Category Archives: Israel
I had the most divine opportunity to be hosted on Marilyn Ambach’s radio show, Unwind, Rewind and talk about my favourite loves: Yoga, Music and inner connection.
It was truly amazing to share some of my favourite music, to be in the zone and let the Divine DJ create a flow of eclectic music and inspired thought on yoga and its magic.
So many of you ask me for my playlists, of which I have many. The main one is Aruna Yoga and it grows regularly to reflect my current musical vibes. Here it is if you want to hear more and see how I blend mantra and other genres to create inner connection.
- Thursday 20th April: 9:00-10:30am: Aruna Yoga in Herzliya Pituach
Sharing some spoken truth from Rosh Pina this morning.
May you all find your way to speak your truth, live from your truth and be nakedly honest with the essence of yourSelf!
Blessings and love,
Yesterday was a beautiful day, where I got to speak to Daniel Wagner on the healing power of yoga. We really got to converse deeply on Truth, the questions of ‘Who am I?’ and how we both found our relentless spiritual quest coming to stillness in the finding of our paths, whichever and however they may look!
Daniel’s website simplyconscious.com is a meeting place for those who are, simply conscious 😉
Please visit it, sign up and stay tuned in to a growing community of like minded consciousness. I feel blessed to be a part of it!
Please feel free to leave comments and share your feedback!
On the Seven Year Itch:
On the seventh year, Brahman rested.
I’ve been in this relationship for a while now. It was a true coup de foudre as the French call it. A thunderbolt from the sky! Bamboozled, deeply in love. There wasn’t as aspect of this newfound passion of mine that I didn’t see through rosy coloured dristi. Yoga and me were made for each other. I felt a true coming home.
My appetite was insatiable. Like most grand passions, it was initially expressed though the body. Every imaginable position, contortion, concentrated breath, deepening as the relationship did, resulting in ecstatic states of bliss. Yoga and me fell deeply, madly, truly in love. Yoga means Union. And it wasn’t kidding.
It became my entire world, travelling, studying, practicing, reading, teaching to satiate the call for more knowledge, deeper development, more service, plunging head first into the yogic state of being from body, mind and spirit.
And as with all honeymoons, its transient nature determines an inevitable end. This was, granted a lengthy honeymoon period, a truly sublime stay in the 5 starred luxurious abodes of infinite consciousness. But then the body began to redirect my attention, first with injury, then with pregnancy, dramatic and traumatic birthing procedures and ultimately invasive surgery. Throw a second immigration into the mix and I, and my relationship with hatha yoga (the yoga of the physical postures) hit the skids.
My asana (postures) practice dwindled. Indeed there were periods where I was beyond a working body anyway but a new relationship to asana needed to be sculpted from the shattered preconceptions of my wants and aspirations as a yogini.
So beyond the body was were I started unconsciously conduiting that which essence is yoga. Through emotional work like the Journey, through study of Kabbalah, through less asana focused practices where energetics is the engine of transformation. And let me tell you. It was beautiful. Another passion. A little less tactile and blissful but conceivably a deepening into being into that which is the embodiment of yoga, the union with Self.
Still there was the resistance to get back into bed -in this case my mat – with the asana practice, fully letting myself go with it.
The Kundalini Teachings talk about the Five Stages on the Path to Wisdom. Saram Pad is the honeymoon period which I speak of. Then comes Karam Pad where we begin to work on ourselves. Our awareness grows and we start to apply what we learn to our lives with evident growth.
Then comes Shakti Pad. This is the crucial ‘make or break’ point where we either go to mastery or quit the study altogether. The so-called spiritual crisis! Make it through Shakti Pad and you might have a marriage for all of your lifetimes!
Even Patanjali, all those years ago predicted the seven year yogic itch when he tells us yogis that:
‘perfection in practice comes when one continues to practice with sincerity and respect for a long period of time without any interruption’ (1.14).
Patanjali , like my mother, is pretty clear on commitment! Stick it out, go through the ups and downs. Stay sincere and respectful and it will all work out.
So after my 72,000th Yoga Teacher Training, I decided to see if doing another one with beloved Roxy, a teacher who inspired me wholly, spoke from Truth as Truth and also exuded true mastery of asana, could stimulate my yogic juices, help me get it back up so to speak. Off I went for teacher training number 72,001 in pursuit of sought marital counseling for my asana practice.
