Life, yoga and other adventures

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Facebook fury

OK, perhaps 'fury' is a bit strong, but I am a bit put out. You might have heard the discussion on the Today programme on Monday morning between Paul Fox, chair of the British Wheel of Yoga (of which I am a member) and Swami Ambikananda from the Traditional Yoga Association. The subject of the debate was the possible introduction of National Occupational Standards for yoga. This is not the place to go into the rights and wrongs of this; suffice to say it has been the hot topic in yoga forums in this country and beyond.

For many months now I have been in a closed group on Facebook just for  yoga teachers and with the aim of offering mentoring and support. It is supposed to be a nurturing, safe environment in which you can ask, for example, such and such happened in class and I didn't know what to do. Has anyone else experienced this? It is not supposed to be a general discussion forum, but understandably this BWY vs TYA topic has prompted a lot of interest. I put in my two-penn'orth, of course, but was responded to with such venom from some people that I have decided to leave the group completely. No great loss to them, but a huge relief to me.

The point of this story is that it made me realise how easy it would be to let this situation escalate into full-blown cyber-bullying. I'm sufficiently grown-up not to want to have the last word on this occasion, but I can quite see that once you start the ping-pong exchange of insults and abuse, matters could quickly get out of hand.

There is a saying oft quoted in yoga circles that we cannot control what other people do or say, we can only control our response to it. Good advice, no?

Monday, 3 October 2016

Yoga on a Sunday

Last few places remaining on Sunday's yoga session.

I hope you can join us (advance booking only)


Thursday, 29 September 2016

Making space

Last night I taught a Wednesday evening yoga class for the last time. My other classes will carry on, but from next week this one will be in the capable hands of Claire.

I've been with this group for about seven years, which hardly seems possible. We've shared some good times. For instance, there was that memorable night in June when the council folk turned up at the school to set up for polling day and I forcibly evicted them for being noisy. Just because we're tranquil (ahem) doesn't mean you can push us around. Even last night, there was a funny moment when proceedings ground to a halt while a visiting spider was evicted, with considerably more care than the polling people, I might add.

Over the years, we've had news of new babies, weddings and other celebrations; and also some bereavements and other upsets. Through it all, my yogis have been loyal and turned up rain or shine to do some bending and stretching, some mindful breathing and some lying down.

I'm giving up this class to make space for other things, and it will free up quite a bit of time. It's not just the 90 minutes of the class itself, but also the half-hour either side for travelling and on-site admin: plus, of course the behind-scenes planning and follow-up paperwork. Perhaps I'll finally get round to writing that next yoga book. Watch this space.

Namaste.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Putting on the style


Photo: morguefile.com

The second question that potential new students ask me is usually, ‘What sort of yoga do you teach?’ I generally answer that I am BWY trained in the hatha tradition, but that I have absorbed elements from various teachers and experiences over the years. (The first question is, ‘How much is it?’ Rarely does anyone ask me where – or even if – I qualified.)

There seem to be so many different styles of yoga around. Let’s start with hatha, ashtanga, Iyengar, kundalini, Dru: the list goes on and is growing. Add in Scaravelli, Bikram, viniyoga and yin, and those that are purely descriptive, such as dynamic, power, restorative, for pregnancy, and trendy ones like barre, aerial and acro – not to mention hybrids like Yogalates and Body Balance. I’m confused, never mind my students!

So, what style of yoga do I teach? It depends. I always have a lesson plan, but adapt it according to who turns up and how we’re all feeling. Sometimes we work really slowly, sometimes more dynamically. Sometimes we have a very precise class, but sometimes we’re more mellow and we just go with the flow, literally and metaphorically. Sometimes, the age of my students on the night means it’s accidentally an over-50s session. Other times the boiler is playing up and we inadvertently have a session of hot yoga.

I don’t want or need a label on my classes. What you get is ‘Julia’s yoga’, whatever that is.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Just a coincidence - probably

I met a friend today that I hadn't seen for a long time. She has a very particular set of skills relating to counselling, coaching and healing. It was lovely to see her. What made it all the more special was that I had been thinking about her for a couple days. Let's call her Carol.

Another friend (Elizabeth, for the sake of argument) is going through some tough times and I have been trying to find a way to help her, beyond offering a nonjudgemental ear and a hug. It occured to me that Carol could have just the resources that Elizabeth might benefit from. Strange, then, that Carol should walk back in to my life today - literally. I saw her walking towards me in the street.

I'm not a fanciful woman. I'm quite prepared to think that this was just a coincidence. It might even be that I'd seen Carol at the start of the week, but only registered it on a subconscious level. That would explain why I'd been thinking about her. Even so, odd that she should appear just when I needed her.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

How Indian are you?

Don't worry: this isn't going to turn into one of those Facebook quizzes that show you what sort of a car you are, what film character you identify with or how much people love you. It's just that I've become aware of an increasing number of non-native Indians (as I heard Meera Syal call them recently) - that is, people who dress, speak and behave as though were born and raised in Mumbai when actually they come from Manchester.

I mean no disrespect, of course, but I wonder about the sincerity of those pure-bred Brits who build shrines to Hindu deities, sport a bindi and favour a flowing robe. Isn't it just a bit - you know - pretentious?