January 2023 - blending the sacred wisdom of yoga into our practice

  Over last year we had quite an agenda of themes which I hoped would be interesting and useful. It's an enjoyable challenge to find ways of linking the wisdom of the traditional texts with the asana and pranayama practices.  Almost every class ends with a yoga nidra in the Satyananda style.  Yoga nidra has spread widely now, often with modifications, and I hope everyone delivering it understands just how powerful it is. In the Yoga nidra training I received, a very useful part was reviewing Swami Satyananda's book and being given valuable advice about modifications, especially what not to use!  This was usually from a mental health awareness perspective, especially possibly re-awakening old traumas.

The weekly Accessible class continued in Livingston and we were delighted to welcome back a previous member of the group who hadn’t been able to come during the pandemic.  The Monday and Tuesday Zoom classes also continued.  Unfortunately, for several reasons, the Monday class numbers fell below a sustainable level and didn’t make it through to the end of the year.  The good news is that the final few members transferred to the Tuesday evening class. 

The live Accessible class provided good company and great discussions on all sorts of themes relevant to topics such as strength, balance, equanimity etc – not to mention putting the world to rights sometimes.  We even practiced yoga too…..

In the Zoom classes, between January and June we looked at the richness of Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras, using two contrasting translations/ commentaries.  The translations were very different! The one that was new to most of us, including me, was The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi - described as a woman's guide to the heart and spirit of the Yoga Sutras.  Needless to say, plenty of wisdom for men too.

 In July we studied the five prana flows in the subtle body and how they operate and affect our body-mind complex.  After the summer break, we spent some time with the Katha Upanishad, a traditional text relating a dialogue between a boy and Yama, the personification of Death - largely inspired by the amazing, thought-provoking Mandala Yoga Ashram retreat I’d been to in August, “Facing Death, Embracing Life.” This course was devised some years ago by the Founder/Director of the Ashram, Swami Nishchalananda, and still appears regularly in the Ashram programme, usually to be fully booked rapidly.  It certainly brought up issues for me that I thought I'd dealt with years ago.  The collective wisdom of the group was both inspiring and comforting. 

The monthly (or, more accurately, two-monthly) Yoga Workshops for experienced practitioners continued, also in real life.  This autumn, sessions moved to Saturday afternoons.  The theme was “Sharing our Practice”.  Members of the group responded to my invitation to share the teaching and we had two lovely sessions on October 8th and November 12th.  Many thanks to both fellow-teachers.  The next two workshops are in January and March 2023.

There's no doubt in my mind that although Zoom classes are valuable as they enable people from further afield to come along to the virtual space, real-life classes are to be cherished in terms of shared energy, communication, spontaneity, joy and laughter and it has been wonderful to have them back.


Summer update 2021

Heather glowing purple on the Pentland hills

                                                          Hari Om everyone - Summing up 2020 -21

The summer is rolling by and the Pentland Hills near my home are beginning to display their purple heather robes.   Here we are again at the end of a over a year of online teaching - three weekly classes, including the Accessible class and two general classes.  I also completed a monthly series of Zoominars previously held at Dechmont in West Lothian, focusing on developing a personal sadhana (dedicated practice).  Who knew we could practice yoga via Zoom until in March 2020 we found we had to! 

Thank you to those of you who stuck it out as I grappled with the mysteries of how to set it all up, being far from  a tech wizard: microphones, recording, lighting and finally having a Wi-Fi extender installed to try to improve the stability of the signal. I don't think I could even have written "improving the stability of the signal" 6 months ago.   That was in place for only a couple of weeks of classes before the break but (fingers crossed) it seemed to help.

There have been some unexpected but lovely benefits to Zooming, including people able to join from a greater distance.  That didn’t quite make up for the number of people who felt they were unable or didn’t want to Zoom, but at least the weekly groups and the monthly seminars kept going and it was great to see you all. 

Talking of Zooming from a distance, I’ve gone slightly overboard myself, taking in classes and courses from The Minded Institute in London; Swami GyanDharma’s course on the meditation practice Ajapa Japa; Swami Nishchalananda’s courses on a favourite classic Tantric text of his (and mine), the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra; my teacher Swami Vedantananda from Portugal; and even a 3-day conference on Wellness after Covid beamed from New York.  I’ve also benefited from membership of the Subtle Yoga Resilience Society formed by yoga teacher  Kristine Kaoverii Weber, who specialises in neuroplasticity and slow, interoceptive yoga.  The phrase “the pause is as important as the pose” that some of you became familiar with comes directly from Kristine.

Over the past year the overall theme of my teaching in the general classes has been the Subtle Body, i.e. the pranic system including chakras. I've taught on chakras in the past but each time I find new insights myself. I started with the five elements this time, because the first five chakras are each linked with an element.  If you include Mind as an element for Ajna chakra that’s the full picture.  Gave us lots to consider and practice!

