Food for thought . . .

The other day, I walked into a shop on a petrol station forecourt looking for the usual coffee vending machine.  Finding it gone, and a range of greeting cards in its place, I chose a cold drink and as I paid for it, commented on the change to the sales assistant. I was met by a look of bemusement and a finger that pointed behind me.  In search of my usual cup of coffee, I had inadvertently walked past the new, and possibly biggest, vending machine in the world – and a well-known brand (that I won’t advertise here).

Apart from making me feel very foolish, the incident cause me to wonder how much else I miss in life when I’m hurrying, busy, focused, on a mission . . . whatever you’d like to call it.  Sometimes we read statements in the press that tell us, for example, that we spend around 6 months of our lives in a queue or 38 hours a year stuck in traffic.  How much of my life do I spend, I wonder, missing out on what’s around me – 30%, 40%, more than half?  Food for thought . . .


What part of ‘Namaste’ is it you don’t understand . . .?


Yoga being about unity, we’re all supposed to understand (and teachers more than anyone perhaps) that its gifts will be better distributed through community.  Here in Newcastle, yoga teachers are starting to get together so that we can find out about each other’s classes and work collaboratively, sharing practice and recommending to practitioners the best classes for them.  In this way we can make sure that there’s a class for everyone and that we can all work together.

How sad then to hear of a teacher knowingly disregarding this union by invading personal and teaching space with no attention to the respect for oneself and others that yoga actively generates.  If we can’t achieve community and collaboration through yoga, what hope for everything else?

Although we mustn’t forget that ‘Namaste’ has a range of meanings, it is generally accepted as acknowledgement of respect, in both greeting and farewell.  Let’s remember, then, every time we bow or speak it, to recognise respect – and then to walk the talk.

A is for . . .



It’s almost here at last – our next board meeting – and it’s been a long time coming, what with all the external demands made on our time, and having to lie down on our own mats sometimes with a sprinkling of fairy dust.  We’re a small board, admittedly, but a board nevertheless, and tomorrow we have a very long agenda to get through. From accounts to yoga pants, we’ll give the alphabet a run through although, as you’ll see, not in any order.

M is for money. We have to remind ourselves of this.  We have cash cards that look like it but we also have a full tin labelled ‘receipts for money we used to have’. It’s in short supply.

Coincidentally, M is also for marketing and we’ll talk about this quite a lot – what’s worked and what hasn’t. With more of the latter probably.  We really need a way to get people to understand our products and what they represent.  But it’s a B hard world out there in the ether.

So, U is for understanding.  Bill Gates once famously said that it’s OK to celebrate success but you learn more from failure (or something like that).   So F is for failure but we don’t even contemplate that possibility because . . .

. . . A is for attitude and we believe that a positive A doesn’t leave room for F.

C is perhaps the most important letter tomorrow because, of course, it stands for . . . cake! At last! And as Lent is over, it can be Chocolate Cake.  Mmmm, CC also stands for cold calling, cost-control and credit crunch.  Oh dear.

Afterwards, we’ll share some of our thoughts with you in the hope that like minds and businesses would like to do the same. After all, a P shared is a P halved, even if we do have to call them challenges these days.

What to wear for yoga

Marzipants!Why, MyogaMarzipants of course!  No unhappy revelations with these (see what NOT to wear). Marzipants are this year’s coolest look – in yoga class, at home, and when it eventually warms up, on the beach, in the park and at the shops. We love them.  Practical and stylish, comfortable (and surprisingly warm), they’re ethically made in a workshop in Goa by Marzipan Clothing Limited.  Myoga branded pants will be available on our website next week.  We’ll post to let you know.  In the meantime, we’re looking at 3D printers. They’re Myogamarvellous. Impossible is a thing of the past.

What not to wear for yoga

A friend of mine is reportedly most unhappy with me.  Having recommended Ucci’s beginners’ courses to him, he turned up for his first class in a pair of baggy football shorts and I (allegedly, and most probably) looked disapproving.

‘Loose and comfortable’ is the common advice given to people wondering what to wear for their first yoga class.  But ‘how loose?’ is the question.  Yoga asanas require of us some unfamiliar postures. In an inversion, a loose top can reveal more than just the pound of flesh that Shylock was after and leave you thinking someone put the lights out.  In aesthetic terms, gravity isn’t kind, and comfort as well as dignity and warmth can be maintained by some light lycra, perhaps sported underneath your favourite kit.  But chaps, football shorts in dog tail or baddha konasana just aren’t kind to anyone nearby, least of all your teacher who is required to look at you to check that you’re positioned correctly. This concern only stretches to major parts of the anatomy. Really.

So I hereby apologise publicly for the offence caused by a fleeting (if rather chilly) look of disapproval.  But better than the alternative I’d say, for all concerned.  There’s no picture to go with this blog. Naturally.

And still, incredulity . . .

Image courtesy of cranky

Image courtesy of cranky caregiver.

It happened again this morning.  At the end of the Today Programme (after the ‘real’ news) there was a feature on mindfulness in UK schools and its usefulness in helping young people to be aware of their conscious minds and of the stories they tell, and to be able to listen without judgement, focusing on the silences in between.  (Actually, the Head who spoke about it claimed it to be more like a self-taught CBT but to be fair, it’s not an easy concept to understand or to explain in the briefest of broadcast moments.)

But it was the presenter’s attitude that I noticed the most – one John Humphrys, known for his misplaced assumption that listeners’ understanding would be incomplete without his take on the news he relays.  He first scoffed at mindfulness as ‘some kind of yoga’, in a voice that betrayed his scorn, later expressing his incredulity that a practice aimed at improving young people’s thinking should be considered by the school head as ‘essential’.

Yoga classes are now so widespread that we could be forgiven for thinking that it has become a mainstream practice.  But beyond asana practice, yoga’s philosophy still appears to be little more than madness at the margins. Mindfulness and meditation remain the preserve of the old hippie. What a pity.  What a waste.  What a relief for those of us who know.  And what a job we have on our hands to encourage others to share our focus and our peace!

the camera never lies


I’ve been away for much of the week filming with a friend on a TV house-hunting programme, and (naively perhaps) was struck by the amount of ‘story-telling’ that shaped the footage, and the amount of time it took – four rather demanding days – to produce an hour-long programme.  Then, I thought in complete contrast, I attended a seminar on the philosophy of yoga. Quite soon, however, I saw parallels in the two experiences.

During the seminar, we talked about reality and the nature of illusion.  I have to admit that the unreality of reality is something I’ve struggled to understand in a meaningful way in the past, but days spent in front of a camera have helped me to come to terms with the concept and the possibilities.  There are truths that make good stories:  our love for each other as friends and relations, the enjoyment that brings to shared lives, the good that people do every day.  And these can be compared to the stories that we see on TV screens in a range of reality TV programmes – sketched, sculpted and scored in order to draw us in.

And then there is the truth.  And the difference between what we perceive as reality (or what we are fed by the media) and what actually is is remarkable.  So I’m wondering if what’s left when everything else is stripped away, when the mind is emptied of thought, is the same as what’s left on the cutting-room floor when a programme is finished.  If, for most of us, our lives are manufactured to create something that looks more attractive than the real thing. And if The Truman Show wasn’t entertainment at all – but a missed opportunity to explore what our lives are truly about.