The time we spend in any yoga class is very limited. Self-study (Svadhyaya), and expanding our perspective, is integral to yoga practice and philosophy.
If you know me (are on my mailing list, or like my Facebook page), you'll know that I like to share things I find interesting, or think will be of interest. The following lists some resources that I have found particularly useful in developing, investigating, and questioning my personal practice and my teaching; or, more simply, how I am, and how I want to be, in the world.
Some resources are yoga-specific, others take a more sideways view. Make your own connections, be open and curious, and maintain a healthy level of skepticism: in the words of Danny Paradise, 'trust the message, not the messenger - the messenger always has their own problems'.
This list will continue to evolve. If you have questions, recommendations, or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Any suggestions for how this list could be most usefully organised are also very welcome. Read More
If you are thinking of setting any New Year's resolutions (especially of the yoga kind), my unasked-for advice is to keep them simple, long-term, and bullshit free. There is room for improvement in all of us, but nobody is getting an overnight transformation. We don't suddenly need a different 'bod' to the one we had yesterday; we don't need to punish ourselves for indulging in too many mince pies, and we certainly don't need to pay for a service, object, or miraculous foodstuff that claims it will sort our lives out for us (especially if an amount of days is specified).
I'm not trying to downtalk New Year's resolutions; sometimes a change, or a challenge, is exactly what we need. New Year, like the first, crisp, blank page in a fresh, new notebook (who doesn't love that?) can be useful for garnering the energy to take action. It's the pursuit of being somebody else, somebody we idealise as being 'better' than we already are, that I take issue with. Our 'goodness' does not rest on a conditional and projected sense of self. We can all be better, sure, but we don't need to defer our wellbeing to the completion of a self-appointed task.
Instead of "When I lose weight/drink less/quit smoking, I will be happy", we could think "I am going to lose weight/drink less/quit smoking because my health is important".
Instead of "When I can meditate for an hour, I will be content", we could think "I'm going to set aside some time to meditate because I am curious about my state of mind".
Instead of "When I can perform Pincha Mayurasana (forearm stand), I will be good at yoga" we could think "I'm going to practise [insert challenging posture] because I am interested to see if I can redefine the limits of what I believe to be possible at this moment in time."
Perhaps this can be viewed as a lesson in self-marketing trickery - glass half-empty, versus glass half-full - but I can't shake the thought that a month spent 'detoxing' compels us to spend a month believing that we (or the lives we lead) are toxic. I struggle to see how this belief could help any of us in perpetuity. (Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.) Read More
So what is Room, how do we make room, and what does 'room' mean for our yoga practice?
Let's look at some definitions:
1. A space that can be occupied or where something can be done.
To illustrate how 'room' can refer to a space that has some potential, the dictionary uses the example: 'she made room for Josh on the sofa'. Now, this may not be a very yogic example of the word but if we break this sentence down, we can identify three necessary components of finding room for our practice: recognition, inclination and action.
(Don't worry, 'she made room for yoga on the sofa' is not where I'm going with this...).
In order to make room for yoga (or any other person, pursuit or thing) we first need to recognise that there is room; be willing to make room and then actually go about creating that room.
Having the inclination to make room is key; the fact that you want to, can create space where previously there was none.
(Ok, so it turns out, 'she made room for yoga on the sofa' is exactly where I'm going with this...).
There might not be any room on the sofa, you might not like Josh and you might just stay sat exactly where you are. But - and it's a big but - you could always give up your seat, you could choose to sit on the floor, and if you really don't like Josh, why is he in your house anyway? Read More