The first thing that I received from the weekly meetings was a joyful surrender into this that is yoga and all its accouterments! The time for myself, the breath, the community, the meditative delights. Indeed even the mat! My most delicious reconnection with Patanjali. This therapy was working and more!
Patanjali says that in order to attain perfection in practice you have to
- practice for long periods of time
- without interruption, regularly
- practice with love and respect.
This sounds very much like a concoction for long-term, healthy commitment. Really what Patanjali is prescribing is building new patterns, creating through habitual reconditioning healthy, wholesome highways to clear the body, mind and connect to spirit. Letting these healthy directives become automated patterning. In other words we recondition ourselves. We turn our habitual patterns into subtle impressions of the mind called samkaras. Consolidate these enough and we create vasanas, which are groups of impressions powerful enough to take over our minds and allow us to function from. In other words we are our vasanas! They are deeply embedded and are the fabric of being from which we operate.
The regularity of practice breeds deeper samskaras, breeding deeper vasanas. It’s like a genetic reprogramming through consistent reconditioning that generates new restructured patterns of being.
But more than this Patanjali talks about practicing with love and respect which is the secret yogic ingredient that turns personal transformation from sounding like a computer coding or Pavlovian laboratory into the realm of the infinite expansive consciousness and transcendent states of being that it is. Throw in a pinch of love and respect, and you have more than a healthy marriage. You have amrita: the elixir of immortality for all relationships. Allowing you to overcome and ride the waves and itches of most of our interactions!
This that Patanjali talks about for regulating our commitment is the foundation of Abyhasa (practice). What is an essential for all working relationships to continue to hold the space for its evolving participants is varaighya (non attachment). In 1.12 of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali suggests taking an approach of non-attachment. The combination of committed, constant practice to tame the mind’s impressions and fluctuations is premised on non-attachment. We disentangle from desire and from our cravings and cultivate a strength, equanimity and flexibility to go with the flow of life with its varying gradients.
And then you ease into the Sahej Pad, the fourth stage Kundalini yogis refer to in the five stages on the path to wisdom. Where ease, balance, instantaneous manifestation happen. We align with our destiny and we are in this relationship with Truth for the long haul. It is in this stage on the path to wisdom that we drink of the fountain of youth. This is the result of consistent practice seen not just in the exuberant youthfulness of our physical form but expressed in the balance of being. The eternally youthful yogi, gracefully recognizing the ephemerality of form is the product of Sahej Pad.
The result of True Yoga is Sat Pad: The great Truth and final stage to Wisdom. Even graciously as consciousness, the yogi exits the body epiphanically with choice in mahasamadhi, rather than through the usually choiceless and sometimes, inelegant path of death. Harmony with the universe itself, limitless peace and the quintessence of the true goal of yoga, that of union ensues. This union lifts the veil of disillusion that obfuscates our merging identity as Truth. The realized yogi is the embodiment of the eternality of the unborn, undying, unchanging true Self. The yogi is the expression of pure consciousness.
Yesterday whilst dressing I noticed the ageing in my skin. It was something new, a sagging that hadn’t been there or one that I hadn’t yet noticed. And I felt a great sense of joy evoke within me. Born in that moment of recognition of the inescapable decline and evanescence of my physical form, I noticed that my relationship to all form has shifted. As I watched my children grow in my womb, through birth into toddlers, kids and now, some of them, into teens, attached to this process of change was great excitement and joy. Yet when ageing happens on the other end of the scale, there is despair and a holding on to the perception of the beauty of youth.
On seeing the signs of my ageing, the greying hairs that daily seem to come out in alert of Times winged chariot, the deepening of lines, creases and gravity’s inevitable decline, I decided to invert the whole perception process and immediately resolved to embrace the ageing process with euphoria in the same way I did watching my children grow. I have resolved to regard it as a metaphor reminding me of my own personal evolution and signaling the finite and fleeting facets of form. Like my alarm wakes me up with a resonant bell each morning, my ageing shall be a similar alarm, reminding me to wake up from illusion to the truth that I am not this finite form, but the formless, unchanging Self as pure, pervasive consciousness, footloose and botox free.
