Category Archives: Kindness

Gosh – I’m Liebstering it …thanks to fortheintolerants

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liebster-award-1A very english yogi has been nominated for the Liebster award by the incomparable ‘for the Intolerants – http://fortheintolerants.com – 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

liebster-award

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

(1) http://pumpsandiron.com/  –   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) http://metalyoga.wordpress.com/about/ – 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) http://alisonhinksyoga.wordpress.com/  – 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) http://jonwatersauthor.com/  – 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) http://simplestuffblog.wordpress.com/ – 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) http://www.on-hands.com/  – 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) http://stateofgrateful.wordpress.com/ – 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) http://www.rachelcama.com/ – 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) http://emilyparkinsonperry.com/ – 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) http://www.realmensow.co.uk/ – 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) http://therealhappypoet.wordpress.com/author/thppypoet/  – 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

x

Maybe it’s a game – but kindness counts

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Lancashire Yogi has been playing all sorts of games recently.  Board games, that is, as opposed to any other kind of games.

He has had a bunch of visitors who have all requested games of chess, or backgammon, or cards, or (horror of horrors!) monopoly. 

He has played jenga, twister (a great game for budding yogis!) and snakes and ladders. He was cajoled by a couple of friends to play hide and seek.  And when all else failed he found himself playing battleships. 

It’s been a week of game playing. And it has been fun. And tiring. But it’s also been quite insightful. 

Everyone gathered round and learned the rules. Each game started pleasantly enough.  But as the pace quickened and the urge to ‘win’ grew, there was a tendancy for dirty tricks, aspersions and barbed asides.  Trust quickly went out the window and particularly in monopoly whenever a player nipped to the loo everyone protected their stash of winnings and properties.  The competitive spirit was loud and clear in Lancashire Yogi’s house last week.  A couple of Lancashire Yogis friends got a bit too heated and Lancashire Yogi took them outside to do some yogic breathing and a couple of downward facing dogs. Yogic breathing changed the state to say the least.  But the thing that broke the spell of the competitive spirit and nascent aggresssion though, was when Kaiser disappeared into the kitchen and returned with huge steaming mugs of tea and a freshly baked carrot cake. He cut pieces for everyone and handed them out with the tea.

At some point in one of the games, Kaiser had disappeared into the kitchen and prepared a delicious carrot cake, shoved it in the oven and returned to the game while waiting for it to bake. When he knew it was ready, he hooked it out the oven and brought it to us, freshly baked, with delicious mugs of tea.   Marion wanted to know why he did it, “Oh I just figured that sooner or later we would want some tea and cake and figured I could make it while the game was going on. Turned out ok, don’t you think?” he explained.   This was an act of kindness and it transformed the game. Infact, with cake and mugs in hand,  the game became something fun, and light hearted, inclusive and interesting.

Lancashire Yogi has been thinking about this a lot.  He likes to think of life as a game. A glorious game where one can have fun,  find oneself, make connections with others, and through the play of the game come to new insights that propel us forwards.  What has worried Lancashire Yogi about this is the competitive element and the desire to win that is so pervasive in games.  In life we see so much of the competitive winning element that it is hard not associate life with this, if we try to see life as a game. However Kaiser’s behaviour made Lancashire Yogi realise that you can treat life as a game, just so long as you  make an effort at and don’t loose sight of our common humanity and kindness.  The Dalai Lama has said  “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness”.  Lancashire Yogi likes this a lot. You cannot go too far wrong with efforts of kindness to others and other sentient beings, and indeed, you can still enjoy the game of life let alone the board games we can play in life.

True happiness lies this way….(for and from Esme, with love)

