About a decade ago I had depression. I spent a lot of time sleeping on the sofa! There was absolutely no way of lifting my energy or positivity. Today I don’t have depression and I can hardly comprehend what it’s like to have it. When I was in it, I couldn’t imagine coming out of it. I wish I had understood yoga better then but the inner ruminations of the practice was not something that was ever mentioned!
I’m reminded of this because of passages in the book about Sri K Pattabhi Jois that I am finding all-consuming at the moment. The following thoughts on integrating the body and the breath are from Graeme Northfield, a trained nurse with a rare spinal condition before he took up yoga. He says we should aim to practice with feeling... ‘to actually feel our body, to have sensation in our body.’ ‘Westerners tend to be in their minds. It’s important that we transform from being in our heads to being in our bodies in a feeling way.’ ‘You want to get out of your mind.’ Graeme Northfield says that’s how we let go of the chitter-chatter of the mind and become conscious of the feeling in the heart – where you find acceptance, non-judgment and being present.
I think if this had been explained to me, it might have helped. Who knows! Once you learn the repetitive Ashtanga system you move through it instinctively, just watching the breath and letting go of the mind. This isn’t just for conditions like depression. This is for all of us. Taking a break from the chitter-chatter is the whole point of yoga. It's how we attempt to make the mind a more skilful instrument for daily use.
My new Beginners’ Ashtanga class on Tuesday 6.00pm was a rip-roaring success – no one booked! I have a feeling you’d like another stretchy class. However, I will persist. We will learn the ‘opening chant’ and the names of postures and go into some anatomical detail of postures – you can bring a notebook and take notes. There’s plenty of space in all of the classes next week. You can book here.
Yoga in the news
Uh oh! This is worrying. We yogis are polluting the seas with the fibres from our yoga clothes! The Times (subscription only) and ABC News tell us that ecologists in Florida found that microfibres from synthetic fabrics are more common in the seas than the micro-beads recently banned from cosmetic products. ABC reports on one clothing company that is supporting research into microfiber pollution ways to minimize microfiber shedding in laundry. Uh oh!
The London Marathon is just around the corner and I’m lucky enough to teach a lot of runners. They will know that yoga is not an hour of excruciating judgement on how flexible they are! It’s about improving range-of-motion and minimizing injury when pounding the pavement. This a lovely article on why runners should befriend their yoga teacher! (PS. Runners come to class with a lot more strength than most and therefore have an advantage in many postures.)
This Sunday has perfect weather for running! Enjoy!