Revolution

There is no revolution without casualties. We’re living in a time of revolution. For most of us, we are observers to the momentous happenings in the world. It is as though we have bought tickets for the theatre without checking what we’re going to see. Some of the happenings in the world are horrendous, sickening, vile. Death is visiting our planet and we watch, like a theatre audience, barely believing what we’re seeing unfold.

‘No man is an island’. What happens to folk in the world is happening to each one of us. Like an audience that is moved and stirred by a play, we are involved in the news; we are involved in the deaths; we are involved in the protests. It is impossible to live through this time of history in the making without being affected.

I have always believed that yoga teachers and committed yogis are the healers and the cleansers of the planet. I did a straw poll on how yoga teachers are sleeping right now. This was amongst a Facebook group of some 150 yoga teachers. We’re all experiencing the same disturbed sleep patterns. We’re being called to help, we’re being used to heal. I play the Gregorian Chant everyday on my landing in an effort to calm down the energies in my home. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility that I carry. Life is so far from the world that I would choose right now – a world where kindness, compassion, love, peace and contentment are experienced by all. We need ease. Ease is the opposite to disease, and right now we don’t just have the disease of Covid 19, we have the disease of murder, racism, domestic abuse, neglect, poverty and injustice.

How people are managing right now without yoga is beyond me. Yoga will help to bring the ease so desperately needed. We need a massive army of yogis to combat the negativity, to bring deep healing, to re-establish balance, to restore mental health.

Will there be a greater body of spiritual people when this is all over? Will people take the lessons learned into the future? Will we be able to surmount the ever-growing chaos? Can we move from being audience members to being centre stage? Can we move all people, stir all people, finally make people realise that whatever happens to one of mankind, happens to us all. ‘No man is an island’.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Clean up your act

In every yoga ashram karma yoga or seva is performed. At a prescribed time, each yogi cleans the communal spaces. This is done not for reward or recognition, but it is an act of selfless service. Finding that spirit of serving for the good of all takes you to a place of love. Sadly, there is a large contingent of mankind who fail to understand the idea of keeping communal spaces clean – places like beaches, parks, beauty spots, countryside. Pictures of the beaches in England this weekend utterly sickened me. It makes me ashamed to be a human being. Many people have spent time in lock-down decorating, gardening, de-cluttering.  They’ve had a desire to cleanse and purify their home environment. Why is it impossible to take that desire out into the communal places on our beautiful planet? As a famous t-shirt slogan proclaims, ‘because there is no planet B’.

And who do they expect to clean up after them? Are they still like surly teenagers who expect their mum to clean their rooms? Isn’t it time that they grew up? Where does this sense of entitlement come from? They have no trouble taking the food for their day-trips – please have no trouble taking the litter home again…

Spiritually this crisis has given us an opportunity to re-evaluate what is important. My biggest concern has been that some will return to there version of normal without learning anything at all. We’ve been given the colossal gift of a second chance. A chance to humbly recognise that we share our beautiful home with all people and all creatures. Until we mature, grow and understand that each life is precious, no matter what colour, shape or form it takes, and that we are all here to learn lessons, no progress will be made. Please, please, please, don’t repeat the same endless mistakes, mankind. Please, please, please don’t return to a normal which is selfish, grabbing, irresponsible and downright nasty. We’ve been given the luxury of a second chance – let’s use that to create a beautiful new normal. Let’s respect our home, this planet, let’s take our place as guests not masters, let’s work with selfless service to keep communal spaces clean, let’s act with love and kindness. And if you really need a selfish reason to do the right thing, bear in mind that if we don’t learn we’ll have to go through it all again. It reminds me of school. The whole class would be given a detention because some two or three nincompoops wanted to cause trouble. When will we learn?

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Touching

I’ve learned a great deal about myself during lock-down. As a body-worker of 44 years, I am very aware of my physical well-being. As a yoga teacher of 44 years, I am very aware of my mental state and spiritual well-being. As a mother of 48 years, a grandmother of 23 years and a pet owner all my life, I am very aware of my emotional state. It is the latter that has most suffered during this period. Physical contact and physically expressed affection is a big part of who I am. I’m reminded of a horrible experiment perpetrated on monkeys some time ago. A baby monkey was removed from his mother by a glass screen. He could see her, he could hear her, but he couldn’t touch her. The baby monkey died. I have developed coping strategies, as we all have, but I’m aware of that emptiness within me and the ache that doesn’t go away. Humans need touch.

We talk about a story being ‘touching’. We say, ‘I was very touched by that gesture’. We reach out to touch someone when they’re upset. We instinctively touch clothing or goods that we’re looking to buy. During lock-down, I’ve noticed that I touch the plants in the garden. I touch the trees as I pass them. The more we are discouraged to touch surfaces in the world, the more we are discouraged to touch our faces while out and about, the more I need to touch the flowers and shrubs in my own garden.

Touch has two sides to it. The wholesome, loving touch with which I am familiar, and the touch that can spread infection. For me it has been a sobering lesson. Touch is essential for my well-being, but touch must be avoided to keep mankind well. My personal needs clash with my desire to help others. Mudras have been enormously helpful as I wrestle with this dilemma. The gentle pressure of the index finger against the thumb in chin mudra enables you to use touch to connect with higher good for all.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

P.S If there are any of my current yoga students who would like a weekly class, please do email me.

