Most of you already know that I am beginning to explore more deeply the links between physical practice, inclusive spirituality, ritual, and diversity. My forthcoming research project with the Open University will be an academic examination of these issues, but I’m also developing my own teaching to reflect my findings and understandings.
As part of this, I have an experiment I’d love you to be part of, either online or in person. This has grown out of Waking Wild, Slow Seasons and other courses I’ve taught previously. It will be based on my years of teaching yoga, helping to run spiritual camps, and facilitating other groupwork and bodywork techniques. It will also be informed by my own spiritual practices, including dance, ritual and spirit journeying, on my own and in groups. In group practice we create something really unique. I have seen how coming together in community can support individual wellbeing and I am also convinced that it helps each of us to craft new ways of acting and relating. This is increasingly important in a human world in which many of us find it difficult to live well. This is the work of embodiment, of being well in one’s skin. But it is also the work of social justice, of being a force for gentle good in the world. Small, focused communities of ritual practice have been quietly becoming the change they want to see in the world since history began. Now we can become part of a growing tide of yoga projects reclaiming bodywork practices to the same ends.
This is how I see it working. I will lead two special sessions a term which will run from 8 – 10pm on Wednesdays. The Vinyasa sessions will be held in the cosy village hall in Rowde, at the heart of a village community. We will use these to explore how themes such as courage, surrender and self-love can be experienced through the body. They will begin much as my yoga classes do now, but then they will explore how far we can move into a place where you are each doing your own practice. If it feels right, you might be taking a turn to lead now and again. I will hold and guide these sessions carefully. You will need a curious heart and at least a term of yoga with me. You will not need to be bendy or confident in your practice in any way. We start with however you are feeling that day, and end with tea and even cake.
The Satsang sessions will be held in my own home in Calne, at the heart of my own spiritual practice. We will use these to discuss how we found the Vinysasa sessions, what worked and what didn’t, share our inspirations and our diverse beliefs about the universe, get to know each other, etc. These will also involve tea, and you can bring your knitting if you like.
All the sessions will be supported by online activity. There will be blog posts from me to read. There will be an online discussion group so we can include the wisdom of those who can’t get to classes. You can engage in the online discussions without doing the in person sessions. You can make some of the in person sessions and not the others. But I would ask, if you can, to make as many of the Vinyasa and Satsang sessions as possible, because my aim is for us to develop as a community together.
I am asking for up to 6 people to be Guardians of this project, online or in person. This means you pay attention to the holding of space, help notice if things go awry, make sure the kettle is on and so forth. I am also funding the whole experiment in a new way. I have learnt that unless I am paid for my time, I cannot sustain this quality of focus and work. And for complete clarity, after expenses last year I took just £6000 in earnings, so I don’t have a lot of money to cover costs. For these sessions, you would pay by donation. The basic costs (hall rental, travel, printing, etc.) for this 6 month project are about £150. That’s only £30 each between 5 people. I will be adding at least 150 hours of my own time (teaching, travel, preparation, etc.). If you want this project to succeed, donate in advance with that in mind. If I receive £150, I know I can afford to go ahead. After that, anyone can donate as much as feels right for each session.
I could continue to teach the way I have been taught to – that would be easy. Instead, this will be yoga teaching as you and I have never experienced it before. This is an experiment in body practices that puts you, your unique perspective and the community we form together at the heart of what we do. We will all grow together from this. It is my task and sacred aim to hold a space to do this in that feels both light and deep; like coming home. The session dates are below. If this experiment calls to you in any way, do get in touch soon.
Wednesdays 8 – 10pm
3rd December 14
17th December 14
21st January 15
4th February 15
11th March 15
1st April 15
29th April 15
20th May 15
17th June 15
1st July 15
15th July 15