I was in Marquette, Michigan, for the Fourth of July holiday this past weekend. It was less scheduled than most of my getaways, which gave me the opportunity to spend time checking out potentially interesting practice spaces.
What I realized during my location scouting in Marquette was how much my attitude had changed toward practicing while traveling. Next month will mark three years since I began practicing six days a week. During my first winter of daily practice, I wanted to plan everything in advance when traveling: What type of space will I have? Will there be heaters? What if there aren’t heaters? Will I have any moon days or rest days during the trip? I wanted conditions as close to ideal as possible.
Now I just take my mat and usually, I find the most conducive, workaday spot. Hotel room, crash space, state park cabin — there’s always a spot with enough room. This weekend, though, having time and the warmth of summer on my side allowed me to have a little fun. Such a treat!
This was where I wanted to practice — a little slab in Marquette’s Lower Harbor, with just enough space for a mat. It actually looked to me like it was designed for a mat. Maybe I’m a little biased, though.
But the morning I could have practiced there, it rained. Even though I’m less into ideal conditions, I wasn’t about to practice in cold rain.
One day, I was hiding in plain site in the courtyard next to the town’s oldest hotel. It was a great spot, made even greater by the incredibly loud noise coming out of the hotel’s generator (or whatever the huge contraption hiding behind that fence was). Pratyhara seemed to arise easily with that wall of sound.
My second day of practice, I found the same hotel’s Sky Room, where weddings and other functions are held. It’s a beautiful space on the top floor of the six-floor Landmark Inn, and it overlooks the water.
The best part of this space was the ceiling — which, of course, if drishti — our passive gaze that is maintained during practice — is properly kicked on, you’re not supposed to pay attention to. I must admit that I got a kick out of the cherubs, though.
I don’t have a photo of what has to be the single most unusual place I’ve ever practiced: the inner sanctum of the one of the Masonic temples in Vancouver, Canada. I went to a David Swenson workshop in 2009 and I’ll never get over the fact that on the final day of the training, we were moved from the normal room that they usual rent out to groups to a room with thrones and portraits. We all knew this was the room where Important and Secretive Matters Are Discussed. And were practicing ashtanga yoga in it. It was — just so damn cool.
How about you? Any particularly interesting or unusual practice spots?
While we’re on this topic — earlier this year, did you catch the inspiring Runways poster from Small Blue Pearls? It features one of my photos, of my mat and rug next to a hotel swimming pool. (Preferences aside, heat does matter, and if heat is an issue — especially in hotels with a proclivity for blasting the A/C — I have found that if there’s a pool room, the extra heat and humid helps.) And have you ever caught what inspired this poster project in the first place? On occasion, you’ll find practice photos — Runways — on the Ashtanga Yoga: Ann Arbor Facebook page.
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