Yoga is about moving from the gross to the subtle, through the postures themselves to the energy to pure consciousness. As I practice, not just through posture but through awakening consciousness, my relationship to all aspects of Yoga becomes immortalized. My body is just an incidental vehicle to express the mobility of the mind and to embody the limitless of being. So yes I choose commitment to my mat. But more than that is the ultimate flexibility of self and identification to the subtle sense of Self that ensues. Perhaps this might herald the beckoning of Sat Pad in its least expected form and from the most unlikely angle. As this application of the true union intended in ‘yoga’, yoga is not a well to enable us to drink of the fountain of youth. It is the source of the fountain. It is indeed the elixir of immortality.
Sat Nam, Truth is indeed my identity!
Some months ago, I attended my weekly Kabbalah class where I was taught that the Hebrew word for exile is gola (גולה) and the word for redemption is Geula (גאולה). As many of you know, I have a love affair with the Hebrew language. Its magical, vibrational resonance, its mystifying, unveiling of sacred truth through its symmetry, synchronicity and sound current intoxicate my soul. I am continually awed by the finesse and interconnection between words and their roots and the web of extrapolation that is possible when viewing the letters and their combination as words, birthing enlightened meaning. When I saw the gola/Geula connection and how these two polarities are separated by the singular presence of an Aleph, I knew that I had just imbibed a deep truth. I didn’t yet understand the impact that the letter Aleph would be making into my meditation practice or how strongly Aleph itself would begin to effect shifts in my own consciousness. On a recent reread of my class notes, the very reminder of it and its synchronized timing came to jolt me into a new clarity. How the letter Aleph has the power to transform exile into redemption and how I can marry the technologies that are available to me to effect this transformation felt revelatory.
The transformation is a literal exodus. Just as Egypt is representative of enslavement, so too does our attachment and identification with the material realm imprison us and becomes a self imposed ‘Egypt’. We believe ourselves to be our body, our thoughts, our relationships, our wealth and so on. Yes these are all transient externalized accouterments. Our bodies are changing and will eventually pass, of this we can be certain. Our thoughts itself bear testimony to their ephemeral nature. They are ever passing, changing, shifting, like clouds to which we attach so much weight. It is said that we have around 70 000 thoughts a day and yet we identify with them as concretized. The same can be said for relationships. They too embody in their malleable nature, the necessity to recognize the transient nature of being and to develop a detached appreciation rather than a dependency on the relationships with whom we identify. Wealth is easy. It comes, it goes. Even if you die a multi millionaire, you take with you nothing. Nothing that is but the soul.
Within the soul lies the invitation to do the work. The soul is the one aspect of Self that is eternal in nature, that is flawless, pristine and Divinely connected, irrespective of the shenanigans of the mind, the body or the ego’s misidentifications. It is also the vehicle through which to effect personal transformation and the mode itself by which to carry the process from enslavement to individualized liberation.
How? The connection to the soul begins with recognition of it. An acknowledgement that: I am not man, woman, person, myself. I am Truth itself. This is the soul’s true mantel. It is ever connected to Truth, God, Creation, Light, Love, Source, name it what you will. This support that is Truth, is irrevocable, immovable, universal, eternal and Infinite. Surely our investment in our lifetime should then be to the one thing that is unchanging, to the one thing that we take with us long after the body has fulfilled its relatively short-term function? If our soul is the gateway to ‘Israel’, to the symbolic liberation itself, then it can best be viewed as our point of departure on our conscious casting off of the shackles of our personalized penitentiary.
The ways to make this soul investment are myriad, expressed in universal albeit Babylonic tongue, as the same connection to Truth. Through an inexhaustible list of prayer, intention, observances, breath, meditation, yoga, religion, mysticism and so on, we have tools and technologies to connect to the soul and in so doing effect the shift from Gola to Geula.
