Be An Original (And Don’t Be A Dick…)

I’m feeling rebellious, inspired and incredibly energised by life right now.

I feel electric.

I love how creative I am. 

I am creative.

I can affirm that with absolute certainty, needing no reinforcement, praise or encouragement.

When you are creative (and you are, too, we all are). And when you have something original to show to the world (you do, we all do). It’s a pretty cool thing if you can find the courage inherent in ‘putting it out there’ in an effort to reach others. In service to others, to inspire others, or… hell, to earn yourself a living doing something you were born to do.

But it can have its downsides too. 

When you truly are in touch with your creativity, when you are stepping up to be YOU… what I notice is that other people don’t necessarily like it too much.

Some people…

*whispers* …Some people will want what you have…

And they want it so very much, so desperately,

that they will try and take it for themselves.

Sometimes they will take only a breadcrumb at a time. Barely noticeable, at first.

Others will swoop toward you and gather up great big greedy armfuls of you without a backward glance.

I know, I know, it’s shocking, right? But it is true.

It’s something that happens in my world more and more. And I am not alone. 

Sometimes it’s just plain old creepy…

Having invested hugely in myself in a variety of ways in recent years I am not too keen on hacking off huge parts of myself to hand to others on a silver platter to feast on in gay abandon… but what can you do… when you’re feeling inspired, energised, and electric, some people just really want a piece of you for themselves.

Some of this happens unconsciously, and it can be quite easy as the creator of something to let that slide on by.

Other times it’s more blatant. Huge chunks of text copied and pasted from your website to theirs. Uncredited. Classes copied, from the intention to the music to that thing you said about Tiger penises. Haircuts, clothing choices, the way you have chosen to present your ideas. Some feel it all is fair game. Artwork, born of your own very personal relationship to yourself and the world. Creations that huge money, time, creativity and love was poured into… just copied. Blatantly. Often badly. And passed off as someone else’s original idea.

It can feel exhausting.

I’ll be honest, sometimes it feels quite threatening.

Once or twice, for me, it’s been just plain old creepy.

But what can you do? I can’t build an electric fence around myself and hammer a sign on my head that says ‘Danger. High Voltage’. Or can I?

Well, until I decide on that, I will say it again.

I AM CREATIVE.

Hey, if you want to congratulate me on my art or my words or my dress sense that’s lovely. Thank you very much. And if you disagree and think I’m dull, uninspiring and flat then… excellent.

Your opinion will unroot my feet from solid ground no more than the feather from a baby sparrow floating from the heavens to land on my shoulder. How sweet. *Brushes feather off, picks it up, and sticks it on a canvas depicting neon sparrows exploring a supernova explosion*.

If you think that sounds arrogant. Well, it is, a bit! We all need a healthy amount of narcissism to feel pride, hold self-esteem and realise our own self worth. That I can hold my head up so high and say ‘I am creative’ is hugely important to where I am in my relationship to myself. I would not have been able to shout it loud and proud a year ago.

Through my adult life, what I do with my creativity has more regularly private than public. Be it playing, painting, building, photographing, decorating, writing or decapitating dolls.  None of you (unless you’re related to me, my neighbour or knew me well 20 years ago) have heard me play the flute. But I do it every day. Creating is not about the other. It is about exploring and expressing my feelings experiences and ideas, filtered through my own completely unique brain… 

To put some of what I create out into the world since becoming a yoga teacher has been rewarding. I am proud that what I have created is both authentic as a reflection of my inner and outer relationship to the universe and in being unlike what is most commonly seen in how yoga is presented… particularly online. 

I don’t strive for originality, I strive to be me. Originality is what comes from that…

Originality… It’s a terrific thing.

To be original, to hope to be… it can be a bitch. It can feel impossible, unreachable, when we’re out of whack with our own potency. Not sure who we are. What we want. What we think.

Who we are.
What we want.
What we think.

They sound like pretty basic elements in experiencing a human life.

But what we want,
what we think
who we are…

for many, they are lost. Lost in the noise. In the contractions in body and mind that they are not even aware exist, so familiar are they to their experience of what life can be. Comparing, despairing and searching for something, anything, to temporarily ease an uncomfortable sense that something is wrong.

All that is left is to spin around in a metaphorical blindfold with a shaky, pointing finger… a kind of  existential spin the bottle… and to land on someone who seems to own some semblance of what you perceive that you should want, think, and be and think ‘I’ll take that one. For me’.

Life is noisy.

