Yoga is Dope

Dear Yogis.

I write this from Finland in the beautiful haze of its late evening sunset. I’m learning the traditional technique of teaching ‘Yoga Chikitsa’, yoga therapy and healing, with Manju Jois. This was the original use of yoga in Mysore in the 1930s when Manju’s father, Sri K Pattabhi Jois started teaching. Doctors would send hopeless cases to do yoga and be cured.

On our first day in class, Manju spontaneously recalled the simple and easy time of 1975 when he and his father took Ashtanga yoga to the hippies in California. “Everyone wanted to get high one way or another and when they started yoga they were already high. They all had the same kind of smile. My father did not understand why they were smiling. Then everyone was saying :’Oh man, there’s a new drug in town called yoga’. So that’s how it started. Everyone was looking for some kind of escape or some kind of answer.”

Manju said in those days it was very, very simple everybody just enjoyed yoga. It was never serious. “Yoga is a beautiful subject if you do it right. You’ll be happy all the time. But if you do it wrong it’s the satanic version. You get angrier and angrier. When people take it too seriously they ruin everything and become like militant sergeants”.

“The 70s was great. Nobody was serious. They practiced yoga, smoked dope, and drank carrot juice. Instead of rules and regulations it was free yoga”. (Interesting to learn that Guruji never preached giving up drugs. He just taught the yoga and let people move away from drugs themselves.)

Home Studio

After a week off, there are plenty of spaces available next week. I’ve missed you and, if you’re interested, I’ll demonstrate some of the yoga massage that I’ve studied this week. So far we have been concentrating on the back (scoliosis) and a small amount of knee therapy. All classes but the Tuesday class have spaces. On Thursday we can have a go at Mysore style yoga. Book a place online here.

Yoga in the News

Here’s an article that tells you who the best yoga teachers in London are. It’s a surprise list. I know a few and the others look interesting. Some of the more obvious names are not there, though, so I’m guessing this is the personal favourite list of the writer.

The New Scientist weighs in on the subject of yoga and depression and reports on a study which looks at the ‘link between meditation, which is at the core of many yoga styles, and boosted insulin production and slower cellular ageing. Yoga may also dampen down inflammation genes. (If you’re interested in the links between stress, sleep, hormones and weight loss, FMTV carries an entertaining interview with Jon Gabriel who lost 230lbs by rediscovering sleep!)