To utilize these various modalities and technologies during times of energetic potency, like Pesach, provide a charged environment, which acts as an aid to catalyze the expansion of awareness that is needed to make the shifts our souls are seeking. Passover is the invitation for freedom, just as is its parallel, Easter. Both Easter and Passover share this energy of rebirth.The exodus from Egypt (מצרים), is the exit from a consciousness of narrowness (מצרים/צר) which identifies with the transient into the liberation of the veritable identification with Source itself. This is the resurrection. The time period of Nissan is thus such an electrified moment for this renascence of consciousness.
The umbilicus uniting soul and Source rebirths an expanded realization, one that identifies with Truth itself. Our bija (seed) mantra from Kundalini Yoga is Sat Nam. Nam means identity or the name. Sat means Truth but it also means being as in to be. Our equation for Sat Nam is then: Truth = Being = Identity. Through this new identification we shift from Gola into Geula. Through the eye of the needle that is the Infinite possibility of Aleph!
Wishing you a chag sameach and happy easter: A celebration of rebirth, remembering, revelation and redemption.
These last two classes we have shared on Mondays have focused around the idea of using the technology of yoga in application to our lives. This means different things to each of us, our relative experience a unique expression of our respective states of consciousness and opening that is deeply personal.
My intention in class was to transmit the understanding that everything we do in our yoga practice is a microcosmic laboratory for life itself. An experiment whereby we can apply the teachings in every thought, word and action and to events and experiences we encounter in daily life. What we face on the mat, be it our emotions, our habits, our reactivity or even a sense of centeredness is a reflection of our lives. The sacred space that a yoga practice affords helps us to zone in on a deeper understanding of self in a context where we can work easily through these issues and in a way where we feel safe to do so.
What we can observe through our practice in respect of our emotional states, natures and conditioning can then be directly translated into our lives, processed and seen in parallel. This process is one of the fundamentals gifts of yoga. By developing the ability to become an observer or witness to our conditioned responses and reactivity and in developing neutrality, (observing without judgment) we create the platform to be less reactive. I call this the witness protection programme. This neutrality borne of impartial observation is when we know the application of yoga to life is in effect. Being aware of this shift in response is also an indicator that the yoga is working!
Another main gauge for me which was a strong theme in the last two weeks of class, was the idea of synchronicity. You might notice as a trite new ageism the negation of the idea that anything is coincidental. ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and ‘there are no coincidences’ has become incorporated into the general spiritually tinted lexicon. But the reason clichés are clichéd is that often they are based on truth. For me the word coincidence has become synonymous with the word synchronicity.
In my spiritual process, synchronicity has a profound presence, and the series of seeming coincidences seem to grow more apparent, almost laughable in the gigantic footprints they leave. I was asked recently if there is always such profound coincidence in my life, with Baron Von Munchausenesque tales of miracle and wonder lending an almost unreal quality to my life. I said absolutely yes! I believe this is based on a perception shift that is birthed through application of spiritual teachings. When perceived from the point of view of love and truth, life is miraculous, wondrous and tinged with the rosiest of spectacles. Do I look for the signs I was asked? I believe they are always there. Our shift in perceptions determines whether or not we see them.
In June 2013 following a series of stark breadcrumbs, I wrote the following piece that I promised in class I would share with you. My prayer is that it speaks to the awakening process within you, reminding you of your growing awareness and of the telltale signs that life is evolving in understanding and shifting into awakening.
of the breadcrumbs left
by the soul’s emissary,
offering ectoplasmic clues
like a dream,
of why and how
we are here.
This road seems like
a mellifluous meander
with utter distraction,
until the reminders
bring us gently to the point.
Lest we miss it.
It is our choice to pursue spiritual growth and to commit to the discipline of a regular yoga practice. This choice is amplified by being in the presence of like-minded people and developing in a collective spirit of sanghat. The commitment to our yoga sadhana (practice) in whichever form we pursue are tangible efforts we make in the awakening process, ones which empower us, grow us and facilitate elevation of body, mind and spirit. While we take these efforts of discipline and commitment, Grace stands alongside us, watching, facilitating and encouraging us. Throwing us one breadcrumb after the other. Lest we miss it.
|An update on Nicki’s yogic adventures in Israel|
Dearest Yoga Form sangha,Three months have passed since our arrival in Israel. In such a short time it seems that so much has happened, so many shifts are continually taking place. After a few short weeks being a stone’s throw from the biggest yoga school in Tel Aviv, we moved to a suburb about half an hour away. It is beautiful here, very green, very close to the ocean. Our mornings involve dropping our children at school and taking Aidan and Guru (our Shitzu) for walks on a seemingly endless strip of beach. But besides the perfect nature here I found myself looking in vain for a yoga school that embodied all that Yoga Form does. It seemed like there was very little in the area and as I have Aidan with me, travelling to far away classes is not really viable.
