There are a couple of sweet things from the book Ageless by Sharath Jois that I’ve been meaning to pass on to you. I like the little inspiring stories of yoga, the things that the gods get up to, the symbolism and stories.
Hanuman, the monkey god, is a great source of inspiration. He’s the one the splits pose is named after. Sharath writes how Hanuman mistook the sun for a giant mango. Easily done! He leapt from earth to seize the sun and ate it. However, the universe went dark and the gods were alerted. Only a thunderbolt from Lord Indra opened Hanuman’s mouth and the sun popped out. The gods took Hanuman’s powers away but left him with powers of strength, shape-shifting, speed, a gift of celibacy (!), a prodigious memory and the qualities of a true lover of God.
Another story of Hanuman from Sharath’s book: Hanuman had to go and get the herb Sanjivani from a Himalayan mountain to cure dying warrior Lakshmana. He leaped, as was his want, split legs and high energy over to the Himalayas. When he got there he couldn’t identify the herb so he brought the whole mountain back. He also stuck the morning sun under his arm and came back to cure the ailing Lakshmana. True devotion!
Senior Ashtanga teacher Tim Miller has adopted Hanuman as his personal god for devotional practice and strongly suggests we do to! He says ‘Hanuman represents bhakti (Divine Love), which has the power to annihilate the ego’.
I’ve been asked if partners can come along on our magical yoga retreat even if they haven’t done any yoga! (It made me think of the time that I went on a diving holiday without knowing much about diving). They’ll learn plenty during the week, no problem at all! And if diving is something you’re interested in, the Kythera Dive Center is a hop, skip and a jump away. And if you’re more of a land person, there’s canyoning and hiking. Come with us on this, our fourth retreat in beautiful Kythera, starting September 21st.
We (I) had a wonderful time in yesterday’s Ashtanga class discovering different ways to do the ever-challenging Chaturanga. Should you have a 90 degree angle in the elbow? (David Swenson said that when he started yoga in the hippy times of the 70s, hippies would never worry about such a detail as the degree of bend in the elbow!) Should you dip the shoulders to take strain off the arms? (No!). What about Day Christensen’s method of keeping the head up and letting the belly touch the floor first? It makes for a useful class to explore all the different ways our own body might understand a posture better. If there’s something you’re working on, let me know. And have a look at the latest availability in my Home Studio classes on this website.
Tomorrow, Saturday 10th, Sainaa is back at Indaba, 1.30 – 4.30, with his Handstands workshop. I’ve done this a few times and it’s just brilliant. I haven’t booked that (yet) but I’ve booked Beryl Bender Birch in September (come with me!) and on the 29th of September Kino MacGregor’s The Spiritual Journey of Ashtanga (come with me!). I’ll go to that after the Ealing Half Marathon! (Support your local Marathon!)
Yoga in the News
Well! I couldn’t resist this! The Metro has: If Nigel Farage is doing yoga, he's doing it wrong. “Perhaps he’ll discover some of the techniques that open the heart chakra”, says the writer. “This is important because if the heart chakra is too weak, a lack of trust and sense of disconnection from other human beings is almost inevitable”.
The Guardian has: Boom in wellness at festivals as young people swap hedonism for yoga. “It comes as young people turn their backs on alcohol. Research, published in the journal BMC Public Health, found more than 25% of young people classed themselves as “non-drinkers.”