Author Archives: englishyogi

Happy when others are happy, sad when others are sad


Over the last couple of days, a very english yogi has been working on a practice which is simple but very, very challenging.

He is happy when others are happy, and sad when others are sad.

Sounds very easy?

In principle it is obvious.  At first glance it is easy. Your husband, or wife, or child or parent – or even your friend or work colleague tells you that they have received some good news and they are overjoyed. It could be anything – a job, some money, a clear medical test, a successful exam result etc.  They’re your friend/husband/wife/child etc. So it’s almost by default that you are going to be happy for them. And the opposite is true. If they have some sad news or are upset. It’s again, almost by default that you are going to be upset or sad with them.

Now: try it with people you don’t know, or perhaps you don’t care about, or aren’t close to. 

Take it a step further: try it with people who cause you difficulty, who’s actions seem geared to make you angry or upset.  Try it with anyone who you think is your competitor or rival. Try it with the boss. Try it with the cleaner.

The ‘yogi found an interesting thing. The competitive world seems to encourage us to thrill in others misfortune and get annoyed with other peoples’ success and happiness.  Seems like the whole of news on TV, in the press and on the radio (and the web..) is geared around to thrill in others’ misfortune and get jealous of others’ success and happiness.  Gossip in the office, in the pub, or on the street hinges on the intrigue of others misfortunes and struggles and to query and question others’ success and happiness. It seems to the ‘yogi that this route is a crazy making route: a downward spiral.

To shift the spiral upwards why not try being happy when others are happy; and sad when they are sad.Everyone.


Good luck.

The value of being ‘curious’


Today has been a delightful day for a very english yogi. Life threw him the opportunity to practice kindness and compassion. And curiosity was at the heart of this.

Kindness because he had the opportunity to help a number of people. Nothing too big, just simply turning up and welcoming people to a new home and showing them round, and giving them information to make their life easier.  I really enjoyed the day for this. I think some of them did too. Who knows where it will lead and or how it will evolve – but I am grateful to life for giving me the opportunity to help them.  Behind this was a curiosity about the people who turned up: who are they?  where have they come from? what makes them tick?  how can I help them? And curiosity led to new connections being made and people feeling welcomed.

Compassion because during the day, two old pals of the ‘yogi needed advice. They were arguing and spoiling to fight with each other. Language became terse and agressive. They came to the ‘yogi for him to side with either of them. They wanted advice. They wanted some sort of judgement. The ‘yogi isnt great on giving advice….the yogi doesnt like the thought of being a judge.  And he certainly doesn’t feel as if he can comment on how others should live their lives.  His Pals were mired in a quandry and some might say a mess of their own making.  The ‘yogi spent a fair bit of time listening to them. What was clear is that nothing is ever really straight forward or clear.  It would be wrong to share their argument and their issues.  But the yogi found that starting from a position of love, respect and compassion seems to be much more straight forward than responding with judgement, animosity, criticism or ridicule. So we make mistakes. But it’s not to far a leap from a mistake to learning and wisdom. So lets make mistakes and lets learn from them. The interesting thing about this experience is that if we simply attend without judgement and hold to a sense that people make the right decisions for them at the time – there is a neutral logic in all of this and it is simply ridiculous to be critical.

Indeeed curious is the more hopeful position and from ‘curious’ springs love and respect for other peoples’ process; and from there – compassion. With this foundation, it all makes sense. And things can move forward, as they did. This was because the ‘yogi’s curiosity about his Pals’ arguements and issues led to a growing curiosity between them. Why does X behave like that? What does Y really mean when she says that? When you get below the surface you find a world altogether more richer and stranger. And when you begin to make sense of this world,  you know you are really begining to understand the situation. And curiousity – a gentle compassionate probing – leads to a richer, fuller understanding and new insights. Which is what happened today – for me and my two Pals. Somehow we are all the more knowledgeable and understanding as a result. No one got hurt nor hindered and the friendship is stronger I am sure, as a result.

The culture that the Yogi lives in,  has this view that curiosity isnt necessarily a good thing. It’s summed up in the phrase “curiosity killed the cat”.  Curiosity is associated with nosiness and intrusive behaviour. But if curiosity is driven by the principles of compassion, respect and love – it can be a valuable perspective.

