A quiet revolution

There is no denying that there is a lot of pretty shitty stuff going on just now in the world – what with the POTUS being such a caricature of Dr. Evil – a whole load of young people being misled into thinking that blowing themselves up or ramming people with vans will be good for them , for God and for Islam – the people of Britain being scaremongered into Brexit, making the most divisive and stupid decision in centuries – a bunch of misguided neo-nazis, white supremacists and other general right wingers, suddenly feeling entitled and empowered by the likes of Trump, Farage and company – and the list goes on!

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The end of hate

Do you ever find that some changes, even some pretty dramatic ones, kind of creep up on you? That seems to happen a lot to me the more I practice Yoga and meditation.

Twisted plant

And yes, I am a lot more flexible, I can do poses that a few years ago I would have thought impossible, but the biggest changes, the important and most rewarding ones are totally internal.

The other day  I was having a conversation with a friend about how Yoga and meditation had totally changed my worldview. And while I was describing some of the changes, I realised something I hadn’t quite verbalised, not even internally, yet: I seem to have lost the ability to hate.

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Polishing the mirror

I’m on my way back from Mysore, in the lovely state of Karnataka in India. I spent two weeks practising Ashtanga Yoga with Saraswathi Jois and taking philosophy classes with Arvind Pare.

With Arvind we unpacked and studied a number of mantras and prayers, explored chapter 12 of the  Bhagavad Gita and studied chapter one of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

I had two goals for this trip, deepen my studies of Yoga philosophy and “get back” my Ashtanga practice. Ashtanga is traditionally meant to be practiced six days a week, ideally first thing in the morning, Most Ashtanga practitioners will tell you that building a home practice is not easy. Ashtanga is intense and the practice takes a minimum of an hour. Since I started teaching more and more classes I have let that morning practice slip. I would do some Yoga, and always do meditation, but hardly ever would I do my full Ashtanga practice. And you know what? I missed it dearly.

Dirty mirror

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Why all that weirdness?!?

I often start my classes with a short Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing, practice. I am aware that if you have not practised it before it can seem quite awkward, and even if you HAVE practised it before, it can seem a bit out there and woo-woo. 
I know because when I started practising Yoga, I was very sceptical about a lot of this stuff!
Yogi performing Nadi Shodhana
Why make that failed star trek gesture with the hand and do that weird nose thing anyway!? But it can have tangible benefits.

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Full circle

In 2008 I booked myself on a freediving course in the Submarine Escape Training Tank (SETT) in Gosport, England (which was an amazing experience by the way, here’s a video showing what it’s about) and as a preparation for it, they recommended doing some Yoga.

Enso symbol

At that point I had never done any Yoga, I had  issues with a replaced hip and was rather brutally unfit. I, therefore, decided I  couldn’t possibly attend a regular class (sigh), and so asked the Yoga teacher at the local gym whether she’d be willing to do some one on one sessions with me. Continue reading