Someone asked me the other day what I liked about being a yoga teacher.
I can’t think of many things I would rather do than teach a Bikram class, but I had to really think about a proper answer. I think when you love doing something, it’s almost harder to answer, because the fit’s so right that there’s no friction driving you to start to look for reasons.
So I thought about it. I mean the obvious answer is because I want other people to discover how great doing the Bikram sequence in particular can make them feel and transform.
But the more nuanced, long-way-around answer is that it means I have to keep working on myself consistently in order to keep doing a (hopefully) good job. And I don’t mean just doing the practice, so I can show up authentically, but other kind of exploratory work, whether it be breath work or Reiki or another style of yoga or sound healing, that you need to do so you don’t go stale. It sounds like kind of a self-centred answer, but I think there’s a paradox where you need to work on yourself so that you realise too that you have nothing to do with the class — the power is in the sequence and the ancient poses. You’re just passing it along. You need to check your ego at the door, and that takes work on the ego.
The Animals in That Country. Laura Jean McKay has won a glittering away awards for this book, presciently set in Australia amid a strange flu breaking out around the country. Sufferers get to understand what animals are saying. McKay wrote this while recovering from chikunungya contracted at the Ubud Writers Festival a few years ago, sometimes in a hallucinatory state. I haven’t finished this (I loved her short story collection Holiday in Cambodia) but put it aside for a moment to finish off Flash Count Diary, which I had started a year or two ago. It was one of those beautiful synchronistic juxtapositions between books, reading about animals talking to people and all that might entail one moment and this the next:
Even though menopause has pushed me back onto my animal frame, I don’t kid myself that now I am one with them. In the presence of animals, I am thrilled by their physicality. But I also feel their deep inscrutability… [The writer Lidia Millet] warns against shallow interspecies enlightenment and claims that the fact we cannot fathom animals is a great and precious gift: ‘I cherish the reality that other animals are us, in that they have sentiences and are not us, in that the nature of that sentiences is an eternal mystery.’
The Rain Heron. A book group book, and it’s lovely.
Olive Kitteridge. Thoroughly life-affirming.