Sunday, July 05, 2015

My First Yoga Class?

Along with the refrain "I know nothing about art" when I tell people I work in a contemporary art gallery, I am also told "I could never do yoga, I'm not flexible" when I tell people I do yoga (....and this also applies to cooking). While many people are wowed by yoga positions (as it's the only "showable" thing often associated with the practice), yoga itself taps into so much more and is such a rich and complex experience which isn't about flexibility at all but about accepting your body and where it is as well as what it can do.

Flexibility should never be a deterrent to try yoga, because the practice, beyond the poses themselves is about the breathing, about the mind observation, about the meditation, and about all that comes together with the body. And those frustrations over flexibility can be the most instructive struggles as questions bubble up: where does that frustration come from? what is your relationship with that frustration? what does that reveal about your relationship to your body? What does it reveal about your expectations of the body? This rich dialogue can come through in every yoga class, even within one pose. At the end of the day, we all have a body, we are all breathing, we are all thinking, we are all living and feeling and struggling and thriving. We can all do yoga.

And when I try to think back to when I was a beginner, try as I might, I can't remember. I know that I did a Hinduism course in high school which involve a yoga practice which definitely predates my very regular yoga classes with important mentors Caroline and Amelia when I was at Harvard. But those first classes? I don't really remember them. While now I do know the basic positions and many advanced ones too, every class is new when I am being taken on a new journey, introduced to new poses and maybe reintroduced to the nuances of old poses. So, in a sense, every class is my first class.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

At least it's not raining

Mid way through June, one would think that the sun would be out in full force and every weekend would be beach-worthy. In London, however, this is not the case.

While the days are fantastically long where daylight is concerned (the sun finally wanes around 9pm these days), the quotidian weather leaves a lot to be desired. A chilly wind has persisted as we head towards the summer solstice.

The response to not inclement although not quite pleasant weather usually is: 'Well, at least it's not raining'. Such a phrase seems initially optimistic, however, the way it is constructed reveals more of a positive negativism. It really is just a milder version of: 'It could be worst'.

'Summers' here tend to be mild and long, or rather the waiting for summer tends to be mild and long. The running joke here too is that a few days of hot, sunny weather are the entirety of the summer season, whether they come in April or May or in September. I remember the line from a French movie, whose name I don't recall, in which the main characters passing a park in their black cab in London remark of the zeal with which the English sunbathe at the first suggestion of warmth and sunlight. It was funny because it is true. Whatever the tinge to the optimism of the English there is a seize-the-moment mentality when it comes to the sun's rays, a welcome yet inconsistent guest.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Poems of Spring

Surging into summer, the first bright harbingers
of spring begin to fade, their optimistic colours awash
in the brightening sun. Purple streaking into white radiating
 from the tulip's sex, anthers cluster close to the central pistil, dust,
like ashes, shedding to the fading petals. Black pigment the remnants of words
penned in blossom, words written in the wind, now evaporated like the mist of dawn.