I’m curious : what do you think?





The aim of yoga is to cease the movement or turning of the mind as Patanjali suggests in the 2nd sutra of his Yoga Sutras. So if through yoga asana, meditation and pranayama the practitioner achieves this cessation of mental fluctuation – what then?

The stillness of the mind quite possibly creates the conditions for equanimity. A very english yogi likes this word. It means composure and evenness of temper regardless of the situation.

This state of being is perfectly symbolised in a quote that the ‘yogi heard recently. He thinks it’s Tibetan. It goes like this:

“If something is broken, why worry if it can be fixed? If something is broken and it can’t be fixed, why worry?”

and just the other day, the Yogi was re-reading a well known poem by Kipling which seems to sum up this sense of equanimity:

If by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!

Equanimity comes from yoga practice – the more you get on the mat and practice asana; the more your cittas stop vritting and the more likely you are to have a sense of equanimity.

Life throws us plenty of challenges to this. You walk in to your office and your work mates are arguing, your boss is shouting at you, your car broke down, another driver cut you up, you didnt get the job you had placed all you energy and hope for. There are so many scenarios in the play of life that one is tempted to think that these things are thrown into your path to test your much treasured and worked for equanimity. Much treasured because it is hard in this world to achieve this; and possibly the only way to get this is to work hard, turning up on the mat practicising asana and living yoga off the mat as much as possible.

A very english yogi knows that Kipling is a bit dated, and recognises that it’s written from a father to a son – but he thinks that it has resonance over the years and across generations and gender.

Here’s to your equanimity!

Procastination Buster


Here’s a quick tip.

Stand up, walk over to  your mat, unroll it, step onto it, lay down in srivasana. Breathe.

Consider what asana your body and your mind feels drawn to.

Do it.

See where it leads you.

Gosh – I’m Liebstering it …thanks to fortheintolerants


liebster-award-1A very english yogi has been nominated for the Liebster award by the incomparable ‘for the Intolerants – – so the yogi says “namaste” and thank you with good vibes to her and now picks up the baton.

Here’s what this is all about.

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have less than a certain number of followers. “Liebster” is German for “dearest” or “favorite” and the award is a way of giving a shout out to some of the bloggers you enjoy following, forging new relationships, enhancing social networks, and also spreading the travel/fashion/fitness/food/humanitarian/photographic/poetry, yoga love. The rules for the Liebster are:

  • When you receive the award, post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other bloggers (make sure to tell them you nominated them) and ask them 11 questions.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the blogger who nominated you!
  • But you need to mention whoever nominated you in your post when/if you respond to this award.
  • Try to aim for bloggers with 200 followers or less.

Let me start with 11 random very english yogi facts:

1.  I have been practising yoga for over 30 years: I am sure it has made me a better person and those close to me say that if I don’t practice I am hell to live with…

2. Virabhasana – warrior pose is my favourite asana. I was probably  an archer in a previous life.

3. Raymond Carver, JD Salinger, John Steinbeck, John Irving and  Jack Keruac vie for first place in my pantheon of great writers. For gender balance,  Joan Didion,  Annie Tyler, Doris Lessing and Carsen McCullers are up there too.

4. I wear hats – my fave is a good ol’ english bowler (of course…)

5. My all time yoga hero is Krishnamacharya – without him, yoga in the West and from the 20th Century onwards would have been a less significant influence nor would it have been the force for change it has become – he trained Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois and of course his son Desikachar. Truly the source of modern yoga.

6. If I can’t practice yoga, I’ll walk. If I can’t walk, I’ll swim. If I can’t swim I’ll run. If I can’t do any of these – I’ll sleep or play jenga.

7. I dont understand why Jan Garbarek, Bruce Cockburn, Jackie Leven or Robyn Hitchcock are not as popular as they should be. Check them out on Youtube or Spotify.

8. If I could spend time with anyone it would be with Je Tsongkhapa. Probably in a high class restaurant in Ulam Bator. After a yak ride, and a jamming session with the Dandy Warhols.

