Time in Kythera with yogi friends has been a fabulous and fleeting joy. It’s nearly over. I’m writing this to the sound of night crickets, the gentle hum of a generator and the swishing song of the sea and with reflections of these two retreats. Our most popular workshop so far has been Leg-Behind-Head with our mission impossible teacher Lisa Maarit Lischak. She promised in the beginning that “all you need is a head and a leg... perhaps two”. She does that every time! She makes the impossible seem doable!
In our first week here our Kythera guest teacher, Sensei Kiros, told us that we must always practice inside, not outside. He said the location of our classes, the roof-top balcony, was ‘very bad’! The idyllic view of the bays, the beautiful sea, the cloudless sky and Aphrodite’s rock were too distracting! He is, of course, right. Every time you look out over the gorgeous bay, the soul moves and the balance is lost. The whole point of the ‘drishti’ discipline in our yoga practice is to keep our sight as close to us as possible and not let the sight and the mind stray. All the way through the yoga practice your gaze should be on one of the nine drishti, gazing points: the nose, the third eye, the navel, the hand, the foot, the far right, the far left, the thumbs, up to the sky.
By being outside we’re breaking other rules too, as set out by Pattabhi Jois in his book Yoga Mala: “Yoga should neither be practiced in open air..., in a basement nor on a roof. Instead, the place of its practice should be spotlessly clean and level, have windows, and be suitable for smearing with cow dung”. Also “the body will be sapped and its power exhausted if, in an effort to dry the sweat of practice, it is exposed to the outside air.” (This he takes from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika of the 15th century which tells us to rub the body with perspiration to make the body light and strong!) There! You’ve been told!
The next retreat I’m teaching is the October Happiness and Wellbeing retreat in Totnes run by Deborah Smith of GrowYour Own Happiness. But I’m writing this in my favourite place on earth and thinking of next year. Teachers are always disappointed with my chosen month of September so, if you fancy coming to Kythera in the summer half term in May, let me know.
I’m back with a tan next week. You can see what’s available on the ‘classes’ page of this website.
If the OM yoga Show isn’t your thing, Triyoga Soho has the perfect antidote: Dr Jacques Anthony Soyer and Tracy Elner: Breath, Stillness, Movement + Modern Medicine. It’s on the 20th of October at 10:00 - 13:00..They combine Hindu Yoga and Taoist Neijia, teach Pranayama, moving Qi Gong, and explain how we can use different systems of breathing to balance and heal various systems within the body.
Yoga in the news
This is quite funny from the Telegraph: ‘What no one tells you about life as a yoga teacher’. It doesn’t reflect my experience but it’s a good read. Another effort to demystify comes from the Belfast Telegraph; ‘Thinking about starting yoga? Here’s what you should know’. Of the four examples the best one is: ‘“Yoga improves the body’s circulation and this includes blood flow to the brain. It promotes growth in the prefrontal cortex, the region associated with response, memory and attention span. Even after a short 30 minute class, you’ll notice a heightened sharpness.
Please get the sun out for our return.