Why we do Yoga

Unknown-4This is a very emotive title for this post. Do we ever really consider why we do what we do and are we aware of why this system of yoga was developed . Over the years I have seen many changes and developments and the direction yoga has taken. Is this how it was supposed to go…. I recently attended a showing of ‘Awake’,  a documentary of the life of Paramhamsa Yogananda.  He wrote a book about his life called Autobiography of a Yogi, a cult book of the 60s. What a powerful read. I remember being so inspired after reading this book that it had a profound effect on my future in yoga and my quest to find myself as a spiritual being in this world… and what a journey it has turned out to be.

I was reminded of the hours I spent in libraries and bookshops in search of the material that spoke of and recounted the lives of those exceptional ones who attained to those heights of spiritual awakening and a personal realisation of ones own divinity. Paramhamsa Yoganandya was such a person, and thorough his efforts help bring yoga to the west and oh boy look at what is happening now. He’s message was to follow the Eightfold Path of Ashtanga Yoga.

In brief the eight limbs, or steps to yoga, are as follows:

  1. Yama :  Universal morality
  2. Niyama :  Personal observances
  3. Asanas :  Body postures
  4. Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  5. Pratyahara :  Control of the senses
  6. Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  8. Samadhi :  Union with the Divine

Each of these 8 steps brings us closer to an awareness of our true being. But this journey is not to be understood by intellectual study alone,  but by the penetration of our understanding through the discipline and effort integral to yoga sadhana.

I ask you, is this how you practice…. do you think that your sadhana will bring you to the place of understanding of your true nature??


Hot Yoga


We have heard allot about Hot Yoga and how it can heal and transform our bodies. Of course our muscles, tendons and joints respond in a favourable way to dynamic movements when they are sufficiently warmed up. But yoga practiced with our bodies at normal temperature still has these same benefits, but we just need to be more gentle with our approach. We are all familiar with how much more relaxed we feel when we are in a warm environment, and this has a very significant influence on how we experience our practice.

But are we not forgetting another very important element here, our minds?
For many years I felt an intensity to my practice, as if I was making some form of atonement for the negativities of my lives. This is no longer the case, but now more from an attitude of reverence and devotion. Through my meditation I have learned to be more patient and joyful in my practice, and like my teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso often reminds us, ‘To practice with a peaceful and happy mind…’

I feel this to be more what Sadhana is – a method to cleanse our minds, and lead us into the purity of our own Hearts.

One Love X

Can Yoga Heal?


A common question with uncommon answers. I guess we all know someone who may have come to yoga practice because of injury and after trying various treatments in order to get better. Sometimes as a last resort they try yoga. And what about ourselves? Maybe we have come to the practice of yoga for similar reasons or even the promise of a future benefit that yoga can bring us. Whatever reason we are drawn to do yoga, we are in the expectancy of some kind of benefit. This is only natural. If after undertaking a practice and we find out ‘WOW this thing really works’, then we become firm believers in the power of yoga to heal, and sing it’s praises to all who have ears to listen.

However have you ever considered those who have undergone serious study and practice but alas never experienced the benefits of the healing they hoped for? What about those people? Could it be that yoga only works for some and not for others? Have you ever considered that healing can happen at different levels of our being? Maybe in our motive to be free from our illness and applying ourselves consciously to seek a cure, we somehow become transformed from a personal quest to one of altruistism, a wish for others to be free from the woes of unhappiness, sickness and disappointment.

Something huge has changed. Something great and noble has arisen within us. Oh yes yoga can definitely heal. The healing of course is the turning away from total self interest and a turning towards the uncommon knowledge that we all, at some level experience a yearning to become whole. To become Whole or should I say to realise Wholeness is YOGA.

Peace and Love,


Beads of Sweat


Yet another lovely session of Mantra – Pranayama – yogAsana – Meditation at the hot yoga studio yogahaven Birmingham. The room was heated more for this workshop than the previous one that Tony and I taught in February this year. There were 19 of us including some returning students from before. Tony led off the session with a detailed practice on the OM chant, connecting us through sound to go inside and feel the reverberations in our being. Later he introduced us to the Bramari Breath, a constant humming that again amplifies the primordial sound of being. Worming on these different chants and variations thereof whilst we quietly sit in stillness as the perspiration soaks our skin allowing us to embrace the enhanced warmth in the hit yoga studio.
When we started to work through the yogAsana standing and balancing sequence of postures we were well lubricated and into the atmosphere of this hot practice. Intensely working on releasing the legs and twisting postures to free up the spinal column. The sequence was punctuated with short tests so as not to exhaust the body but to gradually work deeper into postures assisted with the heated atmosphere. Beads of sweat dripping from the tip of our noses onto the leading foot in alignment in the postures. After 1 1/2 hours of this posture work we again settled into the stillness of quiet meditation drawing our attention to the HEART CENTRE. The sweat flowing freely, the Mind liberated from worldly concerns at least for an instant in time.

