Politics and how the Spiral Shifts

Fascinating to see an article in the Guardian quoting the Russian president telling Syrian leader Basha Al-Assad, to reform, or leave office.  As a long time supporter and known ally of Syria’s leader, this will be strong medicine and possibly the straw to break the camel’s back  — when a person under strain feels the loss of a great support, it’s often the last pin in an unraveling mindset that then allows complete freedom to change.

I reflect on the power that Nelson Mandela brought to his role as president in South Africa from his own personal and successful journey through change.  It seems Mandela’s embrace of Tier 2 change – from one paradigm to another, created a huge energetic influence on other great thinkers and dogmatic politicians in South Africa – nothing short of miraculous in a country on the verge of civil war.


Perhaps its possible that Al-Assad changes, is able to leap off the bridge and ask his country-men what it is they want, and work together towards a new, different future.  Of course if that sounds a little fairy-tale ending-like, then remember the Arabic world appears to have been  stuck in their dogmatic and dictatorial forms of government forever (or at least for a century!).

Any change is a good thing. And a change of mindset in a powerful politician who already knows the country and has access to power and key figures, could be the change we all want.

Here’s hoping the Syrian leader can see the option as a very real and possible step for him to take personally, and then invite the country along too!

What’s a pencil got to do with an ultra-new TV screen?

A team of scientists in Manchester  who won a nobel prize for physics last year, are being sponsored to the tune of £50 million to develop their idea for commercial exploitation.  Is it an alternative energy source?  Is it a new genetically altered food? Is it a view of the universe previously unseen? Sorry, I’m mixing up my modalities here as that’s chemistry, biology, and astrophysics so far, they won for physics… but no, its none of these anyway!!

The team under Andre Geim, and Konstantin Novoselov (from the names, not from around Manchester, are they?  Lucky they decided to do their research locally though!)  have discovered ways of working with graphite (you know, cheap old pencil lead?) in VERY thin sheets – as in, peel a layer off with some sticky tape – which is literally where they started.  This developed into a concept of atom thin sheets of graphite – which, it turns out after centuries of academic thinkers using graphite to record their thoughts, is a sustainable and cheap material which can be used to manufacture electrical and computerized goods and even make plastic cheaper and stronger.

“Wafer thin” (or substantially thinner, at just an atom thick if they can get that right) graphite is many things – its very strong, very flexible, can conduct electricity a million times better than copper.  As it can stretch more than other conductors its useful to replace rare, firm and expensive minerals.  It also has a fascinating property of being more transparent to visible light than any other known conductor.

It’s already been used to create a flexible touchscreen, and Samsung are experimenting with television screen sized sheets, could be used to create transparent cabin wall membranes in aircraft allowing passengers to see out – potential uses are infinite!

Its one of the great discoveries of this century so far – and the truly brilliant thing is that the hard-pressed British coalition government, with all their economic woes, have been able to see the potential (not least of which is high-tech industry and well-paying jobs!!) and put real money behind the development of the idea.

It’s a wonderful paragraph in the ongoing saga of the humble pencil — used to write underwater, in zero gravity, and in the dark… as any Eureka moment scientist will confirm!!

Being rather than always Doing

I always love this segment from Richard Bach’s novel, Illusions – Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

11. The Master answered and said,“Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

12. “The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

13. “Each creature in its own manner clung tighty to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

14. “But one creature said at last, ‘I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.’

15. “The other creatures laughed and said, ‘Fool! Let go, and that
current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!’

16. “But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

17. “Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the
current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

18. “And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger,
cried, ‘See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies!
See the Messiah, come to save us all!’

19. “And the one carried in the current said, ‘I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.’

20. “But they cried the more, ‘Saviour!’ all the while clinging
to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and
they were left alone making legends of a Saviour.”

I cling myself – to outdated ideas of how I am supposed to be behaving, other people’s ideas and sadly, quite often its only my perception of their ideas – and I hear this from others too. We often hear things from parents, teachers and friends during those crucial formative years which live with us for decades, about what is expected of us – “Be Good”; “Eat all the food on your Plate”, “You’ll never be good at xxx so give up” or “You must do YYYY or achieve ZZZ to (pick one- ) fit in, be successful, make money, be happy or 100 other “measures of success”.

