What’s next

February 26, 2023

I love it when the shala is busy, the collective energy and focus are amazing, but there’s still time for smiles and waves across the room.

The shala is so much more than just the bendy stuff, it’s the community and the effort Hamish and Louise put in to make it a community where everyone is included and supported. I’ve needed that support over the years and will be forever grateful not just to the teachers, but also some fellow students who have looked out for me over that time.

Conference is one of the ways the community is supported. Somehow todays seemed to be aimed at me, with the potential changes I’m likely going to have to make to my very part time working and what could come next.

H said as we get older everyone reaches a point in the asana race where they get to an end point, that last ever posture, thinking Kapo in my case, it’s usually an age thing, we lose the flexibility, the stamina, illness or injury take longer to recover from, at which point L helpfully added we start to lose poses.

Once we reach this point then the practice should change from being quantitative to qualitative , it should be about our quality of concentration, that 90 minutes should be about being mentally present where you are, “be here now” as H put it.

Find your strength through your humility.

It feels like I’ve been on the cusp of the Q to Q change for some time, both in my practice and my life. Getting Kapotasana added at 58 is just down to dogged persistence, of not having the sense to know when Im done and a mad determination to make up for the years of illness and injury that blighted my practice, a sense of now or never, (ab)use it or lose it.

As I alluded to in my previous post I think the very part time job is ending, luckily I don’t need it from a financial perspective, but I do need something other than yoga to get me out of the house. When I (semi) retired 3 years ago Louise told me I should teach, but I felt unable, unready and mentally I wasn’t stable enough, still struggling with the shit of the previous years and still receiving counselling. Then the you know what hit and I hadn’t thought about it since, the 2nd lockdown had me considering jumping under a bus I was struggling so much, luckily the buses weren’t running. But today a friend at conference again said I should Teach. I wonder Is it the right time now where it wasn’t before.


Caring less

February 19, 2023

Now I’ve got to a posture, Kapotasana, that I can’t do from the get go for the first time since Pasasana I realise I’m happier with where my practice is than I have been in a very very long time. To be honest I never expected to get given Kapo. It’s given me something to work on without the expectation that I’ll ever be able to do it. I try, I try very hard 4 or 5 times a week but really it’s only at the shala with help that anything happens, heat sure helps too.

In some ways Kapo feels like an end point in this particular project, I can’t see me getting the “Billy no mates” next posture this lifetime. There has been a minuscule improvement in my Kapo attempts , L actually managed to get my hands flat on the mat today, but honestly I have no expectations, just a strange satisfaction with where I’m at.

The Gym club job also seems to be coming to an end too after 4 years, not that anyones said anything, but there have been murmurings about wanting to change my hours in a way that I’m not interested in taking up, watch this space…..

When I retired originally I had ideas, nothing concrete about what I wanted to do, I really just needed mental space and physical rest after the stress and tribulations of my parents deaths. I’d discussed it with the counsellor, who stopped me going over the edge and not being here to write this, I’d be retired, mortgage free with a cat , well that all happened but we didn’t get into what would fill the time, then covid hit.

2 years of covid later, which feel like two wasted years. With yoga being in a good place, I’m no longer pushing for progress, the very part time job probably ending I feel like it’s time more than ever for me now, at 58 a need to finally start to live before it’s too late.

Tthe Shala lies on the boundary of HS2.

Elegant ?

January 22, 2023

I practised at the local shala/studio on Friday, I actually shouldn’t have done after later reading the advice on the blood donation leaflet they gave me Thursday afternoon after I donated my nice O+ blood, no exercise for 24 hours it said. Does Ashtanga count as “exercise”?

I was actually a bit tired and at various points thought about bailing out, but having made the effort to go and paid my money, I like to get full value and do my full practice. Somehow I got to the end, got tortured in Bhekasana and Kapotasana, stood up from 3 dropbacks, then promptly fell asleep in Savasana. I mean properly nodded off, when I pulled the blanket over me there were 10 people still going, 20+ minutes later when J gave me a nudge there were 3 of us and the other two were getting ready to leave!

I have a quite long practice these days and during the morning I’d had 3 mat neighbours, the last being Jo who starts her practice with the beginners. I was aware of her, but when I’m in my practice and without my glasses on I don’t take in much what others are doing, apart from Michelle who always practises opposite me and who sometimes has a laugh as we plod through.

