The Wonder of Yoga
For our website blogs here at the Hamblin Centre, we have decided to use a new ‘Question and Answer’ interview format with Trustees, therapists and practitioners to glean their thoughts and perspective on a variety of themes. We are very grateful to everyone for taking the time to answer the questions and for sharing their unique insights with our website readers.
This month we ask Kathryn Bingham, yoga teacher and member of staff at the Hamblin Centre, for her views on yoga.
What does Yoga mean to you?
Yoga is literally everything! The word yoga originates from the Sanskrit verb meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’, so yoga is often translated as union or oneness. So to me, yoga is the understanding that we are all one -there is no separation. It is so much more than simply practising postures , breathing and relaxation techniques and we could spend a lifetime exploring the deep innate wisdom of yoga philosophy..
What type of Yoga do you teach and practise?
I’m trained in two different schools of yoga - The Friends of Yoga ( or FRYOG , as it is often referred to) and the Iyengar method of Yoga based on the inspired instruction of the late BKS Iyengar. The Iyengar method works with great precision and alignment and uses a good number of props such as blocks, belts, bricks and bolsters so that students can work safely and get the most out of their practise. The Fryog method is more open to different ideas and perhaps would be described as having a more eclectic approach to the practise. So my teaching is a bit of a mixture of different styles, adapted to what I feel is most suited to the groups I teach. I feel strongly that yoga can be practised by anyone regardless of fitness, age or physical limitation.
How do you practise Yoga in everyday life?
Apart from the joy I get from getting my yoga mat out everyday and practising a wide variety of postures, relaxation techniques and breath work, I aim to bring the philosophical and practical guidelines of yoga (as given in the 8 Limbs of Yoga) into everything I think, do, say, eat and aspire to! I don’t succeed, of course!… but having that spiritual context to guide me is of huge benefit.
Can you give an example of how yoga has helped you recently?
Recently, my wonderful yoga teacher of many years died, bringing a great sense of loss. But the practise of yoga that she taught has given me the comforting spiritual perspective of the eternal aspects of ourselves, and helped give me inner strength. It has also given me a heightened sense of truly appreciating and valuing the uniqueness of each moment and of each person we meet.
What value is a yoga practice in today’s current world?
Effecting personal change is key to effecting global change. If we each can become just a little more balanced and peaceful it will have a knock on effect with our family, friends, and from there to the local community, national community and even global community! Imagine a world where we all followed the guidelines of the ancient wisdom schools promoting unity, compassion, tolerance and inner peace - a world where we all felt our deep connection with each other. We need to think beyond the limited western view of yoga as being simply about practising postures. Yoga is a transformational way of being.
Can you recommend any resources or writers who have influenced or inspired you with regard to yoga?
I have greatly valued a number of books on the Iyengar method of Yoga, particularly enjoying those written by Mira Mehta as well as by Mr Iyengar himself - the yoga ‘bible’ being his seminal work Light on Yoga. I also enjoy the books by Donna Farhi - particularly The Breathing Book and books by Jenny Beeken that help explain the philosophy of Yoga in a very accessible way - Ancient Wisdom : Following the Yoga of the Heart is a good starting point. I have also been strongly influenced over many years by the powerful teachings of White Eagle and his method of meditation .
If you could give us a tip on how to keep up a yoga practice in challenging times what would that be?
Roll your yoga mat out every day and see what you are inspired to practise; ensuring that you practise some relaxation or meditation techniques every day; be open to explore the teachings of different spiritual teachers and traditions to continually gain fresh insights and inspiration. If you don’t feel drawn to the more physical aspects of yoga, then simply practise being loving and kind. And trust your own inner wisdom!