So I carry all these ridiculous concepts around in my subconscious, making me vaguely aware of discomfort when I act out of synchronicity with them, when I chose actions that are more in tune with who I am.

As I do more yoga, perhaps with the meditation or the body awareness that has definately increased, I become aware of these subconscious “pains” or “twinges” in my psychi which manifest as physical.

So here I am thinking of changing my job and I get a pain in my throat – or a chesty cough or any of 100 symptoms, which my digital homeopath friend will analyse for me and explain are “Fear”; “dread”, “anger” etc. – you get the picture.

Slowly it becomes harder to make a mental step just in response to a prompt from all this old rusted thinking that forms a very unstable, ill-designed, and really unwanted framework from which to make choices. I have to look carefully at each choice, even sometimes to the words I am choosing to descibe something or some choice – whether out loud (in which case friends are good – to say “did you hear yourself?!?”) or in my mind.

I want to be the little creature floating on the Crystal Current.

Part of me thinks I have taken that first step — and let go to see where the river will take me. But part of me feels like I am still clinging (perhaps the discomfort I feel is that part of me IS floating off downstream in splendid freedom, and part of me is still painfully attached to old ways of thinking, causing a tremendous tension!!!!!!!!!

Its an ongoing piece of work, and the most useful tool I have found in the process of scraping my old thinking off the rocks of my attachments (I love this metaphor, sorry – :-)) is awareness. As I become more aware of my thought processes, and even the origon of some of my thoughts, so it becomes less possible for stray, useless or negative thoughts to get into my mind, and prevent me from moving into Being.

The connectedness of Being

In defining what I am looking for in my next relationship with a man, I’ve been examining how it feels to lose a committed, long term partner, through my own and friend’s experience.
I got divorced after 10 years of marriage, so have experienced one half of it – the loss of a physical and emotional connection,  and support at a practical level, from someone who was always a good friend to me. 
Before my marriage,I lost a lover in the midst of our intense relationship- a mad passion of my youth,  I was only 20 and completely in love with life – as much as with Bruce, so when he passed away, I missed his physical presence as a foil for all the emotional feedback he had been giving me.
But my experience of loss is miniscule compared to that of a dear friend who recently lost her partner of 30 or more years.

She wrote “I am in that state of “in-between ness” where I feel I am moving forward and need to change my life but am not quite sure where that new life is or what it will be.    I have to move on as living in the past with memories of B  will not give me a full and rounded life.   I miss him so much that life feels pretty empty without his calls, texts, IMs and e-mails.”

“We spent so much time talking, putting the world to rights and generally communicating that it is very hard not having that contact. My grief is intense but I am learning to live with it and I certainly do not cry as much or for as long. So, I am coping well and feel that I have made great strides in the last year.”

Whenever I read these words I feel her pain and loss at losing someone who had become a very fundamental part of her consciousness – a truly special Gift life sometimes bestows on couples.
There is a wonderful communication one can have with a special Other which is very familiar to me – and I know about the loneliness which ensues when you lose it, because of a close relationship I formed with a monk.  We spent hours on the phone and emailing everyday, and his opinion and thoughts became another part of my own mental processes – i knew how he would react, or would laugh ay something, and in many situations we had so deeply explored each other’s psyche that I was able to present his ideas to others as if they were my own – which in some ways they had become.
That relationship stopped because of the reality of our situation – him a monk and me not – and I haven’t in the ensueing years stopped missing it.  Not necessarily him, I have to admit, as he turned out a bit of a bad egg in some ways, but that deep one-human-soul-to-another communication I felt we had.  Having a mirror for my thoughts and feelings was a wonderful gift – real or not, I certainly grew and explored aspects of myself that I would love to continue investigating.
As a result of this relationship, I have come to define all romantic relationships on a scale based on how deeply the communication reaches into each other’s Soul.
To be a really valuable relationship, (hmm – there’s another discussion – what’s valuable about a relationship…) both parties need to be completely present and non-reactive when the other explores ideas and thoughts, strong enough in their own Self to not wish to create something different from the wonderfully complex and evolving Being in front of them.
To delight in each other’s differences, so when later things might end (Dad always reminds me – any relationship always has one of two endings – they leave, or you leave, and it might be voluntary or you might die!) I want to feel, even if the ending is quite devastating, that ” we spent so much time talking, putting the world to rights and generally communicating that it is very hard not having that contact. “

Working towards a more sustainable life

From a lovely booklet produced by a group in Moray, Scotland – “Traditional economics, regardless of politics, identifies two types of resource in society: Capital and Labour. In contrast sustainable development encompasses three resources: economic capital (roads, rail, mines, factories), social or human capital (labour, skills, community spirit, local knowledge. culture), and environmental capital (landscapes, habitats, plants, animals). Economic growth has traditionally been made at the expense of social and/or environmental resources. Therefore we need a different kind of development which tackles poverty but does not damage the environment. This is sustainable development.”


