I can’t help but ponder, and this is where you’ll find my thoughts. Each week you’ll find my latest insights added to the top.

What is yoga? Well I dunno, don’t ask me. It’s all a bit of a mystery. Most definitions start to talk about union. But union with what? The Divine, the task in hand right now? Maybe they are one and the same? But what is the Divine? How do you define the Divine?

All the great spiritual teachers and texts can only point towards this. It is beyond concept, intellect and certainly beyond words. But we continue to try and figure it out (and fight wars over it). But ultimately if it’s beyond what we can grasp with our intellect and ego, surely it’s better to acknowledge the great mystery?

So for me, that’s what yoga is…it’s about getting beyond the mind into a state of acceptance of the great mystery of life. It’s a state of ‘Let’s see’…whatever happens in life, whether good or bad, let’s see. Easier said than done.

In last Friday’s class we practiced a Tantric meditation called Tattwa Shuddhi. The meditation goes back 1000’s of years where the material Tattwa’s (Tattwa translates as suchness) are visualised in symbol form and certain Bija, or seed, mantra’s are chanted.

Very interesting that a couple of people have told me that it led to a slight out of body experience. I’m all for transcending the body, and the mind, but at the end of the day it’s important to come back down to Earth because this is where the real work is done.

Brian Clough summed it up for football when he said “If God had wanted us to play football in the sky, He’d have put grass up there”.

The same principle holds for yoga, at least the type of yoga I practice.

Another thing, the ego loves these experiences and will want more. The trouble is that they only occur when the ego disappears. So the trick is to have no expectations next time you practice. Easier said than done, but it will give you an insight into the subtlety of the ego.

Thanks to all of those who fed back on why they come to yoga classes.  For a lot of people it is about improving flexibility, strength, mobility as well as calming to mind. We all need a bit of that, me thinks.  For those who mentioned spirituality, this YouTube video by Rupert Spira may be of interest. For me, he explains complicated stuff in a simple, practical way.  A couple of phrases which stick out for me:

  • Silence is the highest form of prayer
  • A realisation of the Divine by a monk: Thou art the love with which I love thee

 Worth a ponder, at the very least….

Rcently, I went on a retreat to learn a Kriya Yoga technique which combines breathwork (pranayama) with chakra purification.  It has quite a subtle yet profound effect…is that an oxymoron?  It is considered a fast-track to self-realisation (if that’s your thing) and literally enables connection with the inner light, sounds and vibrations that are present in all.  Wow, is all I can say. 

For ‘quality control’ purposes I cannot share the full sequence but I’m happy to speak to anyone interested in learning the technique directly from a Kriya Yogacharya. Click here for a link to their website if you are interested to find out more.

I have been reading some works by Paramahansa Yogananda over the last few weeks.  He wrote ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’, amongst many other books and brought Kriya Yoga over to the west in the 1900’s.  He talked about ‘maya’ or illusion in one article I read. Yoga and Buddhism say that the life we live is an illusion.  But what does that mean, really?  It feels quite real to me, especially when I stub my toe…  

Paramahansa Yogananda put it simply: the illusion is that we are separate [from each other and the divine].  And it got me thinking that as consciousness shifts, the interconnectedness of all things is becoming more and more apparent; how we think, act and behave has a massive impact on those around us and the rest of the planet. So next time you see a stranger give them a little smile, and it could well change their day for the better. And smiling at others will make your day better too 🙂 

Well, I’ve had some very deep ponderances this week but to be honest I can’t remember any of them.  I’m sure they will resurface at some point, so for now I’ll keep quiet.  But on that point, is it possible to be truly quiet? 

Maybe the answer is to meditate on ‘Be still and know that I am God’

This last few weeks I have been chanting the Gayatri mantra most mornings. Apart from Om, it is the most famous mantra used in Yoga.

It is a mantra to awaken awareness, leading to insight. During the repetition of this mantra ( I repeat it 27 times), the awareness is towards the third eye found at the eyebrow centre. At first, imagine or visualise a radiant source of light and let the mind merge with it. It is a powerful mantra which can be used as preparation for meditation. We’ll be chanting the mantra on Fridays before the 6pm class and your welcome to join me from 5:15pm.

Om Bhur Bhuvaha Swaha

Tat Savitur Varenyam

Bhargo Devasya Dhi Mahi

Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat

Satchidananda.  Or if you like Sat – Chit – Ananda.  Translated as Existence or Being – Consciousness or Knowledge – Bliss or Joy. It could also be translated as ‘Wake Up! – Be Present! – Find That Inner Smile!’ 
This week we will meditate on Satchitananda and see what it brings. Prepare for liberation….

The practice of surrender known as Ishvara Pranidhana.  It translates as surrendering all of our actions to a higher source.  To me it’s about doing what I can to the best that I can and then letting go of it.  The analogy is that we plant a seed in some soil, water it, place it in the sun, and eventually that seed will germinate.  We have done our part, and the rest we have to leave.  We wouldn’t go back each day and pull the seed out of the soil to check whether or not roots have developed, we trust in the process. 

It is like this in yoga practice: we come to the mat or the meditation cushion when we can and practice without expectation, and over time there is a subtle change.  When there is no expectation, the magic happens. My motto is ‘always unexpect the expected‘.

I’ve been continuing my exploration of breathwork (the new and trendy name for pranayama).  With a beginners mind, I have revisited the yogic breath, alternate nostril breathing for balance as well as the box breath.  It’s always good to revisit old friends and see them with a fresh pair of eyes.  We’ll be looking at these in class this week to help calm the mind and become grounded.

