By Kylie Elliott
My first glimpse of yoga was in a private session with Alan Goode. After discussing the physical challenges that I was facing Alan said “Okay. Let’s see what you CAN do”. He knelt down and sat on a block, interlaced his fingers, turned is palms away from his face and raised his hands above his head. ‘Parvatanasana in Virasana’. I gingerly knelt down beside him, interlaced my fingers and raised my hands. I felt overwhelmed as I faced my broken body for the first time in years. My hands reached my forehead and stopped, the sensation I felt was so intense.
That day Alan taught me a sequence known as the Virasana cycle (Parvatanasana in Virasana, Adho mukha svanasana (AMS), Gomukhasana in Virasana, AMS, Garudasana in Virasana, AMS). As we worked Alan spoke to me about the ksoas, the layers of experience. He guided me to moderate my efforts and to observe my senses. I went away with my little sequence and an invitation to join the Remedial Program.
It had taken me a long time to get to Yoga Mandir. I had been in pain for over a decade and so I was motivated to practice daily. The Virasana cycle was soon joined by other asana that I learnt in my classes, but for at least two years this was always included in my daily practice. Over time my ability to perform the Virasana cycle gradually improved and yes, my hands finally ended up over my head. But the reason I kept practicing this cycle and still include it regularly in my practice is what it does for my mind. When I don’t think that I can practice, I just have to get onto the mat. As soon as I start, the Virasana cycle is so well known, so much a part of my practice experience, that it can quickly bring me to a place of calmness and clarity.
Practicing the Virasana cycle allows me to check in with my body, mind and emotions. What I experience is always different, but the state that I enter is constant. I love that I can practice this cycle anywhere, even when camping. But most of all I value the way it reminds me of the lessons that I first learnt when I entered the Institute. These lessons have taught me to observe what drives me, sometimes to illness and injury, to let go of my fears and desires, and to work with moderation and restraint.