I’ve been downsizing my life since 2003, when I moved to India – that was the easiest transition, as living in the ashram is simple living at its most focussed.  We did have electricity, and we did have cars/people carriers, but everything was used to the minimum – lights out early and get up with the sun, no hot water (in tropical Kerala, who needed it!) and staying in the ashram where there was plenty to do and people to talk to, rather than rushing around in a car to go to work.

Coming back to Europe it hasn’t been quite as obvious how to make the most use of local resources.  I’ve moved close to work but still use a car, although I can walk to work and have done.  A Bicycle is next, and my business partner uses one to travel to work all the time.  Giving up air travel is not yet an option for me, although I don’t travel much, but with all my lovely family in South Africa its going to be a long term cost I’ll have to cover.

I’ve been vegetarian for years and that completely makes sense to me, luckily for me giving up meat was never a problem.  I eat healthily, and mostly at home although Starbucks does tempt me to have a completely unecessary and overpriced drink in great surroundings – I’m working on that one with really top quality coffee and soymilk frother at home, but the company is not as diverse!

I live in a shared house, its not very big, we keep the heating down (its summer now but been a slow warmup this year!) and hang clothes out to dry, open windows for fresh air and everyone showers rather than bath.  We wash each other’s dishes in the sink when there’s a small stack so I’ve never seen the built-in dishwasher in use.

Our garden is a temperate jungle full of spiny and obnoxious weed due to a lack of vision by our landlady, so there’s not much option of growing vegetables although I am tempted to put down wooden pallets on top of the mad grass out there, and pots on top, and grow some herbs and leafy greens for the table!

Due to the nature of my job, I am very healthy, teaching yoga everyday has changed my body so its more resilient and bugs don’t often get to me.  I don’t take a lot of medicines – a couple of vitamin supplements and the occasional painkiller.  I haven’t taken an antibiotic knowingly for some years now.  I try to walk an hour or more a day, which is easy where I live, a large park on one side of the road, and country lanes stretching across Surrey at the end of my street.

If I travel to London to see friends, I only take my car if there’s a lot of different visits involved and I’m staying overnight or carrying a lot of stuff, otherwise the train is fairly close and I’m happy to take it. My big issue with trains is I need to drive to the station as there is no easy way to get to it unless I pay the price of the train ticket to take a taxi – and again to get home!!!  More public transport options or the possibility of storing a bicycle safely at the station would be good!

I’ve given up buying things mostly.  This year I’ve been tempted (and gave in!!) by a new camera but I’m in the process of selling the two I had before, and hopefully I’ll be taking some commercial shots so can justify the purchase as part of business expansion!! I almost exclusively shop for clothes in charity shops, and am quite well known locally as we have some great charities here, and well-stocked by the generous local ladies!  I would say my wardrobe is a very eclectic mix of good quality dresses and tops, and loads of bright t-shirts and jeans, and possibly a few too many coats but I find the weather in England on average colder than I would like – too used to the tropics!

I do have to buy shoes new, as I have quite large feet and can’t often get my size, but I’ve narrowed that down a lot too – two of each kind of shoe and thats IT – so I have two pairs of smart boots, two hiking boots, two sandals, two dancing shoes, two pairs of work shoes.  They all fit into two baskets at the front door, so if I’m tempted by something cute and new, I remind myself that I’l need to throw another pair out to make space, so rather not get more!!

I have piles of books and often get new books or at least, stock up on books from the charity shop – I very rarely buy them new. But I love my books and I do share them – and I certainly return any I’m finished with, to a charity shop to pass onto someone else!!  I make clothes, knit, and do quite a lot of craft like make my own birthday cards with photo’s I’ve taken, so I really try to avoid spending money on “stuff” although I’m still as susceptible to a pretty window display and a Sale sign as the next woman!