I can now marvel at how interestingly Universe forces me out of my comfort zones. After much research the only two practices I found in close proximity so far are hot yoga (Bikram) and Iyengar, the two practices I’m least attracted to. As luck or Divine plan has it I have found through these practices all that I know to be true of yoga; that there isn’t a yoga that I have met that I didn’t like; that there is beauty in all, possibility in all, silence to be found within, no matter what the pathway. When I cannot make it to class which is regularly, my daily practice involves finding a strip of grass off the beach, laying out one towel for me, one for Aidan and Guru and doing my spiritual work which is the sublime practice of Kundalini yoga. There is such a wealth of information, teachings and sets to do, that the beach becomes my shala, the ocean’s envelopment a virtual baptism sanctifying my practice and the connection to the Infinite made easy through Nature’s embrace.
My return to Antwerp in the beginning of September for the level 1 Kundalini Yoga teacher training with Gurmukh, Gurushabd and Guru Dharam inspired my practice even more. To be able to reimmerse in the teachings, to feel the blessing of community (sangha) and to touch base with all that I know to be sacred and true of yoga was such a blessing. And then to bring it all back here and to know that my dharma is that of service however it may ultimately present itself. Such is the fruit of a spiritual practice, to connect to Purpose and to live that Purpose. The last year has brought so many changes, it is almost laughable how Universe has conspired to shake all that I believe to be my identification, to shift all that I thought to be solid about my life. First the unexpected gift of Life, then the change of location. She teaches me continually to let go of attachment, to let go of identification, to let go and let God. She teaches me to trust and to surrender. Every day it seems. In exchange for my trust, she brings so much joy to my life. So many blessings in the form of Union with my loved ones, the truest yoga I am blessed enough to enjoy. So many blessings in the ability to find my connection to my Soul through the Infinite teachings and knowledge. This is my karmic gift to enjoy and in gratitude for it I hope to live my dharma, in service, in love, with trust and in Truth.
My blessings to you all dear sangha. I carry you all in my practice, hot, aligned or sandy.
Nicki is the Founding Yogic Goddess of Yoga Form.
This interview was done on May 11th 2011.
Where are you from?
I am from Johannesburg, from South Africa, where I was born and brought up. I later moved to Cape Town when I was
practicing law where I continued my studies. I met Dax, my husband in Cape Town and enjoyed an amazing time of living in a magical place before moving to Antwerp.
When did you start practicing yoga?
I started practicing after Tia was born almost ten years ago. I always knew yoga was something for me, without ever having practiced it. The first lesson was literally life changing! I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a teacher, but I didn’t know what that would ultimately mean and how that was going to change my career path at that stage. I was an academic working then as a lecturer at the University of Antwerp and studying simultaneously for my Doctorate in law and linguistics. A far cry from yoga! Initially I studied with Diana Claes who was an amazing Satyananda teacher who taught from her home. She would sit at the foot of her bed and there was just enough space for two mats. We developed a close relationship and she inspired me deeply. She had lived in India in the 1960’s with Swami Satyananda, whom I was later able to meet in India in 2007. Actually all my initial teachers were Satyananda teachers. I later met Kaushal, who is also Satyananda trained having been brought up in that part of India; as well as my teacher in South Africa, Swami Kamalavidya who is also from that tradition. Later I tried more dynamic forms of yoga, which I absolutely loved too.
So you decided to become a teacher really quickly?
Basically yes, but it did take me a while because I had very small kids. The first teacher training was with David Swenson in Holland as there was very little offered in Belgium in those days and what was available wasn’t possible for me with my young family. Everything required going away and I couldn’t leave for a month as most teacher trainings required. I first chose an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga teacher training and after that did my first 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training in Holland focusing on Vinyasa and Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. That experience inspired me to travel to learn with many masters of yoga and I continued going for various trainings in Germany, Holland, France, England, South Africa and India. I had this amazing thirst and hunger for whatever I could get but I had to do it in a way that allowed me to be present with my family.