We’re all continually taking in stimuli from our environments… how things look, what we hear, what lights us up, how people react, what turns us off… we take inspiration from nature and television and music videos and art and from other people we see who are cool and interesting, charismatic, funny, magical or strong …

Whether conscious or unconscious we take on aspects of what others say, think, do, create…

Last week, my own teacher, Carolyn, taught an incredible Kundalini Global class where we did a yoga series called ‘Be An Original’ and Carolyn explored the idea of what it means to be you. Your true, authentic, human self.

It struck a chord for me.

I realised how much that I do it too, unconsciously taking without doing the work to make it energetically elegant. And I’ve taken myself on in this. I would encourage you to do the same.

Take Carolyn, I’ve done pretty much all of her trainings.  And I would do them all again. She’s brilliant. Hilarious, exceptionally clever, unique in her thinking and extremely charismatic. She explains things in such a creative, distinctive and authoritative way…

It has been on a regular basis that I use words, idioms and ideas that I would NEVER have considered using before meeting Carolyn, because I have taken them from her… and it’s just not on.

I wouldn’t dream, ever, of stealing Carolyn’s written words, artwork or class plans. But both consciously and unconsciously I have been guilty of stepping beyond ‘inspired by’ into ‘taken from’ in how I teach.

It’s a shitty thing to do.

You could say it is hard to avoid copying. But it is not.

It is not hard to avoid copying. Just don’t do it.

Whilst it’s not hard to avoid copying other people, it’s really easy to not bother doing the work inherent in being yourself. Because it really is work.

It is so easy not to reflect on what someone has said, written, created … and consider how that can be translated into your own universe, for your people, through you, your lens, your lived experience.

But when you do that part, that’s when the magic happens.

Whilst we can be inspired by those we look up to or who hold positions we see as hierarchically above us in realms in which we walk, to be able to consolidate and percolate and really learn from them, to be able to make manifest what they have taught to us, to transform the ideas they shared, ideas that lit us up, into something that truly serves us and others, we have to run them through our own internal computer system and turn them into something new…

And that can take time, patience and real skill. Be patient with yourself. And don’t rush it. Focus on becoming you and the percolation will happen along the way.

Of course we are all influenced by things outside of ourselves, be they the moon or Harry Styles’ penchant for amazing trousers (something that inspires me, endlessly). But don’t be a dick.

If you buy some pastel flares, Harry Styles won’t care. Probably. Unless you’re Zayn Malik. But if you steal someone’s artwork, when the original was born of 15k of therapy, some very late nights and sixteen hours of introspection, it’s just not cool. Stop it. Be you.

It’s not always easy to stay ‘true to you’… but nothing truly magical and potent is easy.

You’re never going to find yourself the spaces between the ctl+c  and ctl+v commands on your keyboard. Try the whole qwerty spectrum instead.


Fingertip Fragility and What a Yoga Teacher ‘Should’ Be Like…

Lovely humans

I spent last weekend on a campsite in Ditchling on a retreat for yoga teachers. It was very cool. I came back with extremely sore thighs from the potent combination of contorted-tent-bound-sleeping-positions on an ever-deflating-airbed, lots of yoga and some accidentally-treacherous-hill-walking. I also arrived home with a pretty deep cut on my finger that made both Gyan Mudra and the touch ID on my apple devices tricky to navigate (I’m entirely sure that it was the touch ID that caused me the greatest amount of suffering, make of that what you will). I should not be trusted with sharp knives. Not for a moment.

Beyond that the thing I came back with was a massive smile, born of laughing SO MUCH for 3 days that even in writing this, a week on, moments are flooding back to me causing me to pause my typing and smile like a Cheshire Cat.

Since arriving home I have been thrown right into the centre of the ‘back-to-school’ whirlwind. I’m well over a decade into this school thing now as a parent, you’d think I’d be a bit more organised. On it. Prepared. But nope.

No one has uniform, no one has appropriate hair and no one has done a single piece of homework. Don’t even get me started on name labels. I have no labels but I have nothing to label yet so no space to worry about that. I believe I am attached to the chaos of allowing it to come down to the wire in being ready (or not). We will get there. We always do.

In the meantime my middle child has their 10th birthday and that feels FAR more important. I have extremely rare Japanese import toys to track down so he is not left bitterly disappointed on the day. I have ultra-specific cakes to bake and Pokemon to craft from fondant icing. I have the joy of decorating for a birthday breakfast. I adore all of this stuff and dread the day my children no longer want it all. . .