Mostly the different aspects of sustainable living are covered, I’ve also reduced almost all my costs to the point where I currently only work part time and don’t earn much (in theory, in practise of course my friends will point out that I am spending all my time supporting the Yoga centre, but I’m not actually paid for that). I’d like to do more and reduce more, perhaps growing my own food more but will need to move to enable that.  I do try to support local sustainability intiatives and charitiesas much as I can.


The Stream of Life

A very beautiful new friend, Paul, shared this with me which resonates deeply –

The Stream of Life

If we were to stand on a high hill and watch in the valley below the progress of a stream, we would see its breaks and turns, we would see its varying width, we would see clear and clouded areas, still and troubled stretches. But we would see it as one stream, flowing into itself. If we were to stand off from ourselves and from some high and mystic hill look down on this we call our life, it would not be unlike a stream, and we would see, with eyes free from the curtain of past or future, how days and months and years flow together, how all is swept along in the ceaseless progress of the soul.

There are no isolated incidents in life, though there may seem to be. No experience comes to us that is completely foreign to our consciousness, that has no relation to what we are. The happening that seems so tragic now, that seems to change our whole life, cannot, does not, affect the ceaseless flowing of our life, does not stand unrelated to the past or future, but flows from the past and is absorbed into the future. Can you remember the worries or fears of last year? Are they still as fearsome, as important, as they were then? Next year, the year after, and the year after, will you even be able to remember them? And today’s fear, which keeps your mind from rest and peace—will it be different from all the rest? It will not. It too will pass.

How soon the stream of life flows on! “I’ll never be happy again,” “I’ll never love again,” we say, but almost before the echo of our words has died away we have turned our heart and life toward the new, and laughter and light and love beckon to us from tomorrow. What we are today is the result of all that has gone before. If we could, we would not exchange our experiences for those of anyone else in the world, troubled though our stream of life may have been and rough our voyage. We would not be the unique individual that we are without our particular background, without having passed through the experiences that life brought to us, without having made the mental, emotional and spiritual growth that we have made through the years. In the honesty of our soul we must admit that we would not want to be anyone else even if we could be. What we really want to be is the best possible self that we are capable of being.

We may ask ourselves: What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? We may not be able to see our purpose clearly, we may not be able to understand ourselves or our life from a human standpoint, but if we will think for a while on a different plane, if we will ascend the hill of Truth, we shall get a view of ourselves and life that is beautiful and inspiring, that reveals new horizons and possibilities for growth and good.

Written by Martha Smock, (1913-1984) , who served as editor of Daily Word for 35 years. This is adapted from an article originally published in June 1946.

Arise & Awake

15 November on Facebook

On October 24th 2009, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for action on the climate crisis. On the same day 30 Yogis gathered together in Vienna to meditate on becoming more aware of the environment, to send healing positive energy to our mother Earth and to understand the crucial link between Yoga and Environmental consciousness.

Yoga, the ancient science of consciousness always had a comprehensive approach towards life and living. The philosophy of Yoga is based on the concept of “Pinda = Brahmanda” (microcosm = macrocosm), which states that the body (pinda) is a replica of the Universe (Brahmanda), or microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm. The individual was the sub set of the whole. Every experience that raised the consciousness of a yogi made him/her more aware of the surrounding. In fact, if I could summaries the process of yoga it is nothing but broadening of perception and thus becoming more sensitive and accountable for the individual self and others.

Goddess Earth- For the ancient Yogis, Earth was Goddess Vasudha, the cause of stability (adhara Shakti), opulence and their very existence. She sprouted the feed for their survival with nutritious sunlight from the Sun God .What Goddess Vasudha gave to them was a blessing, she was the source on which the development of their society crucially depended. Goddess Vasudha was not only very much alive but also a spiritual Being. On a gross plain she ha

Cosmos flower under the sprinkler at Camp, Val Morin

Cosmos flower under the sprinkler at Camp, Val Morin

s a body with rivers, mountains, forests, trenches and valleys. On a subtle plain she is throbbing with Prana driven by a purposeful nature, to take care of the ones who live and thrive upon her. The grace of the Goddess was never forgotten. Whenever the farmers reaped crops or the fishermen had a generous haul, mother earth was always invoked and thanked. Whenever the priests prayed or the merchants made wealth the value and vitality of Earth was accepted with gratitude. Their respect towards the nature and its components is very beautifully described in the hymns of the Vedas which were chanted for thousands of years, deeply allowing this sense of gratitude and respect to sink into the deeper recesses of the mind.

