Last weekend I did workshops with Carmen Aguilar. She’s wonderful to learn from. She likes her students to be ambitious. (She said: ‘if you go to the toilet 7 times, well, OK, but you’re not fooling anyone’.) Apart from that, I thought this was interesting: Carmen doesn’t believe in Sun Salutations. She doesn’t teach them because she doesn’t believe in repetitive movement patterns.
Isn’t this heresy? Saluting the sun is about your sun; greeting and honouring your sun rise, your divinity and your potential. You connect the mind to the breath, you move the spine, you stretch and strengthen, you increase the heart rate, you increase blood flow to the muscles and release endorphins, you find a rhythm to the rest of your practice, and, get this, kindle your inner fire and radiate your light, your best self! Could it be better?
Actually, yes! We try, in yoga class, to break habits and patterns yet we barely recognise our repetitive patterns and bad habits. We can bring very strong opinions about what we should look like and feel like. We bring our moods and character traits..., that could go either way! There are also the shoulder-shredding Chaturangas where shoulder-dipping and crunching might replace arm strength, and it looks painful.
Here’s what you can do in your Sun Salutations. First of all, reach up and touch your sun. Stretching upwards is such a natural thing to do to awaken the body. Second, fold forward with an exhalation and see how this release feels. Can you release? Can gravity help? Are you holding your breath? Are you allowing the body to release... is your body allowing you? Forward folding, introspective postures can decrease anxiety. Third posture is to look up, flatten the back, inflate the lungs and check your sun is still shining. Next, step back and lower in a kind of prostration (with arm strength, not shoulder dips). Then lift the heart up to Upward Facing Dog and feel your sun shining warmth on your face and radiating positivity. Then exhale and release to Downward Facing dog to feel the breath in the body.
Carmen’s favourite quote is by Joseph Campbell: “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature”. We’re all trying to do that in our own way.
I have been asked if there is a direct flight to Kythera from London for our magical Kapsali Yoga retreat in September. Well... yes there is if you want a bit of extra holiday before the retreat. Aegean Airlines will take you on an overnight flight on Tuesday 17th September, arriving Wednesday 18th and leaving on the 28th. Otherwise, you need two carriers, one to get you to and from Athens and one for the return flight to the island (see attachment). I’ve taken the boat from Piraeus Port before and I don’t think it’s worth it. I’ve never driven through the Peloponnese but it’s on my list of things to do. However you choose to come, just come!
Classes are pretty booked up next week! Crickey! You can see class availability on this website (which I update often).
Yoga in the News
The Metro has: Ex-rugby star says 'breathwork' changed his life – and it's easy to try. “Breathing properly can positively benefit your mind and body in a number of ways, from increasing or lowering your energy, managing emotional, physical and mental stress as well as increasing performance at work or at a sport”
The Guardian is providing yoga counselling with this “Fit in my 40s: how can I do Insta-friendly yoga poses?” The writer wants to do Crow Pose.
Last week, BBC News had Yoga Day: Thousands of Indians celebrate the day. Hilarious picture of PM Modi who is, I assume, surrounded by security detail!