Integrating yoga and coaching

We really had so much fun with our yoga and coaching workshop in spring. It always feels like a miracle that something you imagine and dream about happens in real life. This blows me away every single time. As the year turns towards summer, I start to feel more inspired with much greater optimism than when it’s still dreary outside. I’m still dreaming about this workshop and how I want it to look but now we have a frame of reference it feels much more real.


This week I’ve been working with the idea of integration within the body. Often, it’s easier to talk about things in a physical sense than a philosophical or intellectual sense. When you feel it, you get it. Until you feel it, you’re never quite sure whether you understand it fully.

A little test if you will.

Stand with your arms out in front of you and reach for your preferred beverage at this moment. Whatever you like, no judgement. Now take your arms overhead. Do it slowly because this is easy to miss. You’ll probably feel that at a certain point, your arms get stuck, or you need to adjust slightly to take them overhead.

Now, take your arms out infront of you and draw them back towards you, like you’re bringing that delicious beverage towards you without bending your arms. I don’t know why you’d drink like this, that but humour me. Take your arms overhead again. I hope you’ll find the second time around it’s much more of a fluid movement.

What’s happened is that you’ve integrated the heads of your armbones into the shoulder joint. It’s where it’s meant to be, so it feels happier and has more freedom to move.

Integration in our community

We’re used to hearing that we’re all connected. And I guess at a basic level we can all understand this. But let’s be honest, it’s a bit wishy-washy and meaningless unless you apply it.

The way I see it is this.

I’ve had a rough time personally in the recent past. It’s fine, you don’t have to send flowers or anything, I’m writing it down simply for context. What I learnt quickly is to ask for help. My default is always my family but they don’t live too close, so I have to cast my net further than that. And what I learnt is that I’m incredibly lucky. I have a lot of people who I can reach out to who, without a second thought will offer me support. So, a moment of gratitude to those people, you know who you are.

Two things about this. First, if I’m going to hashtag it, I’m saying #mumsnet #runnet #yoganet #dogsmumnet. Which is my shorthand way of saying, I reach out to different people for different reasons. This is integration, this comes from living in a community for a while and being plugged into different networks. We’re all individuals and have unique strengths, that’s the beauty of the network. It integrates together to hold everyone up.

Yoga and coaching

What we learnt most of all from our first yoga and coaching workshop is that yoga and coaching on their own are incredibly potent tools to support us across our lives. Together they have the potential to unlock something very special.

And that’s the challenge we have now set ourselves over the next couple of months. How do we truly make this an integrated practice? When I was training to be a yoga teacher, I would spend whole weeks locked up with other yogis all with the same goal in mind. OK, we weren’t locked up, it was much nicer than that. It was more like a giant sleepover for adults. With curry. We called it the yoga bubble and it’s hard to convey what it feels like to be in the bubble until you’ve been there. However, I’m a trier to try I will.

Somehow, the collective consciousness of a shared goal, coupled with some truly extraordinary leaders enabled everyone to elevate their teaching. Or refine their teaching. Or take their first steps as a yoga teacher. There is no competition or hierarchy in that sense. We learn our strengths and collectively we support and learn from others. Everyone goes away richer and more fulfilled. And the bubble holds us for a while afterwards.

I guess on some level returning to that is where I’m aiming at. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour workshop, that’s ambitious but I’ve tasted it, so I know where I’m shooting at at least.

The lotus

As I was teaching the final meditation of our spring workshop a mantra came to mind:

ॐ मणिपद्मे हूँ

Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ

It translates something like “the jewel is in the lotus”. Because that’s what we see primarily. The lotus flower floats serenely on top of a pond.

What we don’t see is how it got there. The journey the plant made down into the earth, up through the water to unfurl its petals on top of the water.

Origin story

Cast your mind back a few millennia and bring it into the now.

I’ll wait.

The world is in a dark place. A sage by the name Durvasa is so enamoured with Lord Indra, he crafts a garland of flowers for him. As Indra rides past on his elephant Airvata, Durvasa throws the garland to him. Instead of gratitude, Indra puts the garland on his elephant’s forehead. Durvasa is, to say the least, not very happy. He curses Indra and the earth, which starts to die back and decay.

The Gods come together to figure out how to bring back the bounty of the earth. Lord Vishnu, the creator asks them all to churn the ocean of milk to restore the life of the earth. So they begin, and as with many of these stories, it takes a long time. A really long time.

They churn and churn and they do receive bounties along the way. They also churn a noxious poison called, halahala, one drop of which could knock you out. But that’s another story. Still, they churn.

Eventually, a lotus flower rises out of the water, unfurls and Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance sits atop.

The next bit I see as a reverse of the final scene of “don’t look up”. If you haven’t seen it (and don’t intend to), it ends with the earth exploding. If you did want to see it, oops – spoiler.

Instead of the impact of a meteor spreading across and destroying the plant the opposite happens. Beauty and abundance are spread throughout.

This is the story of Lakshmi and how she came into being. It tells of the trust, effort and perseverance it takes to create something beautiful.

The move from spring to summer

When we move from spring to summer this is truly where the churning of the past seasons really starts to become apparent. We see the flowers opening and enjoy the ease of longer days. And we get to enjoy all that we’ve spent time and effort in creating.

Sometimes it’s enough to offer gratitude sometimes we want to ride the crest of the swelling wave. Wherever you are we’ll meet you there.

This will be the theme for our next yoga with coaching workshop with Jane Irwin. I hope to see you there.