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A stone in my shoe

I don’t believe in co-incidence, so when I was walking home from the park today and felt a stone in my shoe, I knew it was time to write this blog.

Bear with me…

Just prior to the stone in shoe moment, I had been on the phone to a potential new yoga student, who was explaining to me the symptoms of a “disorder” he’s been diagnosed with, which means that his body and mind don’t talk to each other.

As a result, he is in constant pain and his body does not respond reliably to conscious impulses for movement.

This man has been treated by the NHS for 10 years, to no avail, so wants to try yoga.

Our conversation was fascinating, as we explored the body-mind connection and, following his lead, the relationship between masculine and feminine.

“The masculine approach isn’t working for me” he said “and I want to work with a woman. They tend to have a more holistic approach to things, as well as a greater acceptance and understanding of the body.”

Yes indeed.

In yogic and tantric philosophy, the body itself IS an expression of the feminine. And both of these paths are about integrating the polarities of body and mind, energy and consciousness.

Yet, as my eager new student and I agreed, far too much emphasis has been, and still is, placed upon the supremacy of body over mind: the "no pain, no gain" approach.

This, in a nutshell, is patriarchy. A belief-system evident in men and women (and all of our social structures) that ignores or belittles the wisdom and beauty of the body.

  • So that individuals (but especially women) go to ridiculous lengths to match an externally defined ideal of physical perfection, yet still feel inadequate.

  • Causing stress, exhaustion and disease, as a result of a constant over-riding of the body’s needs and messages.

  • Plundering and devastating our natural environment, which is the feminine body writ large.

The past 15 years of my life have been dedicated to cultivating a deep, intimate and loving relationship with my physical body and in holding space for others to do the same.

Again and again, I have been astounded by the lack of embodied awareness, the numbness and dissociation, that prevails in western culture.

And again and again, I have seen the aliveness, joy, healing, empowerment and em-purposement that is stirred, when the senses are awakened and body and mind united.

Imagine my delight, then, when I got to speak with international yogi, Katchie Ananda, for Heart to Heart and heard her so passionately reference the need for yoga to release itself from “the clutches of patriarchy”.

As a budding yoga student, she herself suffered long-standing injury when her teachers pushed her body – literally – into postures it was not ready for!

And this is why Katchie so ardently advocates for us to love and embrace our bodies as an ally, whilst simultaneously training and elevating the mind.

What emerges from this inner marriage, is then a beautiful alchemy of masculine and feminine: the birthing ground of enlightenment and an awareness of the inter-connectedness of all things.

So if you're the kind of person who notices a stone in their shoe (literally or metaphorically), but keeps on walking, even when it's uncomfortable, I invite you to stop next time and listen to your body. It may have something to tell you!

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