Talking about death

There has long been a reluctance in the Western world to talk about death. This pandemic has changed that and I do believe this is a positive step. Each day we have an update on the number of people who have died from Corona virus. We must look that squarely in the face. Death is ever present, grieving is ever present, letting go is part of life. That doesn’t make it any less painful when it’s one of your dear ones who passes to Spirit World, but having faith is helpful. Yogis believe that death is promotion. We have completed the lessons that we were here to learn this time. We move back to Spirit World and we reunite with loved ones who have gone ahead of us.

Shakespeare in Richard the second said it’s time to ‘talk of graves, of worms, of epitaphs’. The virus is with us for a long time and there will be more deaths. Can we accept that and handle it gracefully? Can we think more deeply about our own mortality? Can we love folk over to Spirit World? That would be my personal wish – to be loved at that moment of expiring. To be loved across the bridge…

There is an epitaph on a grave in a cemetery in Washington. It’s from 1913 and it says, ‘Writer. Mentor. Wit. Beloved.’ What more could anyone desire? We live on in our loved ones. We live on people’s memories. V.E.day last week proved just how much we can respect, love and value those people who have lived with courage and dedication. A life well lived…a life filled with compassion, kindness, courtesy. Here is a lesson form this crisis and I’m put in mind of a saying from The Shakers: ‘Live everyday as though it is your last, and as if you will live for one hundred years.’ Wise words…

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Suspense

We’re living in unsettled times. Life, for many of us, is suspended. And now we feel all the suspense connected with the release of lockdown. How will they go about it? What will we be allowed to do? Will we feel safe?

This has been a crisis like no other, and feelings of insecurity and uncertainty are natural. We all need to process this in our own way, and in our own time. I’ve planned a yoga class on the abdomen for my weekly students this time. Every time you strengthen the abdomen, you gain emotional stability.

It seems to me that we need inner balance, emotional stability, and great strength of purpose to ensure that we move forward in the right direction. We need to have learned all the necessary lessons. We’re reaping deep global karma, and if we don’t heed the lessons, the cycle will be repeated.

The slower pace of life which most of us have been forced to adopt has given us time for reflection. How can we adjust our old life to better serve the planet? How can we adjust our old life to better serve all creatures, not just man? How can we remember to care for others, to have compassion for all? Will we continue to focus on the vulnerable and the elderly?

We’re getting through this crisis by pulling together. This is yoga – being united. Let’s determine to remember always that we are guests on Mother Earth. We are not the masters. As we’ve dearly missed our own loved ones during this time, let’s remember that it’s people and love that we’ve missed. It isn’t material things, it’s hugs and laughter, and contact. Mother Earth need us to go on loving her; to go on considering her; to give not to take…

She has shown us how. Are we strong and steadfast and able to learn the lessons? If not now, when? She has shown all the patience of a mother, and now we must respectfully hear her voice. We must, finally, grow up.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine

Traditionally, yoga and ayurvedic medicine go hand in hand. Both originate in India. Ayurveda is the science of life and healing, and practitioners believe that health is a state of dynamic equilibrium.Just as ‘Yoga Prescribed’ is a modern take on yogis story-telling to share information, so this blog is a modern take on recognising that ‘food is medicine’. We each need to find the diet which is rich and colourful, and which brings us in to a state of dynamic balance.

Blackberries are free and organic

Do pick blackberries in the autumn! They ripen at exactly the same time as Bramley apples – perfect for crumbles and pies. They give a boost to the immune system ready for the winter months. Those people who picked their blackberries and put them in the freezer are smug right now! They are such a good source of fibre, were used by the Greeks to treat gout and contain Vit C and E. They protect against cancer, degenerative disease and infections…

Ancient Greeks revered beetroot

Beetroot is offered as a tribute to Apollo in the temple at Delphi. It’s a blood-builder and is most helpful fo those recovering from illness.It stimulates the liver and has been valued for centuries as a digestive aid.Certain carcinogens are bound to the red colouring matter, and in Central Europe beetroot has long been used to combat cancer. Apparently, it increases the cellular uptake of oxygen. Put beetroot on your shopping list this week! (And always buy organic when you can.)

Apple cider vinegar

It’s more commonly known as cider vinegar now, and every home should have a bottle! It is literally a ‘cure-all’, a panacea. It prevents ‘flu and stomach illness.It dissolves kidney stones,and regulates ph balance in the body.It helps releive nausea, heartburn or chronic reflux. Cider vinegar helps relieve asthma, allergies and even gout! It lowers glucose levels in diabetes, helps weight loss by curbing the appetite and breaking down fat.It helps with migraines and sinus headaches. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, reduces inflammation and relieves arthritus. Externally, it conditions and untangles hair, clears nail fungus, and clears up fungal and bacterial rashes. Cider vinegar soothes insect bites, gets rid of warts and helps reduce and prevent acne. And the bottle lasts for ages!

Sattvik energy

The manner of eating matters, too! Sattvik energy is pure and is in balance. If we eat calmly, and indeed prepare food lovingly, it enhances our well-being. Eating on the go, being rajasic, is never going to truly nourish us!