About this book
Elizabeth Gowing is not a likely yogini. She is too fond of cake and To-do lists, and sometimes falls over on her mat.
But yoga has taken her on journeys both inside and out and now she follows yoga around Britain - from the village hall where a quivering triangle pose was interrupted by the council recycling collection to a sound gong bath in the country's noisiest city, from Cornwall to Scotland. She discovers prisoners finding solace in child's pose; children finding expression in dancer pose, and dancers sitting bendily in cobbler's pose. Her feet start to hurt and she realizes that yoga is a current of shared experience that runs quietly through British society, through Middle England to the nation's extremes from Newcastle to Nottingham, East Anglia to West Kilbride, she untangles the Ashtanga from the Kundalini, the Sanskrit from the whimsical new-age, and finds the ways that yoga is rebuilding communities and lives - and her own wobbling body.
Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, Gowing evokes the characters and communities she meets along a fascinating journey in a celebration of ancient wisdom solving modern-day problems and the exultation of finally mastering the Crow.
About the author
Press reviews"Beautifully written. great observations" - Jo Good (Radio London)
Funny and fascinating
Elizabeth peppers her narrative with quirky facts. Did you know, for example, that after being taught Iyengar Yoga, Yehudi Menuhin once conducted Beethoven’s 5th Symphony while standing on his head, directing the orchestra with his feet?
During the course of her explorations, the author finds herself in some ‘interesting’ situations. How would you react to this instruction issued before a session of Yoga Nidra in Stroud?
‘If you want the toilet, I do really urge you to use the back garden…I honestly think that our golden stream is one of the offerings that we can make to Mother Earth...’
How would you feel sampling Dog Yoga (Doga) in Shoreditch?
‘…A dozen people stood in Warrior II trying to modify their breathing while their dogs humped other yoginis, peed in the middle of the room or otherwise ran amok.’
Elizabeth takes it all in her stride (stretch?) and is always respectful of those she meets. I warmed to her self-deprecating humour and readiness to acknowledge when pre-conceived ideas were dispelled. No mere observer, hers is a very personal learning journey and the book is all the richer for it.
The overwhelming sense I took away from this book were the positive experiences (physical, emotional, spiritual and practical) that individuals and communities, young and old, rich and poor, able-bodied and infirm, gain from their engagement with this multi-faceted, timeless discipline.
(Posted on 09/07/2019)
Chapter 2: The village hall, Port Isaac
Chapter 3: Spirit level - Stand-upPaddleboard yoga in Nottingham
Chapter 4: Balance on Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire
Chapter 5: Lululemon, Edinburgh
Chapter 6: Wiped - hot yoga and belonging in Brighton
Chapter 7: Doing time - yoga in prison, Surrey
Chapter 8: Smart cafés with mismatched chairs - yoga with asylum seekers in London
Chapter 9: Yoga for people living with Parkinson's, West Kilbride
Chapter 10: Upwardly mobile -aerial yoga in Godalming
Chapter 11: Downward-facing Doga - yoga with your dog in Shoreditch
Chapter 12: PraiseMoves, a 'Christian alternative to yoga' in Peterborough
Chapter 13: Kundalini - awakening the coiled serpent of the Cotswolds
Chapter 14: Britain's noisiest city - a sound bath in Newcastle
Chapter 15: Iyengar yoga, Maida Vale, London
Chapter 16: Yoga nidra, Stroud
Chapter 17: Children's yoga,Slough
Chapter 18: Brahma Kumaris on the Isle of Man
Chapter 19: Pranayama, Liverpool
Chapter 20: Laughter yoga, Blackpool
Chapter 21: The Mandala Yoga Ashram, Carmarthenshire
Chapter 22: In my end is my beginning - Yin yoga in Newquay