I have a little four-hour, once-a-week job at Triyoga Ealing on Sunday afternoons. I potter around cleaning up, refilling water bottles, replacing incense sticks, preparing studios and helping yogis and teachers. It’s a lovely job in a peaceful place so, quite by contrast, I heard a frustrated yogi coming out of a class announcing: ‘Don’t give me philosophy! Just give me yoga’. Hmmmm. Well, I’m not so sure I was very different back in the day.
It's possible to be a yoga practitioner without ever touching yoga postures. The inverse is also true - you can practice yoga without an interest in the ‘mind stuff’... but why not get a personal trainer and work the body that way? The physical results are quicker and there’s absolutely no philosophy.
But you’re drawn to yoga! You don’t need to acknowledge it but you’re meditating for the length of the class. However dynamic the class is, breath-focus means that calm is encouraged in the mind. The definition of yoga from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is to still the fluctuations of the mind. If you know nothing more about yoga philosophy than that, it’s enough! The waves are not separate from the sea. The shapes we make are not separate from yoga tradition.
My lucky Home Studio has welcomed a lot of new yogis recently. It’s such an honour to introduce new yogis or rekindle the enthusiasm of lapsed yogis. There are plenty of places to book for next week,
Greek Yoga Retreat
I bought my tickets for London - Athens - Kythera and I have a couple of observations. The first is to watch the baggage restrictions between BA and Aegean and Sky Express. I got the first flight out of Heathrow which leaves an enormous amount of time at Athens airport so the second observation is that there’s time for a leisurely meal in the hotel opposite the airport. The same on the way back with the late flight from Athens to London. All details are on my website including suggested flights. If you want help with booking, call or email Eleanor Docarragal, at the Flight Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org and her number is 0208 840 9179.
Tomorrow I’m off to Winchester for the Day Christensen workshops. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there.
Yoga in the News
On the Simon Mayo Radio 2 show yesterday Simon discussed the diaphragm with a clip from actor Martin Shaw and then with guest Christen Linklater, a voice coach. (Wind forward to approx 17 minutes into the programme). She explains that it’s the primary breathing muscle and closely related to the emotional nerve centre - your solar plexus. She mentions that when people ‘hold the stomach’ it makes the breath go into the upper lungs and is ‘restricted’. (In Ashtanga, the instruction is to hold the ’Uddiyana Bandha’ or squeeze the lower abdominal muscles in for exactly this reason – David Keil anatomy here if you’re interested.) She ends with the importance of sighing! It’s a nice listen.