Peace and Love, Namaste to All beings.

Back to the Land of My Forefathers Part 4 Conclusion

Final FarewellI’m on the coach now from London Victoria to Manchester, and recalling the events of the final week of our holiday. I could recollect the happenings that took place with us during that final week, about those regular but out of the ordinary encounters we all have memories of when in a foreign land, but what comes more vividly to mind is an interaction wilth a hidden culture washed over by the modern necessity of survival. Everything is not as it appears to be… As visitors to Jamaica we meet a people whose economy is very dependent on tourism, on revenue brought into the country by people like ourselves. This being so we are looked upon in a big way as potential customers and our concept of them as sales people and marketeers. This is only one aspect of how we meet and form our opinions of people. But in order to really understand folk it is important to go beyond what we are presented with and ask real questions about culture, beliefs and aspirations. Fortunately I was able to do this to some degree, and what I discovered was what I termed ‘Caribbean Wisdom’ that has it’s origins embedded in Africa and the heritage arising from that vast Continent. It was as if I could see these traits before but I couldn’t recognise them……

Wood carverShowing his artwork

It wasn’t until on a very special day out into the countryside and way off the beaten track that some magic descended upon me. A magical moment when our driver, Brent, transformed into the legendary Yoda from Star Wars and imparted me with this ancient wisdom that I never knew existed but was at the heart of these Afro Caribbean people. If only it was possible to retain these moments of genius being revealed to me at this time but to be mentored in this way felt like an initiation a true learning and rite of passage. It is born from the Heart and from the compassionate bosom of creation, a spirit that has no foundation in a materialistic world but from the world of spirit. I am absorbing this wisdom and feel noble and proud. My fears are also present. Like other cultures that have similar origins, can they survive the onslaught of this modern technological age? Past civilizations have disappeared and been overtaken by natural disaster, or the greed of mankind. Technology has two faces. It can destroy us or give us the edge to survive. That asteroid from afar that will one day impact the earth and possibly wipe out a people can perhaps be averted by the advancement in technological knowledge. The scientists are working on this at this very moment. In this way it is important to increase our knowledge and understanding of this world. But this will not lead to healing the rift we experience of separation and differences. For me this dilemma was healed in one of my morning meditations on Emptiness.

In reality none of us are who we think we are and identify with. It’s all a big illusion, a trick of the mind. We have had many identities over the endless cycle of births and deaths we have undertaken. If we could recognise our true essence that is beyond birth and death then colour, and creed would not be a factor in our wanting to belong. Because our essence is free from all boundaries and can take any shape or form. The real problem is that we identify with this present form and see it as being different from other forms. We don’t know ourselves….

Rasta on the Beach

In order to free ourselves from this big delusion we meditate. And with our gradual understanding we come to recognise the Blessed Nature within each and every living Being…. Thank you Jamaica for your teachings and Blessings to all.

‘We see people’ and that is how it should be…….

Back to the Land of My Forefathers Part 3

We’re up as usual in the morning and after a short meditation period and breakfast, our driver Brent, is awaiting us at the entrance to the Yoga Centre.

We load up and away we go to, who else, Bob Marley sounds on the  stereo. We travel out of Negril and into ……. These various towns and Parishes are reminders of the  darker days of the past, our driver reminds us of the history of this island, fought over by the French, the Spanish and the British. A time of intense suffering and hardship of an enslaved people, driven at the hands of their perpetrators, to work the land and toil……. Brent is well studied, and is expert on local history, geography and at keeping us informed as to ‘what’s going down..’

Following along the coast road with spectacular views and coastal properties, we journey towards the distant hills that divide the Ireland. If you think you’ve seen potholes, you haven’t. I live up a track that cars can’t navigate, here in Jamaica these potholes are in the middle of the main roads. One false move and your vehicle is grounded. These roads are vehicle destroyers. We have 3 1/2 hours of this dodging potholes ahead of us. But, we don’t care, we’re in Jamaica and we’re on our way to Kingston, the capital, and also to visit the famous Carnival. Eventually the rugged road turns into a supper new Toll Motorway that carries us onto The Capital.

