Another year almost over, as we approach the Winter Solstice on Sunday 22 December; of course Christmas on Wednesday 25th and the beginning not just of a new year the following week but a new decade. And not forgetting that 2020 is a Leap Year so we have an extra day to fill!
Weekly classes have finished for now but will start again week beginning 6th January 2020.
For me, as most of you know, it's been quite a momentous year from a health point of view. Apart from a break after the brain surgery in May I have been able to continue teaching, albeit having to reduce the number of weekly classes. I was lucky (and grateful) to have most of my weekly classes covered by colleagues until I could start teaching again in July. I'm sure much of my progress was due to a very simple and gentle home practice, especially pranayama, and a fabulous healing meditation, shared with me by Swami GyanDharma, from his Prana Vidya course.
In August I was able to keep to a commitment to take a programme on Prana and Pranayama, developed for the EUY Annual Congress in Zinal in 2018, to Finland, hosted by the Finnish Yoga Association at their stunning Yoga Centre near Saarijarvi, deep in the forested heart of the country. I had my first ever smoke sauna in the traditional style, including bathing in the chilly waters of the nearby lake Saarijarvi (pictured). Wim Hof (aka The Iceman) may not have been impressed if he'd been there - the water was definitely not icy cold and I didn't stay in long - but it was a beautiful heart-full experience: sharing the sauna space, chatting, even singing a traditional song taught to one participant by her grandfather, to get his sixteen grandchildren into and out of the sauna.
In September I started a programme of Saturday morning seminars on Prana, Pranayama and Neuroscience at Dechmont in West Lothian - great fun for me to revise and update my prior knowledge. Turns out it was a tad unrealistic to think I could complete the topic in 4 sessions (12 hours) (see previous newsletter, August 2019) - at a guess we're only about halfway through so the programme will continue in 2020. More on that later but Dechmont fans please save the dates - second Saturday each month, commencing Saturday February 8th. There has been some interest in my running the first part of the course again, in a different venue, if time and other considerations including my own health permit. I’m still exploring that – suggestions have ranged from somewhere in Edinburgh to possibly Galashiels.
In November I completed a three-day training programme on Accessible Yoga, led by Jivana Heyman, and qualified as an Accessible Yoga Ambassador. Here's part of his inspiring statement about the philosophy behind the movement:
"Accessible Yoga is dedicated to sharing the benefits of yoga with anyone who currently does not have access to these practices, and with communities that have been excluded or under-served. All people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to the ancient practices of yoga, which offer individual empowerment and spiritual awakening."
I've been teaching a weekly specialist class in West Lothian for people with limited physical mobility for the best part of a decade now, recently with the invaluable help of a colleague, Elaine, who trained with Yoga Scotland. The challenge implicit in Jivana's philosophy is that all classes should be as inclusive as possible, rather than having specialist themes. I hope to be able to rise to this challenge next year...but I need to have my driving licence restored first!
I hope you all have a peaceful joy-filled Festive Season and that we'll continue working and learning together when classes start again in January.
With love and OMMMs