Guru Poornima and the purpose of yoga practice

In yogic traditions, Guru Poornima is celebrated every year on the full moon day in July.  This year it fell on Saturday 24th July.  We didn't have an actual gathering because of the pandemic but the auspicious day gives us an opportunity to pay our respects and offer our heartfelt gratitude to all spiritual masters, past and present.  The guru (giver of light or spiritual teacher) may be embodied in a living person or may be the principle that exists dormant in all of us – the inner guru.  Listening to and honouring our own inner voice is part of our practice.

The day gives an opportunity for a spiritual stocktaking, a chance to renew and strengthen the goals of our practice and rededicate ourselves to it.  We don’t need to wait a whole year before renewing our dedication to practice, of course.  I find it’s best to go one day at a time!

What are the goals of yoga and how can we express them to help us move forward? The practices of yoga – asanas, pranayama, yoga nidra, meditation and many others such as chanting or writing mantras, journaling and so on, are the tools we use on our journey.  Swami Satyananda Saraswati, the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga, writes that "Yoga is the science of right living and, as such, is intended to be incorporated in daily life."  It includes  of course far more than the physical practices so enthusiastically taken up by Western practitioners.  I  feel sad when someone says to me "I can't practice yoga because I'm not flexible" , as if that's all there is to it.  I'm not particularly flexible either, nor do I have a body that can easily fit into what passes for yoga clothing on Instagram.  Yoga practices bring tangible benefits at all levels - physical, psychological and spiritual, helping us to integrate and become whole, whatever that signifies for us.   

The autumn programme

I’m currently on a break and weekly classes will resume at the end of August/ beginning of September.  I’ll send an email round to everyone with the details.

Live classes are about to resume!  From Tuesday September 7th the Accessible class will again be at the Carmondean Centre,  the venue in Livingston we were using when the first lockdown began.  I’m also devising a programme of live monthly seminars at Dechmont Memorial Hall, dates from September to December to be confirmed once I hear from the manager, so look out for these in your inbox if you’re interested.  At the time of writing, Gate 55, the venue for the Monday afternoon class, is still a vaccination centre so we’ll continue via Zoom from Monday August 30th unless the situation changes.  The Tuesday evening class will also continue via Zoom, beginning on August 31st, largely because that’s what the group prefers. 

Take care and stay safe.

With love and OMMMs, Bijam


Winter Solstice 2020

Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at the Winter Solstice

Hari OM everyone

Greetings on the inspiring day of the winter solstice, when the sun "stands still" before beginning the turn that brings us back towards longer days and shorter nights.  The winter solstice lasts only for a moment in time; but the day on which it occurs is also known as Midwinter.  After the sun has “stood still” it begins to reverse its path and the days get gradually longer, until we reach the summer solstice and the cycle starts again.  

This year will apparently be a rare occurrence - the conjunction of the two large planets Jupiter and Saturn. It happens every 20 years, but being as close as they will be this year last happened in the 17th century.  I've been out to have a look, and thought I saw something that looked like a double star, but maybe that was wishful thinking upon a star! 

The solstices have been the occasion of celebrations in all ages and cultures.  December 25th was the midwinter day in the Roman calendar before it was changed.  On the longest night and shortest day, perhaps we may go within to find gratitude for the stillness of the long winter nights.  We can also reflect on moving from darkness to light.  Maybe that's particularly striking as we rather sadly prepare to enter another period of lockdown. Let's not forget however that there are still reasons to remain hopeful and the celebrate the good things that have happened.  Starting with myself, I'm very grateful to people who supported me by coming to my Zoom classes, even (or perhaps particularly) when initially feeling challenged by technology.  As I said in the August blog, it was a challenge for me too so thank you for kindly putting up with my mistakes.  And think about the kindness and neighbourliness that developed during the pandemic - long may it continue. 

I hope everyone finds yoga practices to help them stay as well as possible, soothing the natural anxieties of this strange and turbulent time.

Class and seminar schedule update

Classes on Zoom will continue at the same times from Tuesday 5th January 2021.  The first Monday class will be on January 11th.

A reminder - the seminars previously known as Dechmont seminars resumed online on Saturday December 12th.  The current theme is Yoga Sadhana as part of living a yogic lifestyle.  The next one is on Saturday January 9th 2021.  

You can book in to my classes simply by emailing or phoning/texting me. Payment is preferably by BACS transfer although cheques are OK.

I have an idea about running a short online course on yoga for people (like myself!) living with the bone-thinning disorder osteoporosis.  We will look at some of the anatomy and physiology of the bones and then some modifications and ways of practising safely.  It will include practices for strengthening the bones as well, so suitable for anyone who is interested in this increasingly common problem.   More details in the new year.


My contact details


Email:   Phone: 07966 573 804


I hope everyone has an enjoyable, peaceful and above all safe and healthy festive season despite the current restrictions. I'm already looking forward to classes starting again. 


With love and OMMMMs






AUTUMN 2020 - thoughts induced by pandemics

Hari OM everyone

I hope you're all as well as you can be during this challenging time, and enjoying the benefits of your yoga practice and the essential contact with fresh air and green spaces. 


