December 2020: On Medicine

Rainbow over Glasgow on the16 December 2020

On Medicine

David Swenson, with whom I have been practicing online, often refers to the practice as our medicine. He is adamant that we need to learn to administer this and that one size absolutely does not fit all. This is also what ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, believes: one person’s medicine is another’s poison.

To learn to administer means considering dosage, regularity, method, circumstances and to monitor the effect each of these has on you. It also means you need to be aware of what it is you might be using medicine for. What is ailing you? What patterns are you trying to change? What are you hoping to achieve from your yoga? These are questions we should not forget when we practice, especially Ashtanga Yoga, which is very drawn towards both the cult of the body and autopilot mode, neither of which will bring you closer to yoga.

Our yoga should not become another problem in our lives, it should support us to live better and, for that, we need to learn how to use it effectively and efficiently. It should not make us tired, or injure us, it should not be a chore. It should tune our instruments (mind, body, breath) so we can better play in the symphony of life. One of the things I love about practicing with David is that his benchmark for the practice is to feel better at the end of it than at the beginning. Such a simple instruction yet so effective. It really works. Try it!

Laura x

What I have been practicing
How do you know if you practice is working? Just because you achieve certain poses, it does not mean you are closer to yoga. You might be doing advanced gymnastics, or deep calisthenics, but those are not closer to the freedom and awakening at the core of yoga. My teacher James Boag has two interrelated systems to see if you are administering your medicine correctly and efficiently: Sat-Cit-Ananda and Satya-Rita-Brihat.

Sat / Beingness: Is your practice making you more who you really are?
Cit / Consciousness: Is your practice enhancing your consciousness?
Ananda / Bliss: Is your practice allowing you to be blissful?

Satya / Presence: Is your practice making you more present?
Rita / Rhythm: Is your practice bringing you into rhythm with yourself and your surroundings?
Brihat / Spaciousness: Is your practice expanding your space?

What I have been reading

What we ingest, we have to digest. But the key to a good, healthy digestion is not simply in what it is that we consume. Ayurveda believes that there are at least eight factors for digestion, which include the body and the mind:

  1. Prakruti: our physical ability to digest based on our constitution, whether we are tamas, rajas, sattva or a combination
  2. Karana: how food is prepared
  3. Samyoga: how food is combined
  4. Rashi: the quantity of food consumed
  5. Desha: the environment where you are consuming
  6. Kala: time (age, season, time of day)
  7. Upyoga Samastha: how you consume
  8. Upbhokta: how you are when you consume the food.

I would invite you to pay attention to all these during this festive holiday and see if you can change those that are not serving you. Sometimes, changing something small in your environment (orientation,  sounds, lighting) can make such a big difference in how you process your food!

What I have been listening to

I attended a Sounds of Sanskrit workshop with Lucy Crisfield from  Original Wisdom. She was extraordinary at explaining the correct pronunciation of mantras and taught us to sing to the Gayatri Mantra in ekashruti, or one tone. It was such a healing experience! This year, I have been getting more and more into sound practices and really enjoyed Lucy’s new album of mantras. Her YouTube channel is full of beautiful short videos that will help you get the most of your chanting.

Over the Christmas period, my dear, dear Yotam has been sharing his Daily Mantra project. I could not fail to include it in this newsletter, for your delight and your medicine dose. Such beautiful, peaceful recordings. Recite along or simply listen let the sound work through you!
Kia does regular weeks of practice online. She will be doing a moon day pranayama session on the 30th December and an online shala programme week of the 4th January (with Yotam’s music!!!). This will be such an incredible opportunity to mark the turning of this very eventful year, letting go of the old and welcoming in the new.
My open classes are back on Tuesday 5 January and I have kept the programme as before. I cannot wait to see all of you and support you as we walk 2021 together!

My classes welcome all of you. They are attended by a fun group of practitioners of all levels from many places around Europe. It is a true delight to share these mornings:

07.15 – 08.30/09.00
ONLINE | Yoga (Led into Mysore) 

07.15 – 08.30/09.00
ONLINE | Yoga (Led into Mysore)*

*PRANAYAMA (Breathing) first Thursday of every month
ONLINE | 7 January


I am also available for pranayama one-to-one sessions online (introductory or following up your practice).
The full Yoga Moves Glasgow programme is designed to support you now that we know this new way of living is not going to change any time soon. The full schedule is online here. There are some excellent teachers and interesting classes!
My last class at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will be in January at the usual times. I cannot wait to see all my students and colleagues!
YOGA for STAFF (sign up with HR)
ONLINE | Mondays 13.00 – 14.00

YOGA for STUDENTS (check RCS Sport on Facebook)
ONLINE | Wednesdays 18.00 – 19.00
ONLINE | Fridays 13.00 – 14.00