"I don't want to do a show that makes you feel like you've just had sunday lunch. I want you to feel repulsed or exhilarated." - Alexander Mcqueen.
There's a coyote in the air... The past week has been adrenaline fuelled, its been fast paced, its been a success, its been knackering, its been an act of survival. It's seen loss and gain in equal measure. It's been a succession of past and present in unity. It's been awakening, uplifting, exhausting and sabotaging.
It's been life, death and rebirth in action. Thankyou Solstice, Thank you Full Moon, Thankyou for the reminder of the unexpected and the impermanence of all, forcing us to become flexible, to not cling and to let go. blah blah blah. yes! But its true!
It's life. and it's yoga in action.
So here on this blog, I share that with you, the pace of the track above symbolises this for me. the naughtiness that life sometimes feels like it provides. that coyote challenge, testing us from every angle, the angel and the devil on each shoulder, the essences of life that highjack all that you thought you knew, that you'd planned! I've moved to the music above, a lot over the past few weeks, as i do yoga, as I type on my screen, as i drive, its been played, over and over and its translated the pace of life we are living in - in the here and now. Are you? Have you?
Some thoughts... they'll be no revolution.
From this place of experience in life so far, is where i share from on here. No matter what 'style' of yoga you tell yourself that you practice. no matter what you 'expect' to read here. It's like the label we give 'fashion', what does that even mean? How does it look? Why? I used the quote from fashion designer Alexander McQueen above, because he was real. He was an icon that was challenged and challenged directly everything that he did, and in his short life, he did just what he intended. But, in his case, it all became too much. So we can take from this, and we can observe our yoga in action and our life practice, as it shifts and challenges us and see how we partake in the whole charade.
Well, you cant label it, yourself, anything. You know why? WHY...
Because no-one discovers YOU but YOUrself.
No-one can make you experience something in the way that YOU do. Nothing is the same as something else. Your yoga comes from you! Your teacher offers a practice directly from their experience of life and that can never be translated, articulated or repeated. It just is!
So what ya gonna do when life fails you, your teacher doesn't meet your expectation, life does not reach your expectation, you do not reach your expectation????????/??
Learn to inhabit the pause between desire and sattisfaction.
Form a clear intention.
I mean it. Try it! I repeat. Form a clear intention! "Here she goes again. This f'ing intention thing" i hear you say. Yes. I am saying it - again. Because you know why? Because in this life so far, its served me. Its served me because when the pace of life gets so f'ing busy, we loose it. We say hey, whats this all about anyway. When someone dies, we say f'k it! Whats life all about?! Why am I here?!
And you know what I think (today), as we all know what we 'think' constantly changes, or at least it bloody should. Well... setting an intention serves us more than we can imagine. Ask yourself - why the hell do you wake up, why do you carry on, why do you practice yoga!!!!!????????? Is it still the same as the reason you came out of the womb, no?! Is it the same as when you were a child?! no?! Is it the same reason as yesterday?! Probably/ Probably not!
So ask yourself - what is your intention in life? To live? To move? To breathe? To ignite the fire in you to let your gifts and talents shine?!
Balance between discipline and perfection and harsh standards of self and others, is a tricky one. As it should be. We got standards, we got ambition, we got fire, damn it.
But there is a caution: Any practice can be used as a shield to protect us from life.
Discipline can be just as effective as a sloth, in helping us escape from reality: we can schedule, control, and otherwise fill up our day with so many plans that there is not even the smallest crack for an outside influence to seep in.
You've all heard that saying that the light shines in through the cracks. But, are you patching those up and kidding the world, at least of all kidding your self, that your intention is clear and all is continually well???????/??/ Or are you letting those cracks, the raw parts of our being, stay like scars that show the life we've led? The most common, is the tortured soul, the privileged that are feeling the most scared. Why is that? I am not going to offer my thoughts on this, but my observations of this are clear.
We all have a story...
There was a time in my life that I practiced yoga morning and night and nothing would change that. Even if I had gone out for the evening, I would ensure that I came home and still practiced. I would get annoyed if I stayed at my boyfriends and I didn’t get that time, so I’d find a way to make that time and stay disciplined. My intention to practice back then was to maintain control quite simply, I see that now. I was so tiny that I’d stopped having periods, I had a high pressured environment at a top university, studying very hard and took solace in dancing (as i still do), but i wasn't a typical go and and party student, i was a practicing Yogi and very disciplined Fashion & Photography Student. It was my favourite time in my connection with yoga as I reflect back, it was my most strongest, flexible and peaceful time with my practice in many ways, but I also realise it was easy to be that way, because I also had a lifestyle that was fairly solo. I kept my head down, creating epic artworks, photo shoots, I was striving to perfection in my degree and I put socialising to one side. I was focused on creating a career in fashion and pushing myself hard, as well as maintaining a strong Yoga practice!