9. ‘Groundhog Day’ is one of my favourite films – it’s such a comment on karma and I dont get why people can’t see that, but may be you do. What? You haven’t watched it? You have simply got to watch it if you haven’t.  Bill Murray says it’s his favourite film too.

10. Give me a guitar and I’m happy.

11. I love England and the English – beyond the superficial stereotypes  and the sorry histories (for which I am sorry).  I love the humour, the good nature and the fair play attitude of most people – and I love the countryside – particularly in the Great North (The Lake District, The Dales, Yorkshire and the Peak District – all stunning).  Having said that,  I pretty much like most people and most places….(By the way I escaped the south to live in the Great North….)

For the intolerants now poses her questions:

“While there are plenty of questions to ask such interesting bloggers, I don’t want to encroach on people’s time I’ve broken the rules and whittled the questions down to nine. Not really cheating since in a couple I’m asking multiple questions anyhow”:

1. Why did you start blogging and what have you enjoyed most about your blogging experience?

I started in January 2012,  so I am a relative newbie. I love interacting with others throughout the world who share a common desire to make the world a better place – starting with themselves – I really enjoy learning from others and I get this from blogging – there’s some amazing people out there – what an amazing planet….

2. If blogging isn’t your sole source of income, what is your line of work/career? Do you enjoy what you do?

I am a writer, working for many different clients – the common theme is that I work mainly for those whose ethics are aligned to the principles of yamas and niyamas…

3. My favourite travel destination (to date) is santorini in greece because of the beauty, the culture and the lifestyle. Oh, and the beaches, the sea and the skies.

4. I need a good book to read, kindly recommend two* of your favourites.

(1) Cathedral, by Ray Carver – short stories which include “A Small, Good Thing”, and “Where I’m Calling From” – both stunningly beautiful – pure and perfect writing from a real master.

(2) Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. It’s fun, incisive and heartfelt. Good writing too. It’s a delight to read and I love it each time I read it.

* I would squeeze in ‘Franny and Zooey’ by JD Salinger (for the deeply deep spiritual narratives and love) –  and ‘A prayer for owen meany’ by John Irving if you’d let me. For the same reasons as my first two choices (: – )).

5. Sweet, savory, salty, astringent or pungent? It has to be everything together – a sensuous feast indeed! What sort of meal is that? Must go off and test it out – is it a mezze?

6. What is your response to aging: do you accept it? Fear it? Embrace it? Don’t worry about it? I love it! The older I get, the less I know, and the less I worry about it.   This means I am on a never ending journey of discovery. Which makes life interesting.  I find it easier to be compassionate and more accepting, from the long view of being older and I am intrigued by the possibilities of age.  The trick is to be forever renewing yourself and evolving.  As Mr Robert Zimmerman says : “he not busy being born is a-busy dying”

7. Name one material thing you own that you’d hate to part with. A copy of Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutras’, probably Geshe Michael Roach’s version – which you can find online as a pdf – one of the many great gifts he has given us. A life without Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras…not worth thinking about – it would get those chitti’s vritting for sure…

8. What three characteristics do you strive to incorporate into your life? Compassion, Integrity and Acceptance

9. What is one of your favourite words? OM


Thanks again Intolerant for this nomination.  It has been a great pleasure.   As for the bloggers I nominate – here goes!

(1)  –   this is a fun, clever, and useful fitness blog with some great food tips too. I’m not one for the fashion tips but I do find that it helps me communicate to the women in my life with a degree of sense and style. Try the exercises – some of the series are pretty heavy duty and this blogger makes it look like light work.

 (2) – I love the opening of this blog : “a lifestyle begging for transformation” and we see the fusion of a metal fan with yoga – some great blog entries and some super pictures – I love the energy and the commitment even if I am not majorly a metal fan.

(3)  – wow! I just love the energy of this blog and the writer. It’s informative, sassy and packed full of really neat infographics (Alison has even got me sounding vaguely american with words like ‘sassy’ and ‘really neat’ – she’s that enthusiastic – I bet her class is fantastic!) . And given that my mother is a hinkes with an ‘e’ – I just had to nominate this great site. If ever I am in the ‘States I’ll be heading for Bull City Yoga that’s for sure!