Friday was a plod, more like a slog after about Navasana, but in the cafe as we had tea after Jo said she enjoyed having such elegant inspirational practitioners either side of her! I was a bit flabbergasted by this, Kylie on her other side has a nice practice, but I certainly wouldn’t say there’s anything elegant about my practice. I guess it’s a bit like the Duck analogy of the graceful way a duck crosses the pond, but you don’t see all that work going on below the surface.

It’s definitely a project

December 16, 2022

The breath as art.

It’s been a month since Kapotasana unexpectedly came into the horizon and my practice. I don’t think I’m anywhere near my feet, I haven’t even seen them, let alone touched them. But for all the mystique, fear and stories around Kapo I’m actually enjoying having something to work on, a posture I can’t do, a (very long) work in progress.

The one positive so far is that I think Kapo has improved my dropbacks, I haven’t crashed one since the Kapo experiment began. If I’m lucky I get help twice a week, though I’ve noticed the day after I get intense help (torture) from a teacher my practice isn’t great, I can’t imagine getting assisted intensely in Kapo every day. Kapotasana does take a lot of physical energy.

That said I’m basically home alone for the next month with Christmas Day, New Year’s Day falling on Sundays, with rail strikes the two weekends either side, so we”ll see how that goes. It’s also time for the annual contest to see how many Lindt balls I can eat before I can’t bind Pasasana.

The practice year is definitely ending better than it started, after 10 months of sickness, low energy, the after effects of covid, Acupuncture, massage and Kapo seem to have given me a new lease of life.

Above is a photo from the only workshop I’ve done in the last 3 years with Jayne Wilton Jayne is a friend, yogi and acclaimed artist, who specialises in capturing the breath in art form. Capturing the breath on a metal plate, printing it before it disappears.

I’ve no doubt that this time next year I’ll still be plugging away at Kapo, maybe I’ll have spotted my toes in the distance, then again…..


November 24, 2022

Indulge me. I last saw Florence and the Machine in November 2018 , a week or so before my mother died. The concert was great, but I wasn’t completely present, expecting the phone to ring with “news” and guilty thoughts around should I be here instead of at the bedside, despite the fact that she was so out of it on the meds she wouldn’t have registered my presence.

Almost 4 years to the day later, after a pandemic, the death of both parents, I’m again at the O2 to see Florence in concert. This time I’m not seated, I’m standing 10 rows back from the stage among a huge, bouncing, dancing, joyful audience enjoying a wonderful concert.

At one point Flo starts talking about the last 4 years, how she’s missed live audiences and how this night feels like a resurrection as we are once again allowed to come together to dance and sing and feel free. During these years hearing Flo’s songs made me emotional, my mind going back to 2018 waiting for Mum to die, but this night feels like I’m suddenly free of that guilty emotion and finally free to be able to just enjoy and become lost in the songs and dancing, a resurrection for me from negative guilt and emotion.


November 9, 2022

Impromptu trip into the city for a medical survey thing, an excuse to go in earlier and go to the shala.

Good to see Hamish, he’s always so welcoming when I make it in on a week day.

Practice as usual in that place, in that warmth, always feels easier. This year practice has been a struggle, AYL has kept me going.

H helps me with Pasasana, I plod through to my last pose Laghu Vajrasana, as I come up H is standing over me , so I laughingly ask “what are you after?”. He looks across at Louise and asks her “is it time?”. She says “yes“. So I ask “time for what?”

11 years after Pasasana arrived, 10 years after I broke my shoulder and thought my Ashtanga journey was over, it was time for Kapotasana. Yes it’s just a pose and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but it feels like a seminal moment after such a crap year of sickness. Now I just need to find a way of stopping my hands sliding backwards. This feels like a long project.

