This Friday Email is a bit lovely dovey because I am giving a reading at the wedding tomorrow of two wonderful yogis. The reading is about the love that remains after the madness of falling in love subsides. Of course, what is left is devotion and oneness. Now, how to relate this to yoga? It’s so easy! Love is one of the pillars of yoga!
There are different types of yoga named in the Bhagavad Gita, that cornerstone of yoga literature. They suit different types of personality; intellectual, emotional and physical. One is Karma Yoga – living through action and good deeds, like Mother Theresa. Another is Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge to suit the intellectual type. Raja Yoga captures the physical type – this is the one we are most familiar with through the Ashtanga system. And for the emotional type, there is Bhakti Yoga, the path of love and devotion to a higher being. Your ‘higher being’ might be ‘the universe’ or a deity or the sound Om which represents the fathomless, the root of all life.
In India and Sri Lanka devotion is an everyday occurrence – from offerings at the temple to bowing down to touch the feet of elders. Here in the west, it isn’t our custom. Some yogis follow the Hindu tradition where you can choose your personal deity. Consider Hanuman, the monkey god, who totally devoted himself to his friend King Ram. Because of his faith and devotion, he was capable of fearlessness and of accomplishing the greatest tasks. Hanuman told King Ram that he ‘even the fibres of my heart have your name written upon them and with each “thump thump” the chant “Ram Ram” quietly sounds’. If only I could use my heart like that.
In a difficult situation I sometimes ask myself: ‘What would yoga do? and I try to recall some philosophy or mythical character or even maybe a word like ‘devotion’. I don’t always get an answer but the question itself helps. More to the point, there’s a line in a book, The Yogi’s Roadmap, which sometimes pops into mind. The line was at the end of a poem: ‘What would love do now?’. Ahhhhh! This brings me back to the whole point of trying to live in a yogic way.
The Greek retreats are now advertised on BookYogaRetreats.com. There have been cancellations due to family situations and broken limbs so a couple of new spaces are available. Details are still on the retreat pages on my website. If you don’t want to fly, I’m teaching the yoga segment on the Happiness Retreat in South Devon, October 12th-15th! Details also on my website.
People are doing so well in this heat. The studio is small, the fans are blasting and the effort is inspiring. New yogis have become regulars. Ashtanga in this heat will focus on the seated postures. Who needs more Sun Salutations!. For next week’s classes you can see what’s available here. (I update this before posting this email.) You can book here.
Tomorrow, the brilliant Iyengar teacher Khaled Kendsi will be taking a workshop from 2.00-4.30, at Triyoga Ealing. I can’t recommend his classes highly enough.
Brilliant, brilliant Ashtanga teacher Alain Zaks will be teaching at Yoga West on Monday, 16:00-17:15, Ashtanga - Level 1-2. He is also assisting in a ‘Jumping through and other ashtanga transitions’ workshop with Alex Blanchflower Tomorrow, Saturday 28th at 13:15 - 15:15
I’ll be going to a Handstand Workshop with Saina (Janchivdorj Sainbayar) at the London School of Acrobats & Hand Balance this Sunday from 1.30-4.30pm. It’s for beginners and intermediate handstanders for £50! Come with me. It’s at St Stephen’s Church, Pond Street NW3 2PP.
Yoga in the news
In a Yoga-Gone-Wrong story, CNN reports: ‘Thieves take hundreds of leggings from Lululemon stores in San Francisco Bay area’. And I think the security policy is straight out of the Yoga Sutras… ‘Employees are not allowed to confront or chase thieves due to a company policy, CNN affiliates reported.