Tag Archives: meaning of life

Zombies and handbags

 Falling out of the Guardian this weekend was another one of those pointless, highly produced, expensive looking supplements on fashion and design.

It didn’t really contain either. Most of the content was advertising trying to sell stuff none of us need and even if you did would wear it? The advert for The Coach New York 2015 Spring Collection, called Swagger, really excelled. Zombies 8 zombies cluster around an open top car. Judging by their lack of weight, lank hair and vacuous expressions they have been dead for sometime. If you have seen the 1970’s version of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers you will know what we mean. invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-photos-1 In an effort to look arty and challenging the Coach reveal their real business model- to keep us all zombie-like so that we buy more and more of their pointless stuff. You don’t have to look dead to be dead, but in case there is any doubt the advertising executive have just gone a little further to put their point across. Which is if you want this stuff hard enough you can transcend death…you will be dead but what the heck you will look good and won’t stick out, appearing different from the other zombie friends. If you want to avoid the zombie in you the key is to know the difference between what you need and what you want. As the Rolling Stones told us…

You can’t always get what you want You can’t always get what you want You can’t always get what you want But if you try sometimes you just might find You get what you need

Or as we say in yoga: Breathe in, Breathe out, repeat.

Om Shanti everyone…

Mapping out your intentions…

This weekend we completed our first workshop for 2015 with the third annual hosting of our popular new year, Back On Track workshop.  Based on intense practice combined with moments of complete stillness through deep Yoga nidra and Sankalpa making this workshop was based on three key principles:

  1. Your Passion: When you just feel compelled to do.
  1. Your Purpose: When what you do feels right. When you feel your most creative, purposeful and productive.
  1. Your Potential: When what you do makes a real and lasting  difference for  others and yourself.

When we practice yoga we begin to know what makes us do what we do. When we know what is useful or can be discarded in our thinking, we make changes knowing that like a good building  everyone is designed and constructed for a certain purpose. Our roll as yogis, as a human beings to is allow that purpose to flow into the world.

This year we put a new creative spin on our Sankalpa by asking our YLP yogis to make a map, firstly describing where they are right now (location) where they want to go (destination)  and the route they would need to take  to get there (intention) .  The map would serve as a  tool to  describe self observations – and then how to intuitively move on towards what ever goals or tasks they are designed to do.

To support this, Mick gave a short talk on looking, knowing and observation in yoga. Describing,  piece by piece the difference between the observed and observer, from the external to internal experience  finally leading to an experience (however partial) of  our deeper consciousness, the observer of who and what we are. The witness which knows where we are going and how…..The Sankalpa is the result of this experience.

Back on track 2015







Back on Track is one of the YLP’s, Yoga in Action workshops, designed to show how yoga science and practice can be used to reveal  a more creative, fruitful and meaningful life.


Something missing?

Last night was one of those classes that seemed to finish before it began. It just flew by.

We talked a little about feeling incomplete. That knowledge that suggests there is something missing. In yoga science this knowledge is described as duhka, which expands into defining an overall basic dissatisfaction with our lives. We all have it, and as the Buddha told us, to be human is to suffer.   According to many great teachers this feeling of void, of emptiness, is pre-programmed into our DNA as a way of motivating us to search for something more lasting and profound. Whether you act on it or not, we all intuitively feel that hovering just out of sight is a deeper awareness of ourselves – a happier, more spontaneous, loving version.  We have a choice though. You can either direct your search outwards and shop or you can direct your search inwards and Be. The first route is the world of marketing and advertising and despite what they tell you, buying more stuff will not keep you happy for long. Eventually it will only serve to fuel your sense of void, which is exactly what they want. Not happy? Buy this, then this, then this, etc, etc.

An old swami teacher of mine would say that people who buy more and more stuff have increasingly larger voids to fill. Given where we are now; a divisive, increasingly unfair world of conflict, intolerance and pointless mass consumption, fuelled by 24 hour global media and a politics of limited ideas and leadership, we can only conclude that our collective feeling of duhka is deeper then ever. It’s pretty clear that we are not in the best of places at the moment. But it is also an opportunity as we say in consultancy…

So as yogis we have a responsibility to be happy. It is not difficult to do once you know that nothing outside of ourselves will bring happiness or peace of mind. All you have to do is stay present and know that is all all you need to be is free from want. Once we attach ourselves to things as way of a defining ourselves the opposite happens….we lose our experience of being alive.  The Yoga Sutras are pretty clear on this:

When we are established in non-attachment, the nature and purpose of existence is understood.  (2:39)

Remember though it’s okay to buy things. Just don’t mistake linking the things you buy with who you are.  That way you will never need to go to the Trafford Centre again.



