Sitting in London, watching the people rushing to and from the station and the traffic pound by outside the organic cafe where I am trying to stay calm and connected, I am strongly reminded how absolutely blessed I am to live where I live and do what I do. And I feel grateful that my lifestyle and location enable me to offer a haven of peace, healing and learning to others living in cities, giving them a real break from the relentless pace of life and helping them find inner calm and balance once more.
When we look deeper into the meaning of yoga, for us as human beings, we realise that what we are working towards is a recognition that we are not separate. This won't be news to most of you, we hear this again and again. But how often do we really get the opportunity to live that non-separation and bring it into a minute-by-minute reality of being?
Even in the yoga studio you are probably plagued with thoughts such as, “Did I put enough money in the meter for my car?”, “Must remember to buy broccoli and my Omega 3 pills on the way home,”, “Shit, forgot to tell my boss that I’ve booked his car in for a service,”, “I wonder if that cute guy from the gym will text me?”…. We all know the endless and persistent and often crazy cycles of our mind. It just won’t sit still.
This is mainly because we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to disconnect from the stimuli that cause this over-thinking, for long enough, or deeply enough. A 90 minute yoga class is great to switch off from work, but without a doubt we have all experienced some form of controlling or fantasy-related activity going on in the background of our mind as we're in downward dog, ie we’re still trying to organise or escape from our lives.
Getting away from it all for a long weekend, a week or even longer is for me an essential in balancing the crazy speed at which the world is turning nowadays. And leaving my phone and computer at home (or even going somewhere where there is no reception - imagine that!!!) is part of that process of cutting myself off from the frantic pace of modern life.
Retreating in nature is the fastest and most powerful way to disconnect from all that keeps us disconnected. The first day or two of not checking your phone constantly might (will!) feel uncomfortable - just consider how addicted you have become to constant electronic communication! But beyond that, the longer you remain in nature, present with your breath, taking in the beauty of your surroundings and wondering at the splendour of Creation, the deeper the detox and the more complete your return to your much more normal and balanced state of mind and state of being will become - that of being connected to your body and your breath, not your devices.
This summer already I have had the blessing of teaching out of doors - in Europe at Ljubljana Castle in Slovenia, and on the shores of the Kreidesee in Hemmoor, Germany. And I took this back to my classes in Dahab and ran the evening sessions on the beach. What a transformation. What a sensation of being able to breath more deeply, to relax more completely, to feel a far deeper, more profound sense of inner peace. Connecting with the earth, reaching up the sky, feeling the breeze caress my skin, listening to the wind rustle through the leaves of the trees, or the waves ripple along the beach. It reminded me what a complete and utter blessing it is to live in Dahab, with the ocean, the beach and the mountains all within a few minutes from my front door. And even if you live in a city, nature is not too far away from you either - a park, a short drive in your car, or even a few hours on a plane. Make the effort and feel the difference it will make.
Join me this autumn for our series of retreats and workshops: