This is one of those beautiful winter days when the temperature has hardly risen above zero but the skies are bright blue and the light is quite stunning. Days like this remind me not to waste a moment, to go out and make the most of it which is exactly what I did as I downed tools earlier (or rather switched off the computer) and pulled on my wellies to go out and get some fresh air. I never fail to be in awe of this beautiful countryside that we are lucky enough to live in and I am reminded of how little time out it takes to bring me back to the present and shift my perspective. It is all too easy to get caught up in the endless list of jobs to do, especially when you run your own business, but the reality is that there will always be jobs on the ‘to do list’, maybe sometimes more than others, but they usually will all get done and we have a choice as to how we perceive being busy. Being able to be present makes us much more effective, whatever we are doing.
On the subject of ‘to do lists’, I had intended to write a little blog post at the beginning of January to wish everyone a Happy 2015 but January seems to have flown by so far, with so much going on this month at our little yoga space. Likewise, the other important items on the list for this month, such as making marmalade and planting this years garlic and broad beans in the vegetable garden are still to be done, although there is a large box of Seville oranges currently sat on the kitchen table in readiness for this weekends marathon marmalade making session …. life doesn’t get much better!
We started the new year off beautifully with a retreat held by an old friend of ours, Claudia Jones, who runs the Wellness Source. Claudia has recently moved back to the UK after 10 years running retreat centres in Bali and Thailand before that. The day was a perfect mix of gentle Yoga, breathing techniques and discussions about wellness in general, with a particular focus on nutrition. It is so important to look after ourselves properly .. that’s a big part of why I get on a yoga mat each day. But looking after ourselves is about so much more that just that. It is how we take care of our own bodies and emotional well being, but also our relationships, being aware of the food we eat and where is comes from (hence the garlic and broad bean planting on my list) but also beyond that, and most importantly, how we take care of our planet and our community. Like many of us I feel quite passionately about these last two things. We are really lucky to have a large vegetable garden at home in which we can grow our own food but you don’t need lots of space and if we all cared for our planet responsibly it could feed us all adequately. As part of our second retreat day here at the Space, led by the lovely Juliette Oliver of Orckid Yoga, we were treated to an afternoon seashore walk and guided ‘forage’ from ‘Fore/adventure’, who run fantastic courses here in Studland and are as passionate about this local landscape as I am. It was a truly informative and enjoyable few hours , learning how to identify edible wild plants such as wild chives and sea beet, not to mention the numerous varieties of edible seaweed. Juliettes’ retreat day was then finished off perfectly as we all returned from the afternoon’s forage to be treated to a ‘Sound bath’ from the amazing Bhanu. Incredible!
As for looking after our community, this is for me what yoga is really all about. It has been wonderful meeting so many new people over these last few months since we opened our doors and our own little yoga community here has been growing steadily. It is really fantastic seeing how people connect with one another and form friendships that go beyond practicing each day on a yoga mat next to one another. After our weekly yoga for pregnancy classes the mum’s to be often hang out for a bit after the class and chat over tea and cake. These friendships are so important … it is what makes us feel connected, that we ‘belong’ and are supported by our community. These connections extend beyond us and into our wider social network. We were really inspired last October when Eddie Stern came to Dorset to teach a three day workshop here and he spoke at length about the work he has done in New York City with the ‘Urban Yogis’ project over the last few years. It was such positive story that we got talking to him a little more at length afterwards, along with my great friend Scott Johnson of Stillpoint Yoga London, and we decided that Scott and I would get involved in starting an ‘Urban Yogis UK’ project here. We will be starting to work with young people through this project over the coming year and I will be posting up more information about this in the next few weeks.
I personally feel really blessed to belong to such an amazing community of people sharing yoga, not just the lovely teachers that we are lucky enough to have here at the Space but throughout Dorset and the UK. My fellow practitioners and teachers that I’ve known for some years now since we all trained with John Scott and Lucy Crawford, feel like a big family and it is fantastic when we get to see each other at events or workshops such as at the beginning of January when Stillpoint Yoga London hosted their annual fundraising event in memory of their founder and our beautiful friend Ozge. It was such a special day, with two led classes from John Scott, Joey Miles and Scott Johnson and so many people from the yoga community there to support them. It was also a real pleasure last week to spend five days with a group of our local teachers when Brian Cooper came to Dorset to teach a workshop. The group worked so hard as they explored different adjustment techniques and thai massage, much of which involved working in groups and sharing information. It was a lovely reminder that we are all students first and foremost and there is always so much to learn.
Now, where did I put those marmalade jars …