Estia is a haven in the busy streets of Jericho. Tucked away behind Walton Street, it has a calm and thankfully a clean air environment. When the windows are opened in summer there is not a slew of traffic passing by, instead you can hear the birds sing.
When I first explored the space I admired the cork floors and peaceful atmosphere, the companionable plants, the interesting products for sale, and the experience of the teachers. It is a studio for people who are working to improve every aspect of their health, body, mind, and heart. It embraces you, enfolds you into it’s safe subtle space and nurtures.
Estia has an intelligent approach to wellbeing. The ethos is holistic, which is why Kundalini Yoga fits in well. Kundalini Yoga is a technology that works on many levels to balance the psyche, the hormones in the body, the spiritual needs of the soul (without being religious), and the function of the brain.
If you live in or near Jericho and winter strikes cold, get yourself to Estia on 6 King Street and feel better as soon as you walk through the door. I hold Kundalini Yoga classes at Estia some Fridays, and at my studio in Summertown 52 Lonsdale Road on Thursdays at 6pm. You are most welcome to both.
The transitions between seasons offer a wonderful chance to re-align with the flow of nature and can help with difficult emotional hurdles such as acceptance, and letting go.
As the number of autumns in my life stack up I recognise the season as a way to frame loss and death. Things become less painful, or at least I am more able to accept the pain and be content with it. The dogs at that timeless structure Stonehenge yesterday reminded me of the paradox: seasons pass, but all is now.
In the Prelude Wordsworth said ‘nature never did betray the heart that loved her’ It is true. Not that pain and illness, loss and confusion won’t assail us all, but that you will have the resources to accept and merge with what does happen in the end. If you can flow with nature, so can your difficult times. Everything passes.
Even the uncomfortable awareness of ageing is ameliorated by witnessing the rhythms of flora and fauna around us. WB Yeats, an Irish poet deeply immersed in Celtic and Classical mythology, meditated on the passage of time in The Wild Swans at Coole:
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight, The first time on this shore, The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Yeats allows himself the melancholy that meditation on death might bring, while simultaneously acknowledging the anchoring effects of nature:
Their hearts have not grown old; Passion or conquest, wander where they will, Attend upon them still.
Swans represent beauty because of their grace. They stand for power with their incredible wings. Living on the water they are connected to intuition, awareness, and creativity. Their ease and calm on the water show unity of body and mind, and their silence represents the grace of the soul. In many cultures they symbolise harmony, and healing. In Celtic mythology they are a symbol for transience and all things concerning change.
In the end Yeats is poised, like the wing-beat of the swans, his resistance to change and growing older suspended.
Among what rushes will they build, By what lake’s edge or pool Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day To find they have flown away?
He accepts the mystery. It’s a fine line though, between surrender and asserting the will. In kundalini the practical approach is that you create your own destiny, for example with postures such as archer pose you strengthen your focus to aim true. All of the kriyas have an underlying structure to develop your grit and determination, so that you have the will power to manifest things in the world.
Yet in the practice you are also encouraged to deal with whatever comes up with grace. There is a certain joy to be felt from spontaneity and the freedom that not being set on a specific outcome can bring. That is why often kriyas contain moments of improvised dance or random movements. It is not just about will-power. It is about making your nervous system strong so that whatever occurs in life can be assimilated without knocking you to pieces. It is about seeing beyond apparent polarities to being able to work with all the paradoxes of life. Postures that emphasise Manipura (3rd chakra) strengthen will power, but there are seven other major chakras that given the chance to shine, will bring you all you need to live a joyful life.
‘Healthy, happy and holy’ was Yogi Bhajan’s motto for the organisation he started in order to lift up humanity 50 years ago in 1969. That is why it is called 3HO. He established drugless drug rehabilitation centres, and was a tireless advocate for world peace. In 1994 3HO became a member of the United Nations, and Yogi Bhajan started several businesses (Yogi Tea was one of them) to generate income for charity. On the 3HO website you can find accurate information about all aspects of Kundalini Yoga, Yogic philosophy and psychology.
That is where I go for some ideas. But in the first instance I always go to nature.