Once we reach Kingston, we pass by very contrasting worlds of Ghettos and prosperity.

Of modern buildings and buildings from colonial days badly in need of love and care, and we pass by the Bob Marley Museum, which is closed unfortunately, a Mecca for ‘Rastas’. After scouting around and asking some of the locals we eventually catch a glimps of the Carnival. Wow… The beat is explosive, the costumes, extravagant and very sensual. These islanders are serious party people. I quickly get out of the car and run on foot to get amongst the foray of people, my camera snapping away at all this. Keep cool Guru, remember you’re a yoga teacher and stay in that cool space, soak up the vibe and enjoy…

Brent leaves us to it and we follow the floats and revelers. The rains come down on us but the party goes on. Who cares this is carnival time so all is good and swinging. After taking our batch of photos we eventually meet up with our Jamaican guide and head home a different route that takes us back over the hilly range, passing Spanish Town to a little roadside bar for rum, Malta for me and further on for local dishes of rice peas and Caloo, Jerk Chicken, Aki and Salt Fish and then the next couple of hours of even more potholed roads descending through to Montego Bay and then on to Negril and home….
That’s what I call a day out…

Back to the Land of My Forefathers Part 2

The Fire King

The entrainment is amazing here. We went for a meal at the hotel over the road from the Centre, the same evening as the karaoke. Some of the staff from the hotel had their turn and they could have passed as professional singers. Full vocals swaying bodies and ‘Booty Shakin’. Well this is Jamaica so what do you expect?… There was also a guy from Kingston, who called himself ‘The Fire King’. Swallowing flames and then a contortionist routine using Ashtanga Yoga Postures as a theme. Very good. After his performance he went round with a hat. We were very happy to put something in, he gave a great performance.

Our very own Nicole

Regarding the yoga we have spent the first three days on hip opening postures and the last three days developing the standing and balancing series of postures. The energy levels of everyone are very good and it’s important to pace oneself in this temperature as fatigue can seriously affect ones ability to do classes. So we have to be sensible in this area. After all yoga is what we came all this way for.

When we venture out to the town it feels like being a celebrity or so the locals would have you believe. It’s like so many other countries who rely so heavily on tourism, we are their major source of income and as most products are imported, forget about buying cheap goods. The prices are equivalent to English prices and in some cases more expensive. This is by no means a cheap holiday destination and one of the shopkeepers informed us that takings were 80% down on last season, so the world recession is biting everyone’s rear end on a global scale.

Only yesterday evening we met up with two young guys of 10 years old who said they hadn’t been to school that day because they had no money. Apparently they pay for lessons. Well that is what they told us. Great company and full of street wisdom. Christina, one of the girls from my group, and myself bought these guys some food and candy. They appreciated it but we got loads from these guys as well…… Need to abandon the beach now as, believe it or not, it’s raining bucket fulls, and we are setting off on a big trip tomorrow to Kingston. The city where my father was born….

Back to the Land of My Forefathers Part 1

After a 45 minute delay at Gatwick Airport and some parting words to my nearest and dearest, we eventually headed skywards towards the tropics of Jamaica. Having never visited this island, I feel curious about what I will see and meet once having landed.

We are 9 hours into the flight and are now entering landing mode. Fasten seat belts and be prepared to meet with destiny.

Having collected our bags and met up with our driver, who will take us to the Yoga Centre, we are on the road for a 1 1/2 hour road journey. We ride through a very contrasting environment. Through little villages and towns that make me sit up with amazement at how some of the people live in very poor housing conditions some of which resemble wooden sheds covered with galvanised metal sheeting. Contrasting with properties owned by the high earnerns withthere walked gardens and cultivated vegetable areas. I feel not exited but thoughtful as scenes rush my mind of hardship and struggle, this island of varying appearances unfolding in this very moment.

As we enter the more prosperous end of town, as we enter into the town of Negril there is a definite change in the buildings and people. The Yoga Centre is opposite some very plush hotels and set just off the road in lush vegetation. We have arrived.

My room is above the yoga space with a double bed, small fridge and lovely ambience. This will be my home for the next two weeks. We eat dinner over at the hotel but the vegetarian options are not that brilliant and quite expensive. But we are here in Jamaica, so let’s see what’s going down.