How Yoga Form came into existence …
The teaching part started with friends who were my guinea pigs. We would practice on my living room floor and then more and more people started asking for classes so I rented a space from the Oost West Centrum, in an old hall with a lot of character and started a regular class on Wednesday mornings. I then found the space in the Kruishofstraat and Kaushal started teaching too. Then Wesley came on board and it became like a mini yoga centre, which grew through word of mouth, This all happened in a rented apartment which was very cosy, but due to a very crotchety neighbour, I was forced to look for something else. I was very lucky to then find our beautiful space in Pierebeekstraat the night before leaving for my first trip to Rishikesh and from then Yoga Form grew exponentially into the current space and centre it now is.
The birth of Yoga Form was inspired by my exposure to the various forms and practices, which really became the impetus for offering different practices under one school. What I came to realize is that our bodies needs are shifting and changing at all times which means that the kind of practice we need is also always changing. You do not always want a dynamic practice nor do you always want a soft practice, nor an energetic practice. You want to be able to feel what your body needs at a particular moment and truly listen to it. I wanted to be able to offer that under one umbrella through Yoga Form, so it is really about representing the different forms and paying homage to the different teachings and respecting all as coming from the same source. I hope through Yoga Form to open up the doors for people who want to be able to choose the practices according to how they are feeling within themselves.
About Kundalini Yoga & Meditation …
I went without any expectation to Rishikesh, India in February 2009 to experience the International Yoga Festival,
which I had been yearning to do for years. My first class was a 4:00 am sadhana with Gurushabd who suggested following Gurmukh’s programme. He spoke so passionately that it really sparked my interest. A few hours later I went to Gurmukh’s class and that was pretty much it! She rocked my universe on all levels, it was so profound. I followed every Kundalini class that week and found her so open, warm and accessible. I completely connected with both of them. They mentioned they were doing a Kundalini Yoga teacher training there in November 2009. I cannot explain other than it was a magnetic thing that I knew I had to do the teacher training, but it seemed an impossibility at that stage to leave my family and go off to India for four weeks.
Somehow the universe conspired in its magical way to manifest the chance to be there. My family came with me for the beginning of the training and then I stayed for the balance. I had an incredible month in Rishikesh where I fell in love not just with India but with this technology and practice that had shifted so much for me personally. I got back from the teacher training on Sunday and on Monday I started teaching Kundalini Yoga in Antwerp.
Kundalini Yoga has such a power of its own. I have been exposed to different styles of yoga and found all of them phenomenal and I still continue to practice, seek and to learn and to have a taste for the varying dialects that yoga inspires. Yet Kundalini yoga and meditation is for me the most transformative, in the quickest and most direct route. It was profound how strong and how dynamically it shifted me out of habitual patterns of thinking and out of deeply engrained emotional conditioning. That I felt so strongly for myself but when I saw in the students how transformational it was, it inspired me to teach more and more. Being the only place to teach Kundalini Yoga in Antwerp also inspired me to invite Gurmukh and Gurushabd to come and teach a teacher training here in order to grow our community and to share and spread these transformational teachings.
What drove you to yoga?
As long as I can remember I have always had a yearning for spiritual things. Even without the practice of yoga I always had that very spiritual consciousness through my parents. When I was younger I was seeking on different levels but hadn’t yet found my path. I grew up in a very spiritually aware home and was always searching. I looked into religion but that didn’t provide the answers for me. Yoga was the first and only way where I felt that I proactively took myself to the space of being, to the space of connection. It started with the body, that awareness grew and continues to grow all the time in its meandering way through the emotions and into the spiritual realm. Yoga was the first time where I felt a tangible accessibility for spirituality. That was why it was so life transforming for me. It took me from seeking into actively living the spiritual path. Yoga inspired the sense of universality, interconnection, the continuity of life and the eternal nature of being. Whenever I had emotional challenges, from the smallest seemingly trivial thing to something serious, I would turn to the spiritual teachings. Where it really tied in for me was with Sat Nam -Truth is my Identity-which allowed me to relinquish my identification with my earthly roles and to recognize that Truth is really who I am.
