Mark’s week explored wonder in yoga – and wonder generally. Wonder is a multilayered concept and he looked at it from diverse angles: the awe inherent in everyday life, and the curiosity that we can bring to daily experiences.
Wonder is one of the 9 rasas or core emotions – the others are Love, Joy, Peace, Anger, Courage, Sadness, Fear and Disgust. Wonder asks us to develop the qualities of “mystery and curiosity” leading us to experience life moment by moment as fresh, vibrant and alive.
During each asana practice he encouraged his students to be constantly examining how they felt, how their body was responding, what was new, what was different. Don’t think of your poses as good or bad, or of having a weak side and a strong side, he encouraged the group, just be curious about how you’re feeling. Notice what’s different from before.
His practice isn’t one that he pigeonholes into any particular school: he will have periods of Vinyasa flow, but then hold a pose for a long time. He will use props in one practice, but none in another. He will suddenly take a few minutes to get everyone to laugh manically and then return to the mat. Amongst the many curiosities he took us through, my favourite was one using Tree Pose. As we did the pose, he asked us to lean back into it, which was very challenging for our balance. Then we all came and stood in a line, close enough for our arms to touch at wrist level when we raised them again for Tree Pose. And this time when we leaned back, it was wonderfully easy, and somehow we were giving each other support – even though no-one was any more stable than before. That was a small wonder!
Another morning he gave everyone a blindfold and we did the whole practice without seeing each other – or the floor or the ceiling, for that matter. It demanded a much higher level of concentration as we no longer had the visual clues of what everyone else was doing – but at the same time it was curiously freeing. It completely removed any temptation to compare our asana with anyone else’s, and focussed our minds into our bodies.
There were other sessions during the week: classes on the philosophies of yoga, two yoga nidra sessions, and a daily restorative session in the late afternoon – plus nights of conversation, visits to a village across the bay and time to wander around Savusavu. A rich and satisfying week that opened up new horizons for all who were there.
Mark returns to Daku Resort in June 2013.