Unlikely Positions

by Elizabeth Gowing

Unlikely Positions

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About this book

Elizabeth Gowing is not a likely yogini. She is too fond of chocolate 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. In schools and hospitals, from Newcastle to Nottingham, Wales 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

Elizabeth Gowing has been practising yoga for twelve years but is still not a likely yogini. She is too fond of chocolate and To-do lists, and sometimes falls over on her mat. She has done yoga in a cramped carriage on the Trans-Siberian railway, on a jetty off the Montenegrin coast, in a Kosovan house fortified against blood feuds and as an ice-breaker with a suspicious landlady in Cuba.
As a speaker for groups in the UK she has travelled to over 180 groups around Britain, and the diversity of the communities she has encountered - and the similarity in the ways in which all are working to find meaningful connections - inspired her to take this yoga tour round Britain.
This is her fifth travel book; she is also a winner of the Bradt/ Independent on Sunday travel writing competition (2014) and an established voice in quirky travel narratives. She also appears regularly on BBC Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent.

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Chapter 1: Where YouTube can't take you
Chapter 2: The village hall, Port Isaac
Chapter 3: Spirit level: SUPaddleboard yoga in Nottingham
Chapter 4: Balance on Brimham Rocks, Yorkshire
Chapter 5: Lululemon - Edinburgh
Chapter 6: Wiped: hot yoga in Brighton
Chapter 7: Doing time; yoga in prison - London
Chapter 8: Journeys to peace: yoga with asylum seekers in London
Chapter 9: Yoga for people living with Parkinsons, West Kilbride
Chapter 10: Upwardly mobile - aerial yoga in Godalming
Chapter 11: Downward-facing Doga - yoga with your dog in London
Chapter 12: PraiseMoves, a Christian alternative to yoga - Cambridgeshire
Chapter 13: Kundalini - awakening the coiled serpent of Cirencester
Chapter 14: Britain's noisiest city - a sound bath in Newcastle
Chapter 15: Iyengar yoga - Maida Vale, London
Chapter 16: Womb yoga -¬ Stroud
Chapter 17: Children's yoga - Slough
Chapter 18: Pranayama - Liverpool
Chapter 19: Laughter yoga - Blackpool
Chapter 20: Brahma Kumaris on the Isle of Man
Chapter 21: the Mandala Ashram, Wales
Chapter 22: In my end is my beginning