According to St Augustine (a very wise man), 'It is better to need less than to have more.' Gandhi (another very wise man) echoed this sentiment when he said, 'There is enough in the world for everyone's need; there is not enough for everyone's greed.' In other words by renouncing things you are freer to enjoy life. But it's difficult when society wants us to be consumers. We are led to believe it is the only way for wealth to be created. But increasingly the wealth is for the privileged few. The rest of us end up with credit card debt, wardrobes full of unworn clothes, fat bodies, a drink habit. The path of yoga involves controlling desires and reducing wants. This means deciding what you want out of life - not what the supermarkets, car dealers, holiday companies, mobile phone companies, betting companies make us believe.
The new year is always the time we want to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately it often follows a period of over indulgence. So, be gentle with yourself. Be patient. Attending your first yoga class can be the first step into a whole new world. Do a little research into what yoga has to offer. And do get in touch if you have any questions. The trick is to keep going once you have taken that first step.
This year, as well as my usual Glasgow Life classes, I am teaching at the Phoenix Centre in Easterhouse with YoGlasgow! Our aim is to transform Glasgow into a yoga city.
And if you live in Anderston or nearby, come along to the Pyramid on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 9.15 to 10.15. This is a wonderful opportunity to weave yoga into the fabric of your week and community.
The new YogaScotland magazine is now out. Priced at only £3 it offers interesting articles, information and upcoming yoga events in Scotland. I will bring a few to sell at my classes over the next week or so.
Wherever I look, I see anxiety bubbling below the surface of society. The first way to tackle it is in action. Walking and deep breathing are first steps. Then it's time to tackle the mind. Adopt a mantram. Don't allow anxiety to seep into the nooks and crannies of your brain and take up residence.
I was looking through my address book today (yes, it is the Christmas card season) and found this quote from one of my dad's books - Prophet of a New Hindu Age. How true the words are.
'The stable, peaceful mind is the best cave. And so one can have inner stability and serenity while going out to perform the services of the world.'
For 2019, why not adopt your own personal mantram and start excavating your own personal cave by training your mind to be stable and peaceful. Once you have excavated it, no one can take it away.
That's our first week already over. What's so nice about community yoga is that people introduce themselves and we find out a little about their lives.
Do come along and join us next week. It is 9.15 to 10.15 on Tuesday and Friday. £2 per class or £3 for the week. If you want to find out a bit more, just text or call me on 0794 6294658.
The Pyramid is now a community centre in the heart of Anderston and they are keen to engage with the local residents.
On Tuesday and Fridays in the run up to Christmas I am teaching morning yoga classes from 9.15 to 10.15. The cost is £2 per class or £3 for both classes. Six classes for under a tenner can't be bad!
If you are new to yoga, come along and find out how yoga can help
The Pyramid, 759 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8DS. If you have any questions, contact me through the website, or text me on 0794 6294658.
Pranayama is the breathing side of yoga. It is a very important aspect and one that is probably not taught as much as it should be. Especially given how much anxiety seems to be around. Calling it breathing is not quite accurate as it includes the circulation of prana (energy or life force) throughout the body.
Here is how BKS Iyengar describes it in his Light on Pranayama:
Pranayama is a conscious prolongation of inhalation, retention and exhalation.
Inhalation is the act of receiving the primeval energy in the form of breath.
Retention is when the breath is held in order to savour that energy.
In exhalation all thoughts and emotions are emptied with the breath. Imagine being able to let go of all your anxiety in the out-breath.
The practice of Pranayama develops a steady mind, strong will-power and sound judgement.
Not bad for something we all get for free! Make sure you make your lungs strong and elastic to receive the gift of air.
Although going to a class is great, there are many ways to start your yoga journey. Mine started with Richard Hittleman's Yoga 28 Day Plan. You can buy a secondhand copy. I followed it when I was 17 years old and I found it a great introduction. Not quite free but well worth investigating.
Other people swear by Yoga with Adriene. She is a very engaging accessible teacher and has free courses you can follow on YouTube. Again, they are 30 days. You find that if you stick with something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. Believe me, yoga is a great habit!
Ekhart Yoga is also an invaluable resource. The teaching of poses is very precise so you get a good understanding of what you are meant to do. Again, you can follow for free.
But don't just watch, try to faithfully follow a 30-day program. It can transform your life and give you a good basis to go out and sample classes.
Frighteningly, there are 41 days until Christmas. But look on the bright side. That's plenty of time to carry out a 30-day course. Just imagine how great you will feel going into 2019!
You hear it all the time. 'Do exercise.' 'Keep mobile.' 'Get off the bus one stop earlier.' Of course you know it is good for you, but do you know exactly why?
One reason is that white blood cells (the ones that fight infection) are carried around the body in the lymphatic system. Unlike the blood system where blood is pumped around your body by the heart, the lymph system uses the movement of your body to push lymph fluid around. This is why it is so important to remain active. It is also why people who are confined to bed often find it much harder to fight infections.
Being active doesn't have to be running marathons. Walking is pretty good, as is keeping limbs, hands and feet moving. Whether you move them in bed, on a chair or in the bath, doesn't matter. Just think of those happy white blood cells.
People think you have to be very bendy and thin to practise yoga. It seems to be what is presented on the internet. But yoga is for everyone, you just need to make sure that you find the right class. Choosing one that doesn't suit you can put you off for life. I have added a page on the website that gives a round up of all the different types of yoga that seem to be on offer.
Teachers usually put their contact details on classes (or are on facebook). It is worth getting in touch in advance to check what type of class they teach.
After lake to lake sunshine in Italy, I am back in Glasgow. Many thanks to Claire Rodgers and Julian Hearne who covered my Glasgow Club classes.
As the mornings are getting a little darker, the sunrise yoga is starting at 7am next Tuesday (21 August). I look forward to seeing any early risers in Kelvingrove Park (next to the skate park).
Caroline practises and teaches yoga in Glasgow Scotland and runs The Publishing Cupboard. She is the creator of the Nod off Series (where yoga meets grammar learning). If you want to get to grips with French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese grammar, in a pain-free yogic way, visit www.nodoff.co.uk