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Lancashire Yogi has been away on one his jaunts. At this time of year he likes to travel around the country and catch up with old friends, and make new ones.  He hoped to bump into an old friend, the Druid, when he was travelling this time, but he didn’t.  He knows that the Druid will come into his life when he is most needed, so he wasn’t too disappointed.  This trip though, Lancashire Yogi bumped into a lass who seemed to be very switched on. Lancashire Yogi was practising some yoga asanas on a beach somewhere in Wales and this lass came by and joined in.  There is nothing like doing sun salutation (surya namaskar) on a sandy beach, with the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.  Her name was Esme. She was well-established in yoga and after a good practice, we sat down and traded stories. Esme has lived quite a life. She grew up in Doncaster, the daughter of a miner and tough no-nonsense mother.  She loved dance and became a ballet dancer.  When she had reached the world of shows and reviews in London and Paris and New York, she became increasingly disconnected from it. She left that world when she felt she was being used and the world was getting too fixated on money and image.  She retreated to Wales.  She practices yoga.  She says that she was feeling depressed and anxious and then one day when she told her doctor she wanted to do something to help herself, and her doctor suggested she try yoga or tai chi.  She came across a yoga class and thought she would give it a go. She says that the yoga postures seemed strange at first, but after a few weeks, she felt better in herself.  She had a thoughtful teacher who passed on some books – the bhagavad gita and patanjali’s yoga sutras.  She became transfixed by what she learned.  Soon after she took up walking, and then began to practice a mantra meditation as she walked. She liked the idea that you could meditate just by repeating some lovely words. She chose “I am a beautiful expression of the divine” but you can find something online easily and the buddhists and hindus have some great mantras – ‘om mani padme hung’ – is a beautiful and well established mantra.  The Beatles sang “all you need is love”, the Hare Krishnas say “hare krishna, hare krishna”. A good positive song can do the trick too. It just pegs down your monkey mind while you are walking if you have a repeated phrase or song.

Esme and I walked along the beach. Lancashire Yogi loves life and loves people and their journeys.  He is always meeting exceptional people.  Always learning stuff from whoever he meets.  In his yoga classes in Burnley and Ribble Valley and on the Wirral, Lancashire Yogi has met exceptional individuals who he is privileged to have connected with. What a life to have this – and its not just Lancashire Yogi; if you think about it – we are meeting amazing people all the time because we are meeting people all the time – and they are all amazing. 

Esme was no exception.  She still dances, and we danced around the beach. A couple of dogs joined in.  We walked along the beach and up the dunes. We had a cuppa in a cafe on the hills above the beach. A real greasy spoon.  But like all good traditional english and welsh greasy spoons – the tea was good. And Esme told me that she had some principles which she tried to live her life. She said they seem to work for her. I could relate to many of them. She asked me to share her principles with anyone and everyone. So, here they are: the world according to Esme, sent, as she would say, with love from her world to yours.

I hope you find them interesting and helpful. She says they are simple  and don’t cost much to do, and as Esme says, they seem to open up your life and make it feel worthwhile and fun. Lancashire Yogi is no doctor but Esme said they can help your physical and mental health. Who knows? But they are so gentle and require such little effort – why not give them a go?

Esme’s Principles

1. Be grateful for something each day. 

2. Aim to achieve something or anything, each day.

3. Try to practice a little yoga or some gentle stretches at the least each day.

4. Try to walk for at least twenty minutes each day and try not to think of anything other than what you are seeing on the walk or say a mantra as you walk.

5. Try to treat everyone and every creature you meet with kindness and compassion. Try to be, without too much surrender, on good terms with everyone.

6. Have some fun, and try to have a laugh, but not at the expense of others.

7. Be curious about anything, but never nosey.

8. Try to live in the moment, and live each moment as fully and as ethically as you can in the realisation that it could be your last.

9. Try to learn something new about something or someone, even yourself.

10. Be kind to yourself, which means looking after your body through healthy eating and drinking, getting enough sleep and exercise; and looking after your mind by not criticising yourself or being negative about yourself.

11. Do something for someone or a creature

12. Try to be hopeful and optimistic – as the song goes “everything is gonna be alright”.

I enjoyed meeting Esme and wish her well for the future. She says we’ll definately be bumping into each other again.  And while Lancashire Yogi was sad to say farewell to her, he was grateful for her ideas. 

Today Lancashire Yogi was back in class with the ever-brilliant Kit Hartley.  Kit teaches in Burnley – at the Inn on the Wharf on Monday’s at 6pm, and on a wednesday in Colne. Kit can be contacted on 07854 207701 or emailed at m.j.c.hartley@btinternet.com. Today Kit was on superb form her instruction just gets better and better and you are guaranteed a very insightful and powerful lesson in yoga asana from her.  If you are an experienced yoga practitioner – you will discover more depths to the asana too.  As Frank Sinatra said, “It’s very nice to go trav’ling …..but it’s so much nicer Yes, it’s so much nicer to come home”

