Yoga at the Serpentine
Yoga fulfils Serpentine artist's vision in aid of Mind charity. By Lucy Edge
When Serpentine Pavilion artist Junya Ishigami described his work as “a cave-like space for contemplation” he probably didn’t expect to be taken literally.
But that’s exactly what happened when YogaClicks (yogaclicks.com) and Zephyr Wildman (zephyryoga.com) joined forces to put on a yoga and meditation class under his slate roof installation in London’s Hyde Park. As a fund raiser for the charity Mind, we envisaged the class as a celebration of yoga and meditation for stress and anxiety, dedicating it to those suffering from mental health issues, and those that love and care for them.
With the kind permission of the Serpentine Galleries, at 8am in the cold but brilliant morning sunshine of Kensington Gardens, we got to it. Students came from near and far – one keen yogi traveling all the way from Dublin to join us.
Focusing the class on practical tools for times of stress and anxiety, Wildman began with an explanation of RAIN – a simple practice that helps you, at any given point, (R) recognise what’s going on, (A) allow yourself some breathing space, (I) investigate what’s happening in your mind and body and take the steps to (N) nurture yourself.
Acknowledging the work of Buddhist psychologist Tara Brach (whose new book is listed in our OM Books section this month), Wildman explained to the class: “We have to be our own friend. To approach ourselves the same way we approach a friend who is struggling. To a friend we say…’I see you. I’m right here with you. Your pain and suffering matter to me. I’m not leaving you.’” As she wisely reminded us, we have to learn to do the same thing for ourselves: to hold ourselves in a loving and kind presence and give ourselves the opportunity to experience our own capacity for love and belonging; to connect to the light within us – the light that radiates out the truth of love.
The practice of RAIN is most powerful when it is combined with movement. As any experienced yogi knows, when we practice we start to understand that moving our body changes our psychology – we begin to experience that link, and we get in touch with our life force – that Pranic experience – the vitality within.
So our teacher gave us some simple asana, or postures, to help us start to change our psychology. These postures included Virasana (Hero pose), where we were invited to feel, in the palm of our hands, a sense of presence, as if we were holding a tender gift. Malasana (Garland pose) helped us to connect to the spirit of the earth – to feel stable and grounded, but also to let go both metaphorically and physically – surrendering and releasing. In Tarsana (Butterfly pose variation), as we humbly bowed our heads and cradled the tops of our own feet, we honoured both the Hindu and Buddha goddess of compassion and protection, and everything we have walked through in our own lives.
“Your challenges, pain and suffering have been invaluable in teaching you how to skilfully navigate this life,” said Wildman. “And through this experience and wisdom you are able to offer it to others – giving support and kindness and creating a sense of safety and belonging.” Namaste to that.
Lucy Edge is the founder of YogaClicks and author of Yoga School Dropout (yogaclicks.com)
MALA FOR MIND
The class raised several hundred pounds for Mind, and a fund-raising mala bracelet, specially designed by YogaClicks, is on sale now to raise more money for this vital charity. To purchase the Mind fund-raising mala bracelet visit: yogaclicks.com