It’s not as much fun these days

November 1, 2022
I said to L, this year has been a disaster for my practice and getting to the Shala, the first two thirds of the year I had 2 chest infections, Covid and Chicken pox and 8 months after covid I’m still suffering the after effects of tiredness, no energy and a cough that’s never properly gone away. Shala attendance in the final third of the year has been decimated by moon days and the constant rail strikes, making it impossible to get there.
L’s reply was succinct as ever, “keep going, it all passes. Get up start again and don’t worry”.
I did make it this Sunday, it took 2 hours instead of 30 minutes, but I got there. Practice is mentally and physically hard, or harder these days, it’s not fun and the frustration of not being able to do what I could easily do a year ago is starting to grate. I worry that at some point I’ll just think what’s the point? I retired from work at 55, should I retire from yoga at 58? For me there has to be some level of satisfaction or achievement for the effort and sweat.
Part, well a lot, of making the effort to go is the community that is AYL, Hamish and Louise and all the friends who wave, smile or say hello as we do our thing, you don’t feel anonymous despite the numbers. The numbers are back post covid, when I left there was a line to the door waiting to start.
This week we also had Conference, Hamish talked about the menstruation and Ashtanga survey the shala recently conducted. AYL has never said ladies should take days off or refrain from inversions etc. he said take the time off if you want to and that goes for the guys as well. Here’s a link to menstruation survey results.
In other news he mentioned about the yellow walls, not withstanding yellow paint being cheap, go figure, but yellow makes it easier to focus, white is too bright and makes him think of penguins!
Louise mentioned migraine and yoga, she suffers as have I in the past. Apparently Chakorasana , aka backward roly poly, can induce migraine. I stopped doing Chakorasana in my practice after the shoulder fracture and surgery and weirdly I haven’t had migraine since, the body knows best it seems and I can’t say I miss Chakorasana anyway.
Sharath is returning to London on 4th August next year, hope he gets a visa, those hoping to go to Mysore seem to be having major issues with the new appointments system at Indian consulates in the UK.

Looks like this will be another year that’s going to pass with the hope that next year is better. The only real success has been learning how to make my own Eccles cakes.


September 4, 2022

Hooman you are not going to yoga

Practice is gradually coming back at looooooooong last after what has been a pretty shit year of illness. I’m feeling better after my first trip out of the country in 3 years to Washington DC, where I got a nifty new dropback head landing toy!

Pointy thingy!

Back in Blighty I added another year to my scoreboard, 58 in case your wondering, I wonder what percentage of 58 year olds in this country can do dropbacks.

Local Shala helping me celebrate my birthday.

It’s the NHS who seem to have reclassified me. The UK are rolling out the autumn covid booster program starting with care homes, nhs staff, Carers etc, then the next group to be invited will be the over 65’s and those designated as vulnerable. Friday morning I get a text from the NHS inviting me for my booster. I’m nowhere near 65, so I guess after Chest infections, Covid, chicken pox plus paramedic intervention and a day in hospital being tested I’m now classified as vulnerable. When they started the covid jabs I waited nearly 4 months to be called, 4th time round I’m being stabbed 3 weeks in. Luckily I got an appointment for moon day Sunday , so if I feel shit afterwards as I have on the previous 3 then I can just go back to bed.

Straight arms, head last!

July 26, 2022

The local shala has been recording some of our practice for their social media. I don’t mind as it gives me a better idea of where I am.

Still landing too far back even with assistance. Still can’t get back the bend I’ve lost in my upper back. I do have some control once I’m coming up, but need reminding to keep my head back.

It all counts

July 11, 2022

It all counts, even if it doesn’t happen. 5 months post covid and 3.5 months after chicken pox I’m still struggling to summon the energy to do my full practice more than once or twice a week and as for the dropbacks, if I manage to stand up once it’s a miracle, I just can’t seem to get back that control I had before all the illness.

H said at our study group that even thinking about yoga counts as doing yoga,not sure about that. There is a self induced pressure to knock out our full practice every day, but that can easily lead to burn out and injury. As we get older it seems we have to be more pragmatic about what our practice on any given day is, especially when you factor in work, family and life in general. It’s been good to hear H and L address this and takes some of the pressure off to perform.

Louise did a workshop in Essex recently and addressed the dissatisfaction and disappointment we sometimes feel with our practice.

Do not be disheartened….Of course it is going to be a struggle. Everything worth having always is. Nothing is straight forward. There are times when you feel like giving up and feel disheartened. If we fall, we just get up again. No effort is ever wasted. No effort is ever lost and no harm is ever done. When we plant a seed in the soil, we should water the seed properly. Otherwise the seed will be destroyed. This is not the case in yoga. Whatever is done produces the proper result, in good measure, at the proper time. Nothing is lost. The foundation is always within us.” – Louise Newton