 (4)  – enthusiastic, erudite, a great story to tell and a compelling writer. Jon is a frequenter of the Linkedin yoga groups and most of the stuff he writes and shares is insightful, enthusiastic and full of NY energy.  He describes himself as an aspirant blogger but seriously – I think he simply is a great blogger.

 (5) – this blog is stuch a hotch potch (great phrase, and a nice meal too) of interesting, insightful and fun perspectives that I simply had to chose this. It’s produced by a family doctor whose social media aspirations who knows no bounds and whose ecletic view of life and enthusiasm is infectious. You can follow him on twitter and learn how he’s transforming family medical care with his social media doctor perspective.

(6)  – well, I like handstands. Who doesn’t? This blog provides a packed, fun and interesting take on hand stands and is well presented with lots of useful tips and tricks to get you up and on your hands. It’s supposed to be good for you. I should know – I had a migraine aura a couple of hours ago and did a few inversions and lo and behold that ol’ migraine disappeared – something to do with getting blood to your head I think….

 (7) – a lovely blog this one with good writing    – amazing back story to the inspiration behind this blog – check this out in ‘about’. I am hanging dog tongue at the journey that some fellow planet dwellers have made.  This is an awesome journey, and well presented and I love the gratitude thing – I love that someone has devoted a blog just to this. I do a gratitude journal and it’s good to review the things we can be grateful for. It’s no mistake that ‘grateful’ and ‘grace’ come from the same first three letters (ok I pushed that a bit..) but actually you can find a state of grace through being grateful. And this site helps you realise that.

(8) – wow, a yogi, a musician and some beautiful insights on ahimsa, vegetarianism and isvara prahnidana. I must hear a viola de gamba sooner rather than later.  As a muso, a very english yogi loves music of any kind; and there are strong and true connections between sound and spirit – chanting mantra is something worth doing. Playing music can transform us. This bloggers contribution to this is tantalising and potentially will be immense. Om.

(9) – Emily is a writer and a yogi. You can tell that – she writes from the heart and with a purity that is a delight to read. This very english yogi is in awe of her writing and her insights. A creative journey in yoga and in writing, as well as in parenting and relationships. A heart warming but also thought provoking blog.                                          

(10) – a very english yogi absolutely loves gardening, and particularly vegetables – being a vegetarian the ‘yogi almost sees it as a ‘must do’ simply to keep up with his and the family consumption. A great site, full of information and a good read. It’s a great playful title for a blog – and yes, real men do sow – and sew too….

(11)  – Ok, Ian Rusetear is a pal of mine and I love some of his poems here.  Recently he has found his mojo, and I particularly love the poems posted on here over the last week or two. You can follow him on Twitter and his poems are guaranteed to make you smile.  It’s got to be said that he has a nice turn of phrase and a wicked sense of humour.

And so, the Liebster baton is now passed on to these 11 worthy bloggers – I look forward to reading more from them in the coming year, and years.

I am allowed to ask my nominees 11 questions – so here they are – sorry my questions are multiples so please do your best –  and I look forward to the answers !

1. Who has inspired you in your life – and why ? (3 inspirational people allowed here)

2. What is your all time favourite yoga posture/asana? If not yoga – in what position does your body feel most comfortable.

3. What are your 3 favourite films and why?

4. What is your favourite smell or perfume/after shave?

5. Which three people would you invite to dinner, and why?

6. What is your number one favourite ‘self-help’ or spiritual book and why?

7. If you could cook a vegetarian meal for me, what would it be?

8. If I am to plant a vegetable this year on my veggie patch – what would you wish me to plant, and why?

9. Top 3 favourite songs of all time and why?

10. Which century would you wish to live in, where and what would you be doing?

11. What is your one tip for a happy life?

Thank you,

A very english yogi



Great info gram (A very english yogi loooves Infograms) blog by Alison Hinks at Bull City Yoga, Durham, North Carolina.

A very english yogi loves Alison’s website – its packed full of yoga infograms and her sassy style of bloggin – and he is sure of teaching.

If he’s ever in the area he would go to her class – it sounds great and the blog tells you all about it.

Alison Hinks Yoga


click for pdf…

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