Namaste

Lancashire Yogi reads St Francis of Assisi

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St Francis of Assisi must have been living the dharma. He was certainly to all intents and purposes living a deep and profound life, with a good heart. He was from a wealthy background, and lived a bit of a worldy life but became disillusioned with it and took the path that he was ultimately sainted for.  What Lancashire Yogi particularly likes about St Francis of Assisi is that he loved nature, and all living creatives as much as humanity.  He perhaps, saw the circle of life and how we are all interconnected.  Legend suggests that he preached to the birds and persuaded a ravenous wolf to stop attacking some villagers if they in turn, agreed to feed the wolf, which they did.  His language depicts a world and a life that is interconnected and related.  He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,” and in his “Canticle of the Creatures”  he refers to the Sun as “Brother Sun” and the moon as “Sister Moon”. Lancashire Yogi loves this inclusive view of an interconnected world. 

One of the loveliest pieces of writing that Lancashire Yogi meditates on (amongst many) is the prayer of Saint Francis.  Lancashire Yogi appreciates that the organised traditions and religions have a place in life and have contributed a wealth of experience, knowledge and insight to our human experience, as well as being a force for good – mainly through the lives, work and contributions of such figures as Saint Francis. 

The prayer goes like this:

Lord, make me an instrument of they peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console,

To be understood as to understand.

To be loved, as to to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

It is in dying to our self that we are born to eternal life.

There are some lovely sentiments in this prayer, and Lancashire Yogi likes to contemplate and meditate on it. What Lancashire Yogi particularly likes about it is an almost karmic response to the challenges of everyday life and it certainly is food for thought…

Namaste

x

all the little creatures…

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Lancashire Yogi has been a vegetarian – pretty close to a vegan for thirty-five years. He turned vegetarian on a spring day many many moons ago. He was walking past a field of sheep and lambs, and the air was full of happy bleating.  Lambs were scampering across the field and on one tree stump, three lambs were playing a game where one would jump off, and the others would move along, to allow the first one to join them again on the stump. They did this for a long time. A crow circled above, and a couple of magpies swooped down on the road to forage.  In the distance Lancashire Yogi heard a dog barking, and the chime of the village clock. Lancashire Yogi, stood and watched the lambs playing, and in that moment, he realised that there is an underlying unity to life and that this interconnectedness was as real in this moment as it is in any other moment.  He resolved to stop eating animals and to become a vegetarian or a vegan.  He has stayed true to this resolution for thirty five years.  In many ways it has been a constant backdrop to his life – people asking him why he doesnt eat “meat”; he answers that he doesnt eat anything that has been killed expressly for the purpose of human consumption.  Over time Lancashire Yogi has realised that this is part of his yoga practice. It is ahimsa – not killing.  As he grew up into this life of vegetarianism, he remembers some wonderful moments.  He read a lovely interview with the Hare Krishna leader  Srila Prabhupada where he was challenging a christian leader as to why he ate meat on the basis of the christian commandment being ‘thou shalt not kill’.  He helped some lovely compassionate organisations in their protection of animals. He got to meet some animal rights extremists who he ran away from because they were advocating violence.  He read the beautifully clear and concise book by the ethicist Peter Singer – Animal Liberation.  At times in all of this he must have been intolerable to some people because he was quite vociferous about how important it was not to eat meat.  He made a point of  avoiding intimate relations with women who were meat eaters and got into scraps with those who couldn’t understand the rationale for meat eating.  He must have been a ridiculous bore over the meal table many times.  Over time he became less dogmatic about other people’s positions, and perhaps more accepting that this is a big move for many people. As his yoga practice deepened, he wondered ‘can you practice yoga, and be a meat eater?’ and he realises that it is entirely possible to practice yoga and be a meat eater. Just as it is possible for a christian to be a meat eater inspite of what Sri Prabhupada said to the cleric in the aforementioned interview.  If however one views yoga as part of a whole package of practices – then there is probably (to use a gambling term) an accumulator effect.  It is only Lancashire Yogi’s guess work here, but it goes something like this : asana+chanting = some good karma, while asana+chanting+vegetarianism+being kind = a whole lot more good karma. If one professes to be kind or compassionate – how does this sit with a decision to eat meat?  Lancashire Yogi feels that this represents an uneasy challenge: he wouldnt say that you cant be kind if you are a meat eater because clearly there is a lot of kindness and compassion from people who eat meat or animals.  It’s probably that old accumulator effect in operation again.   Lancashire Yogi is chuckling to himself because he is sure its not really like that – but on the other hand – there is a growing health and scientific evidence base that vegetarianism, like stretching (asana) is good for you. There seems to be a growing consensus that  eating too much meat can actually make you ill, suffer from long term health problems.  So from a purely enlighted self interest point of view – its probably a good thing to accumulate these practices – be kind and compassionate – and be a vegetarian….