Those who came to the sessions last week will have experienced the power of the breathwork practices that I have been doing recently.  As I am sat here, upright on a chair with both feet connecting with the ground, I am aware of my breath.  As I breathe in, I feel the belly expand as the breath is directed beyond the navel.  Join me.  The breath fills the abdomen, then the lower rib cage, then the upper chest all the way into the relaxed shoulders and neck.  And then I breath out.  Releasing any and all physical and mental tension. For a few breaths, my eyes are closed as I revel in the present moment.  There is nothing to think about other than being aware of the present moment.  And then, after this short blissful experience, I come back, refreshed.  

The breath connects the body and the mind.  But we are conditioned not to breathe naturally.  It’s common to breathe into the upper part of the chest as opposed to the belly.  By simply watching the breath, it helps to relax the body and the mind and release trapped energy and emotion. There are so many physical, mental and emotional benefits from something that is literally at the end of your nose.  Over the next few sessions I’ll be spending some time exploring the breath and hope that you can experience the benefits first hand.

It’s a hectic old life and one which seems designed to keep us increasingly in our heads, nice and stressed.  So many distractions, things to do, to keep us entertained and prevent us from coming back to our selves.  The anti-dote to this, I find is a really grounding yoga practice and meditation.  As I am writing this, both of my feet are firmly planted on the ground and I am feeling the connection with the earth.  Join me if you like.  Feel into the legs, the buttocks, the lower back and upper back.  Relax the shoulders.  And the arms. Feeling into the hands.  Then soften the forehead, the face, the chest and the belly. And breathe in and out. The whole of the body is breathing in and breathing out.

Welcome to the present moment, my friends.

I’ve been talking to people about yoga and how it’s more than the physical postures that we associate with it.  Whilst the postures, or asana, are a good entry point to yoga, for a lot of people they are put off because they think you need to be super-flexible in the first place.  Others get so into the postures that they get stuck there…metaphorically, not physically.  I should state however that I did get stuck in a posture once, and had to be helped out, but that’s another story.

Anyhow, for those who come a little earlier on a Friday know, I am a big fan of mantra.  It makes my heart sing.  And if you’ve never tried it, give it a go.  It’s time well spent.

If you aren’t into that, maybe you could explore Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga or Raja yoga.  If you don’t know what they are, worth having a Google…

I’ve been dipping into ‘The Wisdom of Balsekar’ on the essence of enlightenment through the teachings of Advaita.  This says that all is one, the illusion is separation and it is the mind which creates this apparent separation.  We musn’t forget, however, that the mind is very helpful, but can be too helpful most of the time.  For example, reminding us of all the stresses and dangers that may surround us, even if they don’t.  

It is the mind which desires our liberation and takes us onto the path of liberation, but it must then get out of the way.  But it wants to be there to enjoy the feeling of liberation, when in fact that can only be achieved when the mind disappears.  Anyhow, no matter how important, there is no rush on the journey to awakening, because this desire to awaken itself becomes an obstacle.  What a complicated thing the mind is, always in need of something and in such a hurry, but why be in such a rush when the head is already in the tiger’s mouth?

Most people associate yoga with very flexible people getting into contortions and tying themselves in knots.  And for a lot of people, the physical practice or ‘asana’ is the entry point and is often enough.  But the act of ‘yoga’ is much more than this. Through meditation and other practices, it becomes an act of union by recognising that which is divine within us that is separated from the Divine (with a Big D).  This apparent separation is due to the incessant chatter of the mind, both conscious and subconscious.  Over time the space between the chatter gets bigger and bigger and we get a glimpse of peace. But it requires consistent practice which is carried out simply for the joy of the practice and with no expectations.

My conclusion is to maintain a beginners mind and always unexpect the expected to see the real joy in life.


Going on a retreat is an opportunity to be quiet away from all of the normal distractions of life. At first it can be quite tricky to just ‘be’.  No mobile, no book, no trying to do anything, not even trying to meditate.  Just sitting, being open and aware of whatever comes.  Worth giving it a go and seeing what happens.

I’ve been contemplating spiritual practice following some advice from a new friend, Kirtan Pete. The suggestion being to incorporate the following into a practice:

  • A necessary in-depth analysis of the conditioning of ones own mind
  • Practices for the ‘purification’ and ultimate ‘escape’ from the downward pull of this conditioned mind
  • The means to experience the highest state of awareness, the remembering of your true Self.

For me this comes through the practice of sitting quietly, being with the mind and cultivating awareness of the downward pull. 

How about you? What is your downward pull?

I’ve been practicing a meditation on the chidakasha which I will be sharing this week.   Chidakasha is a Sanskrit term that means “space of consciousness” or “inner space.” Having found this space, repeating the mantra ‘Om dum durgayei namaha’ helps to clear obstacles in the mind.

nowt much….

The sacred mantra OM.  We’ll be chanting this on Thursday and Friday and meditating on the vibration. 

How on earth I managed to not get hit by an acorn when all around me they were falling from the giant oak I was walking under.  A cosmic joke, me thinks.

And finally, here is a bit of wisdom from Rumi from the 13th century and considered as one of the greatest poets known to history:

“Here is a relationship booster that is guaranteed to work: Every time your spouse or lover says something stupid make your eyes light up as if you just heard something brilliant.”