Tempted by Temperance

Dear Yogis

Are you trying Veganuary or Dry January? Are you harnessing the magic energy of the New Year and taking the plunge? I read that February this year will see the British Heart Foundation’s Dechox campaign– you give up chocolate for the shortest month of the year! In March, Lent will begin on the 6th so you’ll need something else to forgo till April 18th. We can think about the other months later but caffeine will need to claim one of the subsequent months! Pairing down wants and needs and navigating the way towards essentials means that treats are all the more appreciated in an uncluttered life.

I am particularly interested in Dry January since I heard this week of someone being refused a pay rise at work because, HR said, they provide ‘Beer O’Clock’. I couldn’t help thinking that promotion of drink at work and pressure from an employer to drink has an unsavoury past. History finds many examples of rulers who created a pliable workforce and increased tax revenue by promoting taverns and liquor licences. My mother’s father was a member of the Temperance Movement in Ceylon and Hansard in 1912 records how ‘minor English officials’ harassed members of the movement (which became the independence movement!). Under apartheid, the ‘dop system’ was one in which employers pay their labourers with cheap wine, kept them addicted, dependent and loyal to the farm or vineyard.

Back to yoga! Traditional yoga suggests avoidance of alcohol because it clouds the mind. If yoga is about stilling the mind, it’s incompatible with yoga and the focus on meditation. Regular yoga practice highlights effects of drinking, perhaps lethargy, unhealthy digestion or constant colds. In yoga terms this is ‘Tamasic’, one of the three basic human qualities (Gunas), the others being Ragastic (activity) and Sattvic (goodness). In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna describes the Gunas and says that Tamas ‘Is born of inertia. It binds by ignorance, laziness, and sleep.’

Try it for January! It’s more radical than you think!

Home Studio

Yogis are working hard in the first classes of the year. It’s a total pleasure to see the little Home Studio full of hard-working yoga practitioners. There’s plenty of room next week. Come along. You can see availability on this website.

Yoga in the news

The Observer in Uganda has: How yoga is saving lives of street kids. In the largest slum in Uganda an American started yoga classes, picking up children from the slum area and from the street for yoga, a hot meal and protection from police raids.

 Should yoga be compulsory at work? asks My Business. The article says that ‘several companies around the world have already trialed making such programs mandatory for their staff: Swedish company Björn Borg has reportedly introduced compulsory gym sessions for its staff each Friday, while KPMG reportedly included sessions on yoga and mindfulness as part of a three-day course for its auditors in the UK.’

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