By guest, Nov 1 2017 05:59PM
The well trodden paths of vast Hampstead Heath greet me like a old friend. With each passing step I feel the comfort and support of the Earth beneath my feet, the cool breeze clears away the afflictions of my mind; I feel nourished and renewed. How generous of Mother Earth to offer her unconditional support free from exception. I reflect upon how much of her resources I consume from day to day, how easy it is to disconnect from and neglect her, is this a truly balanced relationship, or all taking and no giving back?
A feeling of gratitude naturally arises when the beauty of the natural world is illuminated, but what about those times when that very immediate connection with nature isn't there, in the midst of a big bustling city like London. I question myself on how to embed this appreciation and gratitude from moment to moment, so I am always awake to the reality of this wondrous Earth.
Ancient scripture advises us about what we should aim for; in the Yoga Sutra of Master Patanjali we learn - sthira sukham asanam - The relationship to the Earth should be steady and joyful. I'm sure we'd all like to step forward in a way that protects and contributes to all of life yet it is all too clear that as a human race our relationship to the Earth has become increasingly less steady; our consumerist nature uses and abuses the planet. Thinking about the planet and our consumption, I like to remember a beautiful mantra: 'live simply, so that others can simply live'.
How often do we ask ourselves 'Do I really need this new handbag, what happens to this plastic bottle if I throw it away, and where really is away?'. I know the temptation to opt for convenience; choosing to buy all sorts of food on the go, or new clothes for that fleeting feel good buzz. But the desire to live in harmony with others and the Earth we inhabit can only be realised through dedicated daily practice; a little extra effort , a shift in thinking helps build a greater sense of gratitude for what we already have and a deeper understanding of the consequences of our actions.
"To practice asana means to practice perfecting one's relationship with all aspects of the Earth and all beings that inhabit the Earth" Sharon Gannon and David Life.
Asana or postural practice was my entry point into Yoga. I experienced a difference in how the yoga asanas made me feel compared to other physical activity. A sort of tuning in to the Earth underneath my feet, feeling more consciously how gravity was rooting and grounding me, the experience of moving into forms of nature; the eagle, tree, mountain or snake. Moving with awareness in an asana practice trains us to come into the present moment, to be conscious of our action, both of mind and body. I experienced, through a regular asana practice, questions and reflections naturally beginning to arise about my own actions; in relation to other beings, the impression each action made on the environment within and around me, and a wave of gratitude for this precious life.
Practicing yoga waters the seeds of activism within us. By choosing to become kind and compassionate towards all we create a harmonious atmosphere both within and around us, in turn this automatically extends out into the world we all share; change starts from within. In my upcoming workshop 'Honouring the Earth' we will focus on how yoga practice can develop gratitude and appreciation for our environment, the Earth's resources and the life forces that flow through all living beings. Emphasis will be placed on standing and balancing asanas, along with meditation, chanting and deep relaxation. Based on the structure of an XL Jivamukti open class, this workshop is open to everyone with some yoga experience.
Honouring the Earth - Sunday 19th November 2-4pm at Triyoga, Soho
This workshop is part of a weekend of practice themed around gratitude: a positive state of connection. You can book individual workshops or take part in the whole weekend!
To book please visit www.triyoga.co.uk