Peanut butter Jelly yoga…

Sadly my adventure in Canada comes to an end. Ive spent a month at yoga camp Val Morin, Montreal, I’ve seen the Montreal City Yoga centre (one of the first opened) and now i’ve just spent five days at the Toronto centre. The Montreal centre is beautiful, small and calm with the most amazing energy.
I recommend everyone to go and spend some time at one of the Sivananda yoga ashrams. I feel this time I appreciate the full meaning of yoga. Mainly in the west we concentrate on asanas. Yoga isn’t asanas. Its a life style encompassing breathing, meditation, diet, learning and work. In the last four weeks i’ve done the least amount of asanas I’ve done in the last six months. But i’ve learnt and served and chanted and lived the life for a short time. All cool and a great big stepping stone on the spiritual path.
And now i’ve decided to come back and do TTC at the end of the year – Mick watch out!!
See you next week,
With love,
jody xx

Spot the difference…

Last week Mick gave a talk on Change as part of the city’s 4×4 talks on the Human City.  As you might expect Mick took a yogic view on change and attempted to introduce an audience of design students, planners and architects to pay attention and be in the moment.  A tricky task!

Mick says more and more of his talks on design and architecture are really talks on yoga but heavily disguised and at some point it will be hard to spot the difference …IMG_0779

Hurray….YogaLife classes back om…

Hello Everyone.

Yes we have heating now and the space is warm. We checked it last night. So YogaLife Classes with Mick will start on 7.00pm 6th March at Chorlton Central. Then from the Tuesday 11th March we will be doing two YogaLife Classes per week, Tuesday and Thursdays same time same place,  as we know some of you are very keen.

So come along if you can. We have missed you!

Mick & Sue. OM.Xthermometer

180 degrees…

A few weeks ago The New Statesman magazine called for a ‘Revolution of Consciousness’ There is a well thumbed copy at YLP HQ. You can read about it here.

It’s worth tracking down. Between all of the excitable stuff from Russell Brand who was guest editor there is a well-organised argument for change based very much on Yoga principles.   There is a great article from one of our heroes David Lynch. We have tagged him before with his work on meditation via his Foundation. He too calls for revolution. A revolution of 180 degrees where we turn attention inwards, inwards, inwards, as opposed to outwards, outwards, outwards. We often do this at the start of our YL classes. This, he says, is where we will find the solution – in particular to the economic, social and environmental turbulence we currently experiencing following the greed of banks and the incompetence of our politicians, which is very much the theme of the NS issue.  We were really struck by Lynch’s accompanying sketch diagram which is a brilliant illustration of how we move from the ‘surface’ of life’ as he describes it, into the Unified Field – something we often talk about in class and most certainly experience in our practice.  In many ways if we were to write a manifesto to support our YogaLife then the NS Revolution of Consciousness would form part of it. It’s important though that we rise above politics and economics, as they are not real, and still very much part of the problem.

So what can we do?

Given the mess we are in, the lack of any plan for the economy, energy and the environment – .our role is to stay tuned. Keep paying attention and carry on with our yoga practice. That’s the way we can make real and lasting change right in the heart of our own community and make, as Lynch says a beautiful and peaceful revolution.

So how long is a moment?

Well it’s a hard question to answer.

Essentially a moment comes in three parts – a beginning, middle and an end. If you want to stay in the moment you need to stay in the middle, which can be as long as you want it to be. The beginning and the end are all about what you need to do to come into and out of the present. In realty there is no beginning or end… that is why it is sometimes called the Eternal NOW.

Sorry it’s confusing….