How was the decision made to move to Israel with your family?
It was with our hearts and not with our heads. There is no rationality in it, we both have businesses here and a very stable, happy, thriving life, but it was just the desire to have an adventure and to allow a pocket of time to stop and enjoy our growing family. It is definitely inspired by Aidan’s birth, as I want to be as present as I possibly can for him and my other two children and it feels like the perfect time to take a sabbatical. Israel also has a special magic for me, a very strong spiritual energy that has always tantalized me.
How do you think yoga can contribute to society?
On the simplest level it de-stresses people, and when you’re less stressed you’re able to be better at your job, you’re able to be better in your role within your family if you have one, in your social context. It provides a way of stimulating physical health, removing energetical blockages and diminishing stress and emotional constriction and challenge. It makes people feel better about themselves, when they are healthier in mind and body, they can be more proactive participants and contributors to a healthy society.
On another level it is about consciousness, so what yoga does is although it starts on that level of giving you a greater sense of bien-être, feeling physically and emotionally better, it then leads to a new consciousness, that consciousness can be personal, about your position and place within a bigger macrocosm or it can be more global about the environment or ultimately lead to a more spiritual consciousness.
Yoga can give you tremendous direction, if you are lucky enough open enough or aware enough it may bring you to your life’s purpose and that is profound. When you know what your life’s purpose is and what and how you can contribute. That is an amazing insight that many practitioners can get. It is life changing stuff.
What would you like to contribute during your life?
I think on a very personal level my contribution comes from sharing what I have been lucky enough to learn; so to teach and share those teachings. Part of that is why I am bringing teachers here, given the way I had to run all over for teachings, is to share the teachings within our community. I also hope to make a contribution through YogAspire, through uplifting and through service. It boils down to the very essence of something Gurmukh said on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh. I was looking out at the Himalayas, feeling the breeze from Mata Ganga blowing, just being euphoric from this incredible practice. She closed the session with something that really touched me and it became my new motto:
“You have two hands: serve. You have a heart: love.”
That’s it, nothing really else, just to serve and to love. Everything else fits into those paradigms.
Dearest Yoga Form sangha,
My first weeks in Israel have offered a cushioned landing: Arriving for a family celebration, in gorgeous weather, with my entire family around me has softened the edges off a transitional shift and allowed for us all to slowly acclimatize, taking in our new environment with joy, in peace and with so much love around us.
I happen to be temporarily staying a few metres walk from probably the largest yoga school here. At the first opportunity I found my way there to begin my yoga practice here trying out the different classes on offer. All the lessons are in Hebrew with very little translation and given my very limited recollection of childhood Hebrew classes very little of what was being said made its way to any comprehensible understanding.
What did strike me though despite my limited Hebrew was the fact that the word for ‘breath’ is the same root as the word for ‘soul’, and that connecting to the breath comes down simply to connecting to our spirit. So too the word for ‘becoming aware’ is the same as ‘go into your heart’, where the truth of awareness makes itself known. These simple truths expressed within the texture of the language itself, felt resonantly like home, not within the place I now choose to be in, but rather within the practice that echoes my inner truth.
Indeed I missed most of the dialogue of the classes in another language in which I am still so inept, but coming to the yoga practice brought me to such familiarity beyond the constraints of tongue. The gentle caress of my breath whispered of the universality of the language of yoga, that breath is beyond word and that word is distilled to a simple OM. In this way yoga is true union. Union of the body with the soul, union of the breath with the consciousness, unity with all spirit kind, beyond any boundary of language, conditioning or environment. Here I conjoined with the universality of the language of yoga that speaks beyond these borders and touches all without discrimination. For this I am so deeply grateful for my practice that allows the undulations and shifts of deep change to gently mould into a new awareness of the present moment. Yoga is coming home, no matter the language, no matter the place. It is me, my body, my breath, my spirit in this singular moment of now and in connection with all that is and as the sounds of the waves outside the shala draw my attention deeper within, I realize with all certainty that I Am That.
I send you my deepest love always from here, missing you all but looking forward to reuniting soon in joy and in peace in Antwerp.