Yoga, cultural appropriation and appreciation

Painting of yoga asana Kukkutasana in Persian manuscript Bahr al-hayat c. 1602

Although cultural appropriation is not new, the term itself has become used in the last 40 years of so, and particularly in the last 5-10 years, within a variety of settings including yoga. As a white, Western, middle-class woman of many privileges (check yours here) who is appalled by repression, oppression, racism and sexim and … Continue reading Yoga, cultural appropriation and appreciation

Women, yoga history and new understandings

Stone statue of woman goddess

We probably think we know what the history of women in yoga is. My assumptions were that yoga was originally, and until about 100+ years ago, a male-dominated (or even male only) tradition. This is what most books and articles say. However, recent research on the history of yoga e.g. Norman Sjoman's book on the … Continue reading Women, yoga history and new understandings

Yoni Shakti – a book review

Image of the book cover

This is a huge book. Huge in size, huge in scope, and huge in terms of the content. My review here will not do justice to all c.650 pages of Yoni Shakti: a woman's guide to power and freedom through yoga and tantra. Having finished reading it almost a year ago, in my mind it … Continue reading Yoni Shakti – a book review

Samadhi – an end or the beginning?

In the monthly journey through Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, we have now arrived at the final limb/stage: samadhi. The previous two limbs (dhyana and dharana), have taken us on the journey of focusing the mind and meditating, and now the mind is suitably prepared for samadhi, which is interpreted as full absorption of the self. The … Continue reading Samadhi – an end or the beginning?

A one-track mind, or, dhyana

Meditation. Lots of people have heard of it, many may think they "can't do it", others may not know what its benefits are, and quite a few probably think it sounds all bit strange and isn't for them. We have reached the seventh limb of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and after practising how to concentrate (see … Continue reading A one-track mind, or, dhyana

New beginnings: new to yoga?

September is often a month of new beginnings: maybe going to school for the first time, or college, or university. Even if you're no longer involved with the education system in the UK, September still feels like a new start. Maybe the end of summer and the autumnal feel in the air makes people remember … Continue reading New beginnings: new to yoga?

Dharana: training the brain to concentrate

In my monthly look at  Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga, we're drawing towards the last few now. The three remaining are internally-focused and build towards what can be seen as the ultimate goal of yoga. These three are: dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption, union). This month I will concentrate (pun intended) on dharana. Dharana (pronunciation guide) … Continue reading Dharana: training the brain to concentrate

Pratyahara – the forgotten element of yoga?

Pratyahara is the fifth limb in Patanjali's ashtanga system. It can be loosely translated* as 'withdrawal of the senses' or more fully as 'pratyahara is withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer [self]' (Sutra 2:54; Iyengar, 2002 p.168). In some ways it can … Continue reading Pratyahara – the forgotten element of yoga?

It’s all about the breath

Continuing the monthly look at the eight limbs of yoga as outlined in Patanjali's yoga sutras, we come to the fourth limb: pranayama, or to over-simplify, breathing. One person asked me why people have to be taught how to breathe. That's not necessarily what pranayama is. Pranayama is composed of two words: prana (breath, life … Continue reading It’s all about the breath