Before the seventeenth century and even as late as the eighteenth century, the nature of our planet was universally assumed to be similar to the organic and spiritual nature of man himself. Not just the Yogis of ancient India but also the esoteric circles from Pythagoras onwards to Gnostic-Hermetic initiates, ancient cosmologists and the Cabalistic-Hermetic believed the Earth to be a living entity. In the eyes of the ancient philosophers the Earth was a living creature, to quote Vasilus Valentius, an alchemist of the middle Ages “The earth is not a dead body, but is inhabited by a spirit that is its life and soul. The spirit is life, and it is nourished by the sun and the stars, and it gives nourishment to all the things that shelter in its womb.”

Somewhere around the 17th century the West went thorough a decisive phase of rewriting its concepts which changed the way the world was perceived. With the rise of thinkers like Francis Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Newton a definitive crack in the earlier view of Universe was evident. Under the influence of these scholars humanity developed more decisive and definitive methods of dominating nature, limiting them to rigorous analysis of what is measurable and quantifiable in sensible phenomena. The rise of engineering, a spate of new discoveries, inventions and flirting with the natural resources to tap into excess was the seed of what we call as the mechanistic revolution. The east was influenced by this concept because of the rise and dominance of the western and thus slowly the whole world was under the magic of the mechanistic revolution. The mechanistic world-views have no need for a wider perspective of things, indeed, they deliberately exclude it. They view the natural world like a machine.Rupert Sheldrake the biologist author of The Rebirth of Nature described it beautifully by saying “According to the new theory of the world, nature no longer had a life of her own, she was soulless, devoid of all spontaneity, freedom and creativity. Mother nature was not more than dead matter, moving in unfailing obedience to God – given mathematical laws”

Mere two hundred years later we are sitting on a time bomb of global catastrophe. The science is clear: global warming is happening faster than ever and humans are responsible. CO2 (the most important gas) has risen from 280 ppm to 379 since pre-industrial times and its growth seems to be accelerating. Average global land and sea temperatures are rising. The incidence of droughts, wildfires and flooding are increasing globally. Glaciers and the permafrost are melting. Ice at the North and South Poles is melting and breaking up. Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are increasing in severity. Fresh water resources are diminishing. On the social side, people are already being displaced by rising sea levels. Agriculture and food supply is being affected by droughts. Countries are suffering loss of life, homes, and livelihoods from the increased severity of hurricanes, storms and flooding. Insurance costs are spiraling due to ‘natural’ damages. Disease carrying insects are moving into new areas as temperature increases. Populations of other insects, like the pine beetle are exploding with devastating effect. Poorer countries like Africa will be amongst the most severely disadvantaged as they have few resources to adapt, and the regions are devastated by climate change. Rivers have less regular flow, and water for drinking and crops is drying up.

These facts are alarming, scary actually. But the point is to consciously start acting as soon as possible. This can be done by becoming more and more aware of oneself and the environment. As Mr. Gandhi says “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. Let us promise ourselves to become more aware and conscious of our habits, attitudes and behavior. Let us reduce wastage of energy both personal and environmental by becoming more accountable towards our body, mind and surroundings. Finally let us all “Believe” that it is possible, because the real change starts in the mind, with a firm resolve and Love that has power to bind us in a strong support system. This would be the living and practicing of true Yoga philosophy.

Please visit http://www.350.org for more info and resources.

Om Shanti – Prasad

Long holding of Poses “Sthira sukham asanam”

