my exploration of Vinyasa Krama or different approaches to Ashtanga there are only a handful of Friday's I've missed over the years. Gives a certain stability plus whatever series anyone is on everyone practices Primary on Friday, gives a nice connection somehow.

    YES, Yurts are NOISY, felt like a hurricane outside

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Krishnamacharya's Ashtanga Yoga and BIRDWATCHING at Home" ..... A wee bit too wordy I suppose.

    Welcome back to your evening primary. There's a very special quality in doing a series that is so familiar, that it frees up most of your concentration for the breath isn't there.

    I had never heard of Yurts before. It must be a great experience, but perhaps in the Springtime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still haven't finished the post on the last blog title change.

      True there is something about that familiarity...although I find i don't need to think about the vinyasa krama sequences or what I'll be practicing there either, they're intuitive and I've been doing them often enough now also. But there IS something about Ashtanga Primary, that 'glorious accident' of a practice that gets under your skin somewhat after a couple of thousand times doing it.

      I went to a guy in Wells for four days of Vinyasa krama lessons in a Yurt he had in his garden back in 2010

      Delete
  4. This post was so funny and then sad because being cold is NO FUN and then interesting with the reflection on Sweeney's article. I approach it the way i do with my Dad who is a health nut, I don't tell him what I eat but I don't worry about it, and I don't advertise to the teachers or students at the shala how I practice but I practice how I wish. Full primary, part of intermediate, Sweeney's Moon or Lion series here or there, some pranayama and some meditation, and then some simple joint limbering exercises on Saturday. It is our practice.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Always seemed such a shame that those who love to go to a shala for their self practice have to keep their practice secret and save it for when practicing at home, be nice if after, say, the first year it really was self practice. Is that workable....I may open my own to find out sometime. I heard there's a video of Matthew's Moon sequence, wouldn't mind seeing that, i have his Vinyasa krama book but don;t think i ever tried the sequences.

    Just got up and can hear a mouse moving about in a little trap i set last night, poor bugger couldn't resist whole earth crunchy nut peanut butter....these traps are supposed to be humane but I still have to let him out into the cold....feel a little bad about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think, for me, it depends on what purpose the shala serves, generally, and for you. This is a Mysore Ashtanga shala so I will go there to learn the Ashtanga sequence. They are of the more relaxed variety (the head teacher was authorized by SKPJ in 2002 I believe) so students are not held back if they can't achieve binding in Mari D or Supta Kurmasana or can't do dropbacks. I go there a couple of times a week to learn the sequence, learn the tradition from a teacher who spent a lot of time studying with SKPJ, and have a yoga community.
      Then I can go home and practice what I have learned, as well as keep learning from myself. On other days I will do Intermediate up to Ustrasana for balance, and the Moon and Lion series to work on those areas neglected by the Primary Series: tight shoulders, tight hips, tight sacrum, and give some relief from the upper body workout.
      I am sure my routines will keep changing in response to....well everything. I am not someone who goes to a shala everyday, it is my home practice which is important. For those who go to a shala everyday, no doubt they are limited as to what teaching they will get beyond Ashtanga.
      I think your shala would be a very valuable addition to the Krishnamacharya yoga world...........

      Delete
  6. You poor things! I am not made for the cold and would have been beyond miserable at the lack of insulation and heating. I hope the birdwatching made up for it.

    Writing up my thoughts following a weekend with Nancy and Matthew's article, so I will save my rambling for the blog, but I think you summed it up perfectly in this line: "Mostly I think it's that you just turn up everyday and practice, with honesty and commitment... and remember to breathe. "

    Hope the gastric bug is gone!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Was pretty miserable, we'll laugh at it, first day was actually nice.

    just read and commented on your post ( comment got long, sorry).

    Yep bug gone : ) day off today, gonna take a warm bath now before a morning 2nd. Haven't practiced the full Intermediate sequence for a while, tend to settle on Primary and then the first part of 2nd (up to Kapo) in a vinyasa Krama approach, be amused to see if I can still get my karandavasana back up.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anthony Grim Hall - at times you crack me up! ... so funny. Other times - you are so insightful!
    Please don't ever stop writing :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm thinking you should bring the 70s yoga leotard back en vogue. Good timing for a new yoga fashion trend given that many of Lululemon's pants were just recalled this week. Not sure about the Garbha aspect though (and agree with you - much easier in shorts!). Though I've been doing mostly VK-type practices of late, I find myself doing primary to bust through jet lag or illness, both of which I've had recently. Sometimes, that series works to heal and return a feeling of balance like nothing else. Kristen

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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