My last real-life class was in March 2020.  It took me a couple of weeks to gather my scattered wits and find out how to Zoom, but classes restarted online at the end of April.  I set myself up in my small yoga room, laptop precariously balanced on 3 yoga blocks to get it to the right height, and began.  A few weeks later I learned how to record classes and tried to master sending them out, but I admit that's hit-and-miss at present.  Onwards and ever upwards. It's a real shame that quite a few people can't access Zoom for various reasons.

Currently I'm running three classes a week and the most recent theme has been the five Elements or Tattwas in Sanskrit.  It is said that everything we do and think is under the influence of these 5 elements - earth, water, fire, air and space.  They are not the kind of thing we think about as "earth", "fire" etc but  created by different energy or pranic vibrations.  In balancing them we can balance ourselves. I plan to continue this theme into next year by including chakras, as all the chakras except ajna have an associated element.  

The Dechmont seminars

These monthly seminars have sadly been interrupted, the last one being on March 14th, but at least we managed to complete the "Prana, Pranayama and Neuroscience" course.  

So what now?  Zoom to the rescue I hope.

The current pandemic has prompted me to think about wellness-or perhaps better, well-being, both of individuals, society and our precious planet Earth.   Addressing this topic I'm aware of the overwhelming amount of information readily available from books, the media, podcasts, apps and so on, but thought I'd give it a go anyway, and perhaps offer it as a topic for the next series of monthly Saturday seminars at Dechmont (now on Zoom of course).  

The concept of well-being is by no means new but we do seem to struggle to find a definition precise enough to be acceptable to everyone and able to be researched to find out ways of having the best well-being we can, perhaps without indulging in unproven and expensive interventions by celebrities.  

Whatever the definitions, having Covid definitely isn't conducive to well-being!  Individual physical and psychological health and indeed the important aspect of society's and Earth's well-being are all at risk, not only from the virus but also by the responses of our various governments.  In the end who can tell whether the different styles and types of lock-down, whilst awaiting the creation of an effective vaccine,  are managing a difficult pandemic well or badly; or possibly even creating more harm than good?  A problem for far greater minds than mine to solve.  

I have, as many of you know, an abiding interest in the mental health side of well-being, from my previous profession, and cherish yoga's contribution to that. Recently I read, linked from a newsletter by Laurence Demarco ( a paper by a New Zealand psychologist, Tim Lomas PhD,  describing something called the Global Wellbeing Initiative, set up in 2019 in collaboration with the  Wellbeing for Planet Earth Foundation: what a beautiful  name. 

Most research into physical and mental health, an important component of well-being, has been done from a Western perspective, both the researchers and the people studied.   I chuckled at the acronym, new to me, describing the subjects of such research - WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic).   Most of the world's population of course doesn't come into this category. 

There is recognition that Western societies may value "Feeling good" as meaning high arousal, excitement etc; whereas in Eastern society greater value is placed on low arousal forms of feeling good such as peace and tranquillity, balance and harmony, meaning in life, relationship with nature and resilience - yoga, anyone?

I think I may have found a rich seam to tap for future "Dechmont" online seminars.  Great to see Eastern thinking being respected by Western researchers!

You'll find details of my Zoom classes on the Classes and Courses page - same times, just on Zoom. If you haven't already installed it, you can download the free app from the App store for Apple users and  Google Playstore for Android users.  I send out a reminder by email each week and it's pretty simple to log in - just click on the underlined link I put in the email.  This brings you to a "Waiting room" and I let you in a few moments before the class starts.  One of the features I'm using is the ability (if you have time) to stay on afterwards, un-mute your microphone, and enjoy a chat. 

If you're not already participating in one of my Zoom classes, just send an email and I'll add you to the list.

Warmly, Bijam







We are currently inundated with information about what is being described as the almost wartime challenge presented to us by Coronavirus and I'm not about to add to it.  Initially there was no requirement or suggestion to cancel small gatherings such as a yoga class but the advice has now changed.

As a result, with regret  but unhesitatingly in the circumstances, I have suspended all my classes and seminars and the home meditation group from 17th March 2020.  I hope to resume when it is safe to do so.  I will send out by email suggested practice plans to the various student groups.  And perhaps (only perhaps) I'll be able to overcome my technophobia and find ways of teaching online.  

Stay well everyone; remember yoga practice begins with kindness to ourselves and generates outwards from there. 

Here's a copy of the great healing mantra the Mahamitrunjaya - maybe you'd like to chant or say it on a daily basis for healing, power, transformation, immunity and strength: 


Begin by chanting the mantra AUM 3 times then






OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI (at the end of however many rounds you're reciting)


We pay homage to the universal consciousness which nourishes all beings.  May we be liberated from ignorance through knowledge of our immortal essence, just as the cucumber is severed from the bondage of the vine.

Translation by Swami Niranjanananda