Young student holding headstand during Teachers Training in IndiaI have heard so many different things from different people, on this subject of long holding of asanas. I know a person who used to hold headstand for totally longer  than 1 hour per day (during a few different sessions each day I believe) to get her kundalini to rise. She became quite sick, and had a lot of mental problems.  The assessment was that  as a result of all the Headstand, her kundalini certainly did come up – but she was not really prepared, even though she had been staff at an ashram for some time during this practise.  She suffered incredible problems with her liver and digestive system following, and was in the ashram recuperating with ayurveda, for many years. 
Other people have a favourite asana they hold for long periods, and they are benefitting from more flexibility, and calm.
My personal feeling, now with some years of practise and some mistakes, and some successes, is that we need to hold the postures – some of them – for a long time.
I have observed that each of us prefers some asana and does not like to practise others – this is usually what is easiest for us, we prefer – and its easier because of the body/strength/injuries/shape/male female etc. 
I believe we should practise more of the asana’s we are drawn to (so for a longer time holding as well!), even up to 10 or 15 minutes if your body is comfortable and fairly relaxed.  For beginners I would never recommend anyone holding any pose except maybe a standing balance pose or something equally simple and not strenuous, for more than 2 or 3 minutes.  The body needs years in most cases to build the strength and balance to hold postures comfortably and steadily for longer than that
It is so important that we enter into a state of “Sthira sukham asanam”,  as Patanjali said, it’s a fine balance between steady holding or strength, and comfort or relaxation.
However, we also must keep practising the other asanas we like less – I believe that the more difficult ones we practise for less time and slowly work our bodies and emotions into accepting that pose more comfortably!
Note: Any asana we cannot do or find painful at all we MUST check – is it hurting because we are doing it wrong (if you practise at home, take a class with a knowledgeable, experienced teacher and ask her to observe and check that you are entering the posture correctly, and holding correctly, and exiting correctly – there is room for damage and strain in each step!!)
What I found is that one or two of my “worst” or least liked/enjoyed postures have become my favourites over the years, as I discovered things about them I needed to adjust in my body – AND in my emotions.  So for example, I used to hold forward bend for only a few seconds in my own practise as it was hard for me, and I didn’t enjoy it. 
Then I read a WONDERFUL book from a swami in Swami Sivananda Radha’s ashram, Swami Lalithananda
 and i discovered that the emotion of Surrender is attached to practising paschimothasana and I started to think about surrender and all the things that meant to me, when I was practising – and my forward bend got a lot better, but more importantly, I started to love it – it was a time I could surrender – the pose helped me to work with the mind and emotion…
So working gently into holding postures for longer is also starting to work with the mind and emotions – if you can see with your own intuition or the help of an excellent teacher (that book was incredibly helpful!!) then you maybe find the emotional/thought patterns that are stopping you from holding the pose, and you can work with those as well as the body, and start to hold for longer.  I have heard that if you hold some posture for 3 hours, steadily and comfortably, you will achieve a state of samadhi (remember that padmasana is also a pose….  )
I also heard (I think from Prahlada) that holding for half an hour means you have mastered the pose – so that seems to be the normal limit of how long you would want to hold any one pose.  But in a 2 hour very meditative class with more advanced practitioners that you know well as a teacher, it is also possible to ask students to stay holding each pose for 5 minutes (Some more difficult like dhanurasana, and salubhasana, only for 3 or less !!) as we do in one class in ATTC.
I would not do a fully 5 minutes for EACH posture regularly as a class with students, it is a special kind of advanced, explorative class which only some students will be prepared for.  In this kind of class, one needs to work very closely with the breath, and a teacher would need to be very focussed and help the students to maintain relaxed stances while reaching deeper and deeper, with the breath. 
In my own practise, I often spend 5, 10 or even more minutes in a few of the postures – I like sirsasana, sarvangasana, paschimothanasana, and ardha matsyendrasana – but even this changes, and sometimes I’ll spend 10 minutes between left and right, stretching in preparation for pigeon.  I don’t think I am fully in touch with my intuition, but am starting to listen to my body, and often these advanced long holding stretches bring out emotional and mental scars, or trash which obviously needed resolving!!
I do think that for each person it is as unique as we are individually and as much as we change, and need different things, every day!  Sometimes a quick runthrough of surya namaskaram, some backbends, forward bends, a quick shoulder stand and sideways twist, and maybe a balancing pose to finish is all I can bear – nothing being held for more than 1 minutes – but then I’ll slip into a wonderful meditation, in padmasana, which happily lasts 30 minutes, and of course lotus pose is an asana too – so is there a rule?  I don’t believe there is.  We have to see, for today,  which postures we CAN stay in for longer, and which we NEED to stay in for longer.
And listen closely to our bodies.  Where we are struggling in the pose, but feel we need to pursue it, there is that wonderful process of softening the body using the breath that just does wonders for me – once I get into that mindset, it seems like I can stay in any particular pose for any amount of time!
One special note: If I’ve had tea, coffee, chocolate, a confusingly stressful day with lots of emotions, or eaten a very big meal that is proving hard to digest, I simply cannot stay in postures for long.  And I think thats a good thing – not forcing the body when its uncomfortable.  But I do try to take less of the stimulants, because I love staying in poses for longer.