In one of Lancashire Yogis meditations – he uses the prayer of St Francis of Assisi.  It goes like this:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Its a lovely prayer and works well within the tradition that Lancashire Yogi follows.  What was interesting about St Francis of Assisi was that he loved nature and animals. I guess you could say that he saw the underlying unity of life and our interconnectedness with everything around us.  Lancashire Yogi took some friends for a walk a few days ago and saw some lambs.  They scampered towards us and sniffed the air around us. One friend said “they’re coming close to us because they think its safe – they’re probably aware that you’re a vegetarian Lancashire Yogi” – we all laughed at this, but if the work of people like the scientist Rupert Sheldrake and his work on morphic resonance is to be believed – they probably were aware at some level that they were in the company of non meat eaters.  Who knows?  What is beautiful about St Francis’s love of animals is that he saw them as part of his world and life, and Lancashire Yogi sees them like this.  We share the planet, the air, and all the other resources of the world with the animals and the least we can do is respect their place in life and avoid violence towards them, or sanctioning others to committ violence and kill them on our behalf.

Lancashire Yogi thinks there is a karmic reason to do this, as much as a health reason.  However he has learned over time that it is best that you come to your own mind about all of this. Look at the evidence for health, consider your sense of connectedness to other sentient beings and consider whether you need to eat them.  The Vegetarian Society of Great Britain is a good starting place if you are thinking about becoming vegetarian. But there are also plenty of alternatives to meat nowadays, and they are relatively cheap and readily available in all the usual stores.  It is also certainly much easier to reduce your meat intake, and then switch to vegetarianism. 

Every so often when Lancashire Yogi feeds his furry friends, they occasionally look at him and one eye blinks like a wink. Lancashire Yogi thinks this is amusing and although he could be accused of anthropomorphism – he can’t help but think that the wink is the furry friend saying “thanks… from all the little creatures”.

Namaste.

sometimes yoga is not ‘doing yoga’

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Its been an interesting day for me. I had a few moments and experiences when I was provoked and could have become angry.  As I am currently reading ‘How Yoga Works’ by Geshe Michael Roach I am trying out the suggested practices and trying to make sense of them in my daily life. Roach suggests (and to be fair he says that the mahayana buddhists suggest) that one should practice loving kindness and compassion.  Its easy to do this to your loved ones, its hard to practice this with work colleagues, and others, but its even harder to practice it with those who have created difficult, or challenging situations that are likely to make you angry, or upset or depressed.  He suggests that through the practice of emptiness you can transform these situations into neutral, objective  situations which underline the reality that what you are experiencing (the boss shouting at you, the work colleague undermining you, the friend letting you down) is a manifestation of your karma and that at some point in the past you may have planted a seed which has sprouted to create the reality of that shouting boss, or undermining work colleague, or friend letting you down.  The natural response, he says, is to shout back (at the boss), to ‘get one back’ on the undermining colleague, and to cold shoulder the friend who let you down.  Trouble is that all you are doing is creating more such karma and exascerbating the problem: the cycle is perpetuated.  He and others suggest that you should try to experience these situations as ’empty’ or ‘neutral’ and not respond as you would naturally respond: but respond in a loving, compassionate and understanding way.  There are a number of tricks to this: and there is a whole literature to support this approach – but it is very hard – we are all so conditioned to ‘be’ or respond in a certain way: and responding with love is not the way.  Trying it does seem to change the dynamic of a situation – and actually lends itself to a more positive, solution focussed and blame and guilt-free way of being.  When we talk about ‘yoga’ we tend to think of it as asanas (postures); but Patanjali talks about ‘ashtanga’ yoga – which is the 8 limbs of yoga – i guess the loving compassionate kindness response fits into one those limbs – yama or niyama – right living and thinking.  Anyhow yoga is not ‘doing yoga’ – but  living all of the elements of ashtanga yoga.  So you can say that if you are seeking to respond to a difficult situation with compassion and kindness – and understanding – you are practicing yoga.  After all, according to many gurus – yoga means ‘union’ and what can be more unifying than to seek to understand and respond with love.  Namaste