As he’s not a frequent visitor to these isles, we jumped at the opportunity to study with Mark again, and it was fantastic to see him again and soak up his teachings and the yoga. As a direct student of Krishnamacharya, he frequently emphasises the importance that Krishnamacharya placed upon adapting the Yoga practice to the individual as opposed to trying to squeeze the practitioner into the practice, which unfortunately occurs with ,many of the one size fits all forms of yoga that have appeared in recent decades. Common sense tells us that each individual is unique, having an experience through life which is specific to them, therefore the yoga practice they receive needs to be appropriate to them and communicated in a way that is relevant to them.
This was most certainly our, and the collective experience, of studying with Mark this month. Although a native of New Zealand, he is the descendant of emigrants from these Islands, and as he said himself, that allows him to really “get this place” in relation to it’s society, culture, landscape, history etc. I found that this made his teachings incredibly powerful and inspiring, the understanding of the shared, collective experience of the people of “the green islands in the grey sea”.
Just as the episodes and circumstances of our individual life have shaped us, so have the history and circumstances of here, shaped both society and us as individuals within it. The presence of millennia of challenge, difficulty, strife for people, anything we can think of from invasions, to declines of old ways of living, from feudal overlords to disease and environmental destruction, from wars to the industrial revolution, and all manner of other phenomena have left a deep impact upon our collective and individual consciousness. Damaging the bodies, minds and spirit of the people of these lands.
The practices of yoga serve us brilliantly as a way for us to directly connect with ourselves as living, breathing human beings and to begin to recognise these patterns, habits and structures that have accumulated in us generation after generation and which limit our wellbeing, comfort and happiness. The karmas of both society and the individual. And with the recognition of these karmas there is also the means within these yoga practices to let go of them, to live in a way which recognises, respects and honours this amazing unfoldment of life around us and within us. For us to live in a way that seeks to both care for and nurture ourselves and the rest of life.
Once again Mark, thanks for your presence and teaching.