Ladies and Gentlemen…

As the girl in the picture, (the yoga mat in title is beside me silently projecting its approval), it is my pleasure to welcome you to my blog, where I’ll be recording thoughts on my path, and sharing some of the photographs from the Camera. This blog has eventualised from a ridiculously long discussion phase, I now consider myself a “Dilbert-trained Project Manager”: I know how to put things off until no-one really knows why we planned the project in the first place…

Talking about planning, there are many special friends and family who prodded me on the journey here, and suggested things – most of which I ignored, I’m happy that we each have to follow our own path – but I wanted to record that I appreciate their efforts anyway!

Thanks to Gabby, my angel, and Brad, for many things like a warm dry attic, and supporting the creation of http://www.wendyj.com, where the camera in the title will get to strut her stuff – actually, that website’s not live as this goes to press, but as Gabby and I discussed, one thing at a time, and I wouldn’t want my procrastination muscle to go into spasms.

Thanks to GAK and the little prince, my other family in London, their ‘Guest room’ always seems to be available to me at only a moments notice, and who serve the best cheese and wine in London – with the best company! They kindly insisted for the last 4 or 5 years that 30 000 images of India and Europe must be valuable and someone wants to see them! Well, now its 50 000 photos – and Gus, I still need to back them up!

Beautiful Hands bring the Divineand offering of Ashram flowers for the TempleThanks to my folks, who are unremittingly, endlessly, generously fascinated by my wanderings and warblings thereon – as parents should be – but I know most are not. This blog is for them to share in my journey more regularly – So if my family back home can kindly connect them to the WWW without changing too many settings on the PC in the office. (Make sure Mom doesn’t lose access to her Windows Solitaire game, in which case I may as well never go home again.)

Thanks to Swami Govindananda-ji, a very special Swami in our Sivananda organization, and a much-loved all-round Wonderrrfull human Being.
He finally got online with his own blog recently,
in spite of deep misgivings about what to say, technology, privacy, etc., etc., and I am deeply inspired by his courage to share.

Thanks to my well-adjusted, gorgeous, interesting and funny (not sure whether that’s Funny Ha Ha or Funny Peculiar…?) family whose presence in my life is a blessing most other people spend lives searching for. Because of all of you, I tell everyone I had a happy childhood – which is not quite finished yet, Thank you!

Thanks to Lauren, my Facebook friend ;-)) whose generosity in sharing her beach-house and Apple Mac (on which this is being typed) created the space for this blog to be born – and enable me to take a walk on the beach at sunset, teach and practice yoga every day, read all her books and some of my own, eat veggie (Blue Planet – Jai!!) when I’m not drinking chai, and generally chill out as one does in Goa!

Thanks to the two K’s, my darling blonde and brunette freundins, whose unfailing faith in me and immensely practical advice comes through the ether, email and phone, as voices in my ear, sounding like the little Shoulder Angel – common-sensical words (KZa): “don’t like the look of that One no matter how gorgeous or spiritual he is!” (and she was right) or Kb’s instruction “Don’t let them take advantage of you darling – you’re worth your weight in Gold – well, my weight actually, its more!” [You’re lovely both of u!]

So many other faces come to mind as I sit in the starlit evening breeze on my little porch, thinking how divine the process has been – how so many wonderful people became part of my life during my travels, in India, Portugal, the UK, in SA, and in the online world of email.

Thank you all for just Being here, Being you, part of my life, on the Path with me and in the World making things happen, Being difficult or loving – I love it all. This starts to sound like a Christmas card poem, but I would not be in this chair, relaxed and happy, if it weren’t for all of you. The lessons you’ve taught have given me courage and curiosity to move on, patience with the world and with myself, and the strength to accept reality but to still hope for a better world, someone else said it better:

“Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we
didn’t spend half our time wishing” – A Woollcott

procrastination dies!

There is something coming into this space — I typed for hours and then lost it, will try again later – Urrgggh