“Calming the mind is yoga. Not just standing on the head.” Swami Satchidananda
This week, despite the heat in Manchester, I’ve done quite a bit of gardening in the evenings, when most of our North facing garden is in the shade. I notice my mood is better if I’ve spent time outdoors, especially pottering around and watering the plants. I’ve rationalised my plants into bigger pots, pushed together so that I can water everything I need to and bigger pots retain the moisture. It’s also the first summer I’ve watered shrubs in the garden. It takes me about half an hour to water the pots (with a watering can and water from the water butts). We have had so little rain here – and the temperatures have been in the high 20s for a couple of months. Also, I’ve put succulents, sedums and drought tolerant plants in my hanging baskets. Gardening helps me be mindful – as does yoga.
How yoga helps my mind, body and spirit
I’ve been practising yoga, on and off, for about 12 years, starting completely by accident. A friend of mine had a pal who was learning to be an Iyengar yoga teacher so needed people to practise with. It was right next to work, straight after work so it seemed a good thing to do. It changed my life.
When I was younger I had poor spacial awareness and was always tripping over, which lead to some hilarious incidents including my Steve (my former partner) pulling me out of a peat bog as I’d sunk up to my knees and was slowly falling face forward into the bog. Another time I went flying, just as a busload of tourists came round the corner in very rural Ireland. I was always collecting bruises from bumping into things.
It’s a long time ago, but the first things I noticed doing yoga was that it helped me stretch (especially my hamstrings), helped calm my brain as I was concentrating on breathing and the position of my limbs. I learnt to do corpse pose (Shavasana) not ‘banana’ pose as my first Yoga teacher Jacky named it. Yoga isn’t a quick fix – it took me about 6 weeks to see the real benefit. I carried on with Jacky’s classes and then John Aplin for years until my work pattern changed.