It got to a tipping point where I pushed myself so hard on the one side of working, that I overnight, entirely stopped practicing yoga! My body cracked! It took a beating, my mind sunk in to depression and the self doubt rose higher and higher, so to try get back on track, I spent a significant amount of time working even harder! It’s mad looking back! And how did this all change?!
Well I worked til the bitter end, i met all the challenges I'd set myself and then I stopped. I completely stopped the lifestyle I was leading. I handed in what I thought to be a ton of crap, I retreated back to Somerset and I stopped.
I had an automatic draw to practice yoga again, it was immediate, I fed myself in more ways than one and with the help of a slower pace of life, the normality of family and simplicity, I regained my daily practice and I felt better than ever. I felt better because I cracked. Its stage to say, but reaching my limits made me understand i had some! It turned out not to be a ton of crap, and after being head hunted and receiving a 'First Class' BA Honours i built my strength back up and I re-entered the industry with the self awareness and determination that it required to survive. Life is an act of survival and you are kidding yourself if you think otherwise - or are you?!
So why I tell you all this is because we need to take time to observe the impact that our lifestyles have on our bodies and state of mind. Ask ourselves what our intentions are to practice yoga? Why and if we are not? Or possibly...
If we are living in such a controlled way through any spiritual practice or life style, that we are inhibiting life, using our spiritual discipline to to cordon ourselves off from the greater challenges of securing our spiritual practice in the ground of everyday life?
This is a constant art of awareness for me. As life changes without any choice in that! From the days of being a student, to living as a professional in shared housing, to having children, a partner, an ex partner, juggling single parenthood and continuing to work, maintain relationships of all kinds, my practice, my commitment to it and especially the way it looks daily changes!!!! It has to.
If I tried to be so rigid with it, I’d feel like a failure every day, because I’ve come to accept that way of life is not possible for me. I leant that being a yogi or maintaining any spiritual practice is also about letting life, letting their be an ebb and flow and not needing for it to therefore look or be engaged with in a particular way. The discipline comes in staying connection to it, but that connection comes in all shapes and forms.
It is possible to have a daily practice.
It is possible to stay connected and to action something. I find simply being a good person, reading a page of a text before bed or offering life back to myself everyday through nourishment of even getting an early night, is sometimes as much yoga as I can do. Not adhering to the pressure life points upon me and also crumbling at life feet at times, lets me feel human! It lets me come alive, again and again. I don't want to live 9-5, I value 9-5 and I also 100% love that my life isn't hard, but it also ain't easy and can be bloody difficult to manage. Partly, because i create it that way. I strive to do what I love, to live in a way that I believe to be good for me and my children and to work at it.
And, we are the creators of our god damn lives!!!! There ain't no one else gonna do it for ya, so do it how you wanna do it.
I watch fellow yoga teachers, most without children, bouncing around town able to indulge in their practice and I envy it, yet I also know that isn’t me. I am gifted with this life and therefore the offering I give is reflective of that. That is my teaching that translates through. I think?!
I’d love to know more from my students what they get from my teaching—//// notes on a postcard if you are one of them reading this, mail me what you get from my translation of yoga?!
I attended the class of a fellow teacher in the days past and her offering had significantly changed since a while ago attending her class and I thought, yes! As it should. She’s changed. For one reason or another she’s journeyed in life and that is reflective of what comes out to her offering, I felt blessed. I am not stating that we have had to have experienced great suffering, but for goodness sake - live!!!!!
To have lived is the greatest gift!
Students from my morning class the other day showed gratitude for 'the specific and detailed explanation of postures' that I offered and 'the time to fully experience them with the breath', alongside 'the desire for me to sing more' at the end, is what was shared willingly.
"Really?!" I said.
I didn’t know that was my offering during that class, but that is what was received and I felt incredibly honoured that those particular students felt so open to share that and the gratitude they expressed.
I love the quote... “achieving a dynamic balance between aspiration and actuality can be our gauge for knowing whether or not our discipline is setting us free.”
So my having set your intention, you give back something, without realising, that benefits you but all those around you. you don't have to be a yoga teacher to give back - you do it everyday by being you!
I began writing this blog very weirdly on Saturday morning, in a 'pause' and a moment of reflection after a well needed deep and late arousal from sleep. Since then in succession i've risen up and united with difficult relationships, watched my daughter take her first 'solo' part in choir, studied, worked, faced the news of a family death, chanted, grieved and watched the Alexander McQueen Documentary that quite literally symbolised the above blog in a nutshell, by teaching us what happens when you don't hold that dynamic balance. To unexpectantly helping a 90 year old neighbour up from his lounge floor having fallen and in pain, and watch him in complete compassion, determined to do it himself!
Choose freedom, choose Life, set your intention to live well and be free.
In class this week, get ready to set clearer intentions and find the freedom and discipline to live.