An Ode to Led Primary

An Ode to Led Primary

Familiar practice is the best practice. We find a repetitive meditation on the mat and this most likely happens when there isn’t much change. Ideally the start time is the same and the end time is the same. And we move at our own pace; sometimes we even luxuriate into the practice by staying longer in the postures, and enjoying extra breaths whenever we see fit.

However we all know that daily practice also comes with lethargic and heavy practices too. These are ones where we struggle to find our meditative breath and vinyasa is a tried event. We do all we can just to arrive on the mat. Seasoned practitioners as well as beginners are faced with this challenge.

There could be other obstacles in the way as well: perhaps it’s a physical, mental, intellectual or spiritual roadblock that tricks us into not practicing. These are outlined in Yoga Sutra 1.30 by Patanjali as:

Disease, lack of interest or sluggishness; lingering or doubt; pride or carelessness; idleness, sense gratification; delusion; laziness or stagnation in the practice.

But you DO have motivation, inspiration, zest and vigor to practice! You ARE dedicated and commited. So you do your best without judgement. The very shortest practice is often the best one – it isn’t the amount you do, it is the quality. And the Mysore environment provides this very personal canvas for you to practice at your own pace and your own level.

And to change this up a bit, to shake your feathers and get you out of your comfort zone, once a week we have the opportunity to change the pace and the rhythm of this daily Mysore practice by attending the led counted Primary Series class. We do all this personal work on our daily practice and then for one day in the week – we step out of our comfort zone and into the counted led class.

I often hear:
“I don’t want to do led primary fast!” says Saraswati.
“I need to go slowly to warm up longer.” says Ganesha.
“I like exploring in my own way and I like to go fast – that primary is way too slow”, says Vishnu.

The dedicated Mysorians above only want to do the practice at their own pace because they are avoiding trying something new or entering a posture without the four extra breaths they usually take. They all have their own antaraya – obstacle – towards attending led primary.

And perhaps they are enjoying staying where they are and not changing. The led class they are missing out on is meant to ruffle their feathers and get them trying something new. The dedicated yoga practitioner is looking to iron out stagnant patterns and shift from an old place to a new awareness within. Often a guided class is enough to make that shift happen.

Offering yourself to the community breath, with a dictated counted pace and a motivated announcer will bring you towards calming the mind because you do not have to think. And it is the one day of the week where all you have to do is show up, do your best and follow the leader. This could be a good experience, especially if you are lacking in motivation to practice.

Emma writes:

As a community of practitioners, who all have different and varying levels of practice, it’s important for to come together as a room and move together. There’s a camaraderie with your neighbours that is unspoken, but communicated through shared breath and sweat.

I go to led class largely because of the synchronised, collective, and communal breath we share together.  This energy is golden: you can just “ride the wave”, you don’t have to think too much but just follow the steady sanskrit count.  It instills a sense of ‘santosha’ as you are only going to be in most asanas for 5 breaths, so maybe you don’t get the bind perfectly or you can’t try it again 3 times, before you know it you are already moving though your next vinyasa. No dwelling.

I often think of led class as practice “polishing”. We are all there to just buff away the extra, the unnecessary fixing of your top or run away thoughts (Yoga Sutra 1.02 – yoga is the stilling of the mind’s fluctuations). To refine our craft of breath and movement.

Often people think “I’m not advanced enough to come to led class”, but you come, and you do as much as you do in your self practice. No fearing.  If you only come to led class, and never mysore style practice, I say “bad lady!” they are designed to work together.

Karen says:

Going to a Led Primary Series class is like singing in the choir, it brings all our individual voices together into a collective experience. The weekly Led class reboots the system. It brings us closer to the true vinyasa, and we get a reminder of the “standard” rhythm with no personal deviations. The rest of the week we are free to move at our own pace and explore our individual rhythm, which is crucial to establishing tapas within personal practice. Some practitioners tend to go a bit faster, some a bit slower, and this is natural. As a complement to the self-practice, led class keeps us always returning to the synchronicity of breath and movement in harmony with the rest of the community.
I go to Led class because its like dropping into cruise control. There is comfort in the camaraderie of a group class all working to a common beat. Together we have a stronger momentum somehow, and its joyful to lose yourself in the collective effort.

And I urge you lastly:

Led practice doesn’t have to be an obstacle. It will be a challenge but it will offer you something to complement your personal mysore practice. It is also the one day of the week where the counted Sanskrit becomes a moving meditation. Do you know the vinyasa count for Janu Sirsasana?

If you are currently practicing just half primary right now, you do half primary in the class and either sit and wait till the finishing postures come, or you take vinyasa with the group and do what you can.

I’ll see you all at led class! And maybe you’ll see Saraswati, Vishnu and Ganesha there, too.


Sarah (and Emma and Karen)

Meadowlark Yoga

Visit our studio on the edge of the Meadows, open 7 days a week offering Ashtanga Vinyasa and other styles of yoga. 43 Argyle Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1JT 0131 2287581