It gets even more confusing when you realise that a moment cannot be measured, and even though we say things like, ‘just give me a moment’, it has nothing to do with time as we know it. However, even though we can’t measure it we can experience it. The key is to try to remember being in the moment and that’s hard because we are constantly forgetting.  One of best ways is of course to practice yoga. If you don’t its often a good idea to learn to stop and experience. Tell yourself to, ‘BE HERE NOW’ as often as you can, for example as you start something new, walking and sitting, watching the television. Take part in what’s happening, fully. It’s a simple as that….

In Island, Aldous Huxley’s last novel (1961) he creates a utopia Island called Palla based on deep yogic principles. The inhabitants are reminded to stay present because the Mynah birds on the Island have all been trained to constantly repeat, ‘its all about the here & now boys…’

As one of the Island’s heroes says,

“Well… …That’s what you always forget, isn’t it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what’s happening. And that’s the same as not being here and now.

I like the expression, ‘Here and Now’ because it describes an action, an event and a place. That’s the architect in me. The cover of Ram Dass’s book, ‘Be Here, Now’ (1971) features a single chair covered in interconnecting lines in a circle of words, Remember- Be Here Now, in a sort of stylised yogic mandela. The chair is a dead giveaway. It defines an action (remember) or an event, i.e. sitting, (now) and a place in space i.e. the chair (here).


I use it a lot in my architecture and place making work. In fact I feel when I give a talk about place making I am actually talking about yoga. It’s all the same to me. As soon as we learn to be Here & Now, we begin to notice things. We begin to experience ourselves in motion, in flow…. it’s learning, instructing experience which helps us evolve. Huxley goes onto say in Island,

“The more a man knows about himself in relation to every kind of experience, the greater his chance of suddenly, one fine morning, realising who in fact he is…”

And that’s every experience, any experience – not just the 90 minutes we share in our yoga class. In fact its yoga practice at its most highest and fundamental level. The very art of skilful living or in other words the experience of a life lived…. Serious stuff but the essential goal of all yoga.

Yogastah kuru karmani, is the thing. It translates as, ‘established in Being perform Action’.  Being of course, is you as a, conscious mindful entity. Action the stuff that you do in the flow. Both are constant of course. The universe determines action and we can never ever stop being in motion. Even when we are still, we are in action.  Joining, ‘being ‘and ‘doing’ together is yoga. So here is a little exercise to do, which is from my list of, ‘The Yoga of Just about Everything’.

The Yoga of Walking.

When walking down street look up. Don’t stare down. The verb looking is important here and is different from seeing. Looking is a practice intended action. Seeing is also an action but it’s a bit more passive. So learn to look. Engage, with your surroundings, consciously and actively, so that you are here right in their moment inhabiting your body, your space, and your moment. By looking, you can set yourself towards a point of view by which will orientate you both physically and consciously.

So how do we consciously combine doing and being? One way of doing this yoga of walking is to use a simple technique called SET. It will help you remember.

S = Space

Most of us don’t pay attention to what is around us. We are far too wrapped in the ‘fake’ reality our mind is constructing for us. Look up and be aware, feel the street around you, the edges and boundary of the spaces, its colours, sounds and moments. Don’t judge just observe and take it all in. Notice the light, the colours, the sounds the whole vibrancy of what’s around your whether you are in the centre of a city, field, forest, beach etc…

E = Event

Then add to your space perception an awareness of what you are doing. Are you walking, sitting, standing, waiting, or looking or a mixture of either? Again don’t judge. Don’t think this is good, this too noisy, etc just be aware of what you are doing in that space.

T = Time

Then finally add the time. Not so much the time of day but the time of Now. Stay at absolutely present and know that the feeling and awareness of the present is a subject of experiencing without judgment the space and event

So while walking look ahead keep your view on or above up above the horizon line. Don’t stare down at the pavement. This will you will noticeably feel more open, less anxious about yourself and your surroundings. You will feel more open, more engaged with the world and what your doing in it at that moment. Then look as far further as you can as far the street you’re in allows you toll look. Lit might be a building at the end of the street, a sign, some trees or perhaps the open sky. Engage with the distant pointy for as long as you can without losing concentration as you move down the street. Just be aware of that distant point. When another distant point comes into view then focus on that…. why do we do it? Well it’s a way of positioning ourselves in space, in a place in a moment.

You can use SET as a way of Engage with space, the event the moment, which will bring right into the still point where we know happiness lives. Imagine that, being able to find happiness while walking along Deansgate?