It’s so inspiring to see so many people practising yoga in Ireland these days. When we started practising (less than 15 years ago) you’d never see people walking around with yoga mats under their arms. And if you did they were never, ever men!
Maybe I’m in a bubble but it does seem like, in general, people are taking more of an interest in their physical and mental health than even five years ago. There’s a proliferation of yoga studios and gyms in Dublin and beyond. Just from the window of the shala on Fitzwilliam Street you can see three personal training gyms. It’s great. And who did you know ten years ago who ever went to a personal trainer? Nobody right? Now it’s not uncommon. It makes me think that we’re going in the right direction.
But it also makes me think that maybe our generation is suffering physically and mentally more than previous generations did; that we need the likes of gyms and yoga studios more than ever.
We spend more time indoors, more time sitting down, and less time moving than our parents and certainly, our grandparents did. It used to be that we could get our movement and fresh-air requirements just from our work but those days are gone, never to return. We have become somewhat divorced from our environments and even from our own bodies. We’ve become a shadow of the wild men and women from whom we descended.
We seek out comfort and luxury whenever possible and we’re told by advertising that the more comfortable we are, the more successful and happy we will feel. Yet, as the boom in people running marathons or doing ultra-endurance events like Ironman and Spartan Races will testify to, it’s when we put ourselves in uncomfortable and challenging situations that we start to feel fully human.
With the proliferation of yoga and other movement practices in the last 30 years or so we are starting to see some really interesting innovation by some amazing people. I know innovation is a bit of a dirty word in the world of ashtanga yoga but, more and more, I’m starting to realise that we need to connect with other disciplines in order to truly understand our own.
When Ramamohan Brahmachari taught yoga to Krishmnamacharya in the Himalayas he could never possibly have understood that, in one hundred years time, the practitioners of this discipline would be sitting at a desk in front of a computer for a minimum of eight hours a day, five days a week!
It’s worth considering that even doing 9 hours of yoga per week may not fully solve all the problems that we’ve created with our modern lifestyle. The other 159 hours are also important!
So with that in mind, we’ve become very interested in the work of Tony Riddle, The Natural Lifestylist. In October he ran the length of Great Britain, from Land’s End to John O’ Groats in 30 days. That’s 30 miles per day. And he did the entire thing in his bare feet!!
Tony talks a lot about ‘rewilding’ our bodies and, also, our home and work environments so that we can start to live in a way that is more conducive to the proper functioning of our bodies and minds. The human being, after all, was forged through natural selection in the wilderness.
The best news is that we’ve reached out to Tony Riddle and he has agreed to come and share some of his knowledge with us at the shala. I’ll have more details for you soon but we expect that he’ll be teaching a two-day workshop at the shala on the weekend of the 8th and 9th of February 2020, from 10 am to 6 pm each day.
Please don’t misunderstand me here. Ashtanga yoga, on a purely physical level is an incredibly effective practice but it’s not perfect (physically). Bear in mind also, though, that the point of yoga isn’t to attain physical perfection. Yoga postures are, ultimately, tools to help bring us into a state of yoga; that is, having a pure and still mind. I’m talking here on a mostly physical plane.
Interesting things are happening in the world of movement. Mark Robberds, Ido Portal, Tony Riddle, and others are doing work which is enhancing our understanding of how to attain mastery of our bodies in the modern world. They are some of the pioneers of our generation, in the same way that Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois were in their time.
We embrace this new inquiry and the knowledge which is being added by these trailblazers.
The times and dates for Tony Riddle’s visit might be subject to change but that’s the plan so far.