Winter is a time of turning inward as the dark nights close in and our thoughts naturally focus on home. Where, and what, is home to you?
The dictionary defines it as ' a place where a person lives permanently' - but doesn't home mean more to us than that? Home has become synonymous with a place of love, comfort and belonging - a vital refuge from the often hectic world we live in. While many of us are have a place we can call home, others are not so fortunate.
Recently I have been reading the teachings of a Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who was exiled from his home in Vietnam in the 1960s and
was not able to return for more than 40 years. He had to learn to live and survive in the West and make a home in this modern world we live in a far cry from the monastic life he had been used to.
In his book 'At Home in the World' he describes the home that he was able to foster while travelling and speaking in many countries: "Our true home is the present moment, whatever is happening right here and now. Our true home is a place without discrimination, a place without hatred. Our true home is a place where we are no longer seeking anything, no longer yearning for anything, no longer regretting anything."
It sounds idyllic doesn't it? Is there really such a place... and how can we find it?
Thich Nhat Hanh (known as Thay or teacher) says: "Your true home is something that you have to create for yourself. When we know how to make peace with our body, to take care of our body, and release the tensions in our body, then our body becomes a comfortable, peaceful home for us to come back to in the present moment."
One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to practice yoga and meditation. These two simple forms of physical asana poses and mental focus, yoke, or unite, the body and mind in a way that brings us back home to ourselves.
This month I have had the pleasure of teaching meditation, pranayama and a range of yoga styles from hot yoga in 40 degree celcius heat and warm vinyasa flow (30 degrees), to slow flow, candle lit yin and restorative yoga in London's leading yoga studios, in the comfort of people's homes and the convenience of their workplaces.
What I have noticed as a teacher is how some poeple need a more physical fast-paced practice before they can settle into a state of calm, and others slip naturally into this meditative state as soon as you give them a warm blanket and a mat. Adapting my classes to meet these varying needs is one of the many aspects of teaching that I enjoy ... and find most rewarding. It is joyous to see people feeling at 'home.'
I hope to see you on the mat soon.