I rise at 04:00, and this is my plan for the remainder of the holiday. Surprisingly I am not sleepy or feeling any affects of the long journey to reach here. After cleansing my body, my practice starts with Uddiyana and Nauli. In my room, I prepare my place for seated meditation and my Sadhana practice. From experience I usually sit on a pillow on the bed. This keeps me away from any crawlies that might be arround. But surprisingly we are pretty free of such which is great for us all. After 2 hours my morning Sadhana is finished and I meet my guests for meditation and yoga.

Being Easter time there is allot of activity and music, music, music. It goes on through the daytime and through to the very late hours of the morning. Jamaica certainly honours it’s most famous son, Bob Marley, and I think he was responsible for founding the island, endorsing all it’s produce, and forging its history. Were there any other famous Jamaican people who came from this island?? Oh yes, the fastest man on the planet, the sprinter, Usain Bolt…….


Hey Guys this is Non Alcoholic Malta Drink. Yogis must keep a clear head……..

The Need for a Quiet Mind

Sitting in Full LotusJust as light illuminates it’s surroundings in a gentle way, so our awareness keeps us conscious in a watchful and functioning way. In order for that light to generate enough power to burn paper, cut through steel and melt rock, it needs to be concentrated as in a laser beam. In order for our mind to cut through the cloak of illusion, it also needs to be concentrated. It is with this steady concentration of the mind that we uncover the greatest illusion ever, the illusion and miss-identification of SELF,  and penetrate to the heart of true understanding.

At first we observe the mind in a fluctuating manner, sometimes aware of it’s object of concentration and sometimes aware of other sense perceptions that are not the chosen object of concentration. If our object of concentration is the touching sensation of the breath at the very tip of the nostrils, it is in this very noticing that the mind is distracted, and returning it to it’s chosen object of concentration, that we develop an acute attention that can penetrate into understanding. By holding the mind steady, we build a force, and this force overrides other sense awarenesses. We are lifted to an elevated state of consciousness that becomes self sustaining and blissful, and because of these qualities we become more able to maintain our periods of sustained attention over longer and longer expanses of time.

We begin to ‘Wake up’ and the periods and lapses of clarity become less frequent and of less duration in time. Of course this is a maturing process that may take awhile, but with regular application we start to prefer this, and feel more happy and more content in our lives and feel less the need to suffocate ourselves in distracting activities. For example anything that takes us away from our present moment and life situation. We cannot wake up in the future, we can only wake up at this very moment.

Just like a warrior in the midst of battle, remain steadfast and cut down your enemies one by one as they come before you…… The enemy of your Delusions……

Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah. The cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.

How to Become a Spiritual Warrior

As a follow up to my previous Blog Post ‘The Spiritual Warrior’, I would now like to show you how to set yourself in motion along the Path.

Firstly you will need a clean space, free from disturbance and with a good ambience. I suggest you pick a time in the morning just after rising and having cleansed your body. Evening times may also work if you are not too tired after the days work.
Sit crossed legged on a suitably padded but firm cushion on the floor. Place the right hand on top of the left with the thumbs lightly touching each other forming an oval resting on the thighs just below the level of the navel, or just simply rest them on the thighs.
Keep an erect spine as if pushing the crown of the head towards the sky.
Rest the tongue up against the roof of the pallet and just behind the top teeth.
Relax the belly.
You can keep the eyes slightly open and in a soft focus neither trying to see through the eyes or allowing them to become bleary.
Allow yourself to sit for a few minutes in order to allow your mind to settle down.
Then bring your attention to the Crown of your head, pause for 2 minutes, then down to the Throat, again pause, and finally to the Heart Centre, located at the center of the chest behind the breast bone. Here you can hold your attention for 10 to 20 minutes.
If the mind wanders away from the object of concentration, the Heart Centre, then simply notice and bring it back to the Heart.
Keep the breathing completely natural.

During this sitting period try not to fidget or move unnecessarily.

Before you begin and when you finish your practice, place your two hands together at your Heart, and bow whilst at your seat, to the Divinity within all beings.

By bringing your attention back again and again to the object of concentration, you develop a strong Mindfulness which remembers it’s object of concentration.

The Mind will eventually come to enjoy the euphoric experience of being still in this heightened state of awareness. The first steps on the road to becoming a real life Spiritual Warrior whose opponent is one’s own miss-conceptions and negativity.


Granville x

Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah