September 2021: On Change



Today, 7am on Monday 20 September. The mornings are getting darker.

On change

I often get asked: ‘don’t you get bored of always practicing the same yoga posture sequence?’ I have never even considered getting bored. Boredom does not enter into the realm of possibilities with my practice even though the sequence I do most mornings has indeed been the same for quite some time. The thing is, though, it never feels the same because one of the interesting characteristics of Ashtanga Yoga is that repeating the same sequence shows, with incredible clarity, that what changes is the practitioner. Every day feels different because I am different.

When I was looking for a topic to explore this month, I went back through my previous archive of newsletters and I was surprised I had never written about change. For the past 18 months, we sure have become intimate with it, but change was here before. It is always here. Change, together with death, are the only certainties in life. Change is not good or bad, it is just a fact and, whether faster or slower to manifest, it is constantly happening.

Yoga takes place at the points of juncture. This is best represented in the Bhagavad Gita, when Arjuna doubts his ability to fight the battle, falls at the feet of his charioteer Krishna and asks him ‘what do I do?’. Only then, in the cracks created by the instability of change, can Krishna show him what yoga really is. This is why it is also very common to practice at a time called sandhi, or transitional: between dark and light, morning and afternoon, doing special actions at equinox and solstice.

On the equinox we just passed this week, it was very windy in Glasgow and a friend told me that there is such a thing as the equinox winds, perhaps winds of change. Resilience, which is one of those words that had been endlessly repeated during the pandemic is simply the ability to adapt to change. Reeds are resilient. They might not be strong as some trees but when strong winds come, they are able to bend and adapt, recovering their position when they pass.

I always think of reeds at moments of change.

Laura x

What I have been pondering

I am a summer person. I adore the heat, the sunshine, the light, the long days. I tend to perceive Autumn as loss, as a drawing inside that I am not yet ready to do. Once I accept it, I love the scarves, the darkness and the colours, but it does take me a while to adapt to the fact that it is no longer summer. Last year, in December, at the height of pandemic uncertainty, I attended a satsang with James Boag at which we considered seasonal change. We looked at a medicine wheel, mapping changes that take place on a day, a year, a lifetime.

My perspective changed somewhat when I realised that, to truly transform, a period of integration is vital. I had not considered that before, always driven forward by the growth of the summer. But is it growth if it is not fully integrated in the system? So, instead of revelling in my energetic pursuits of the Summer, its social life and freedom, in Autumn, I cultivate intuition and presence. I get to be and reflect, rather than constantly do. Permission to do that is a blessing. What did I learn in the summer, what is new and I can now embrace?

In the satsang, we linked the medicine wheel to the four qualities that Patañjali lays out in the yoga sutras as being essential to support yoga practice. They are (in James’s words):* Śraddhā: the faith, confidence, conviction, self-trust that comes from heartful exploration.
* Vīrya: the heroic valour, courage to wrestle with all it means to be human, to heed the call of conscience even when everything around us is flooding in an opposite direction.
* Smṛti: the memory that comes from wholehearted practice, that it is worth it, that challenges will come, are part of the process.
* Samādhi: the balanced, integrated awareness in which I can recognise who I really am.

Autumn is the time to cultivate memory as a quality of your practice.

What I have been practicing

It is so easy to feel ungrounded at times of change. But we have tools and mechanisms in our body to feel there is solid ground amidst the shifts. One of these tools is the Hara. With Kia, I learned this beautiful practice of meditating on the breath at the belly. Now, thanks to her and Yotam, you can too. This is what Kia wrote about it in her letter (to which you should subscribe):

Dropping our awareness deep into our belly, our Hara, brings us down from the control-tower of our mind and connects us to the very seat of all layers of our embodiment. Here we come to know wether we are connected to ourselves and the world, or disconnected.

And if you are not a meditator, here is a gorgeous soundscape Yotam created for Mysore Yoga Paris. It is called Changes and it is one of my favourites. Wonderful for your asana practice, but sometimes I listen to it when I am at home doing some work and I want a held vibe around me. I am listening to it as I type!

What I have been listening to
Don’t let changes make you serious or heavy. Walk lightly. And dance. James always says convert the battlefield (the one both Arjuna and ourselves are in) into a dance floor. And who better to make you boogie, big or small, than David Bowie? Ch-ch-ch-chaaaanges …. The video is great too. He was so skilled at reinventing himself. Pure resilience.
Our programme at Yoga Moves Glasgow is in full swing! I teach LIVE at the Arlington ever Thursday morning. If you want to come, please book in advance as we are still restricting numbers for your safety and comfort. And for those of you who cannot make it, Tuesday mornings (including pranayama, for now) are still online. Best of both worlds!
Tuesdays, 07.15 – 08.30/09.00, ONLINE | Yoga (Led into Mysore) 
Thursdays, 07.15 – 08.30/09.00, LIVE | Yoga (Led into Mysore)**PRANAYAMA (Breathing) first Tuesday of every month


07.15 – 08.30

I am also available for pranayama one-to-one sessions online (introductory or following up your practice).
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland classes for staff and students will resume soon. Keep an eye out for the next newsletter.
Copyright © 2021 Laura Gonzalez Yoga, All rights reserved.

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