Domesticity aside I have also been reflecting a lot on being a yoga teacher. It’s still something new to me. A label, a role, a position I have occupied, that I am playing with in terms of how it sits, how it fits, what it means…

When I say ‘yoga teacher’ what do you see? 

What do you think a yoga teacher should be like?

What words come to mind?

What should they look like?

How should they dress?

What should they eat?

What should they talk about?

What does their house smell like?

Are they allowed to be disorganised? Messy? Angry? Upset?

How do their children behave?

Do they have sex?

Do they swear?

Do they recycle? Do they exude health and vitality? Are they wise?

Should they drink diet coke? Should they eat Mars bars? Are they allowed to smoke? 

Do you have expectations of them ‘walking the walk’ in ways you are consciously aware of?

If you discovered your yoga teacher had a raging cocaine habit and did tequila shots every weekend would it shock you? Would you stop going to class? Would they no longer deserve…?

It is a subject that I find really interesting. Important.

Since training as a teacher I have, personally, put down so many of the ‘shoulds’ that I had been unconsciously carrying around about what a yoga teacher should be.

I have no raging cocaine habit and am still tee-total but I’m human. Very human.

My house is messy. Sometimes I eat junk. My level of caffeine intake needs attention right now, for sure. And, in terms of clothes, my leopard print addiction is back. Big time.

I don’t have huge affection for the word, but I am more authentic. More me. And from there I feel, I believe, I am a better teacher than I ever could have been a few years ago when coffee was the devil and my sweat smelled like sandalwood.

Despite this, I am aware that if I were observing myself as a teacher through the eyes of past me I would consider myself as falling short in a huge number of ways.

‘She’s not spiritual enough!’ Might be the first judgement that past me would make of myself now.

Spiritual. 

Enough. 

Big words. Interesting words.

And perhaps they are true.

Some may come across me, my classes, and think like this.

It may never occur to others. 

It is a topic that exists concurrently with an uprising of opposition to yoga as a physical practise in the west, with judgements made on those who are perceived not to respect the roots of yoga and who limit the practise to only one of Patanjali’s 8 limbs.

The cultural appropriation of yoga and the violation on India and Indians in terms of invisibility and misrepresentation is very real and hugely important. But as a white, western, practitioner, being an ally, being aware of the role of power and the legacies of imperialism, has absolutely nothing to do with ‘appearing’ spiritual in any way. Indeed, to practise yoga, to live with conscious awareness of the commitment that is, is a messy, human, tricky, life-long experience. And one I believe I am living.

My walking the walk just doesn’t look how I thought it ‘should’. And perhaps not how you think it should either. And that’s no issue, for me, at all.

I have, at times, considered if I should stop using the word yoga. In many ways it would make life more simple. But I do practise yoga. I do. Imperfectly, messily, getting many things ‘wrong’…

For now it is a label I stick with: yoga teacher. With all of the projections, assumptions and very real commitment to the practise that involves.

Yoga Practise not Yoga Perfect…

It’s not that I don’t get it. The ‘shoulds’ can be lovely, alluring, give us vitality, and for many they are an authentic aspect of their practise.

I changed so much when I started, and stuck with, a Kundalini yoga practise. To an extent where some who are close to me found it baffling and, I believe, unsettling too.

Much of this was material… how I dressed (less synthetic leopard print and more white linen), how I ate (less processed vegan substitutes and more organic vegetables) what I listened to (less obscure 90s indie music and much more mantra)… I could go on and on.

Change came too in how I lived my life more generally. This wasn’t a negative experience. I slept better. The ‘dreaded’ cold showers really did make me feel amazing. Generally, over time, I found myself kinder and softer.

Whilst I can look back now and see the enormous amount of what many would label as spiritual bypassing that I did in these years, the practise of not being reactive, of ‘recognising that the other person as you’ and grappling with the concept of those people you find most tricky being your greatest teachers… it did have an impact on how I moved in the world, and in a positive way.

In a general sense, the practise had helped me to realise that I could change how I feel. And that had, for sure, the potential to awaken a sense of agency. But I did not see nor feel agency. Not at all. I attached so much to the transformation to forces/people outside of myself that my own role in how yoga had helped me was entirely lost to me.

I (unconsciously) believed I was making change for the ‘other’ rather than for myself… and that once I knew about the ability to make that change, if I chose not to (if my neurosis became more important than my sadhana) I would be punished.

If not by an outside force then certainly by myself.

Please know I am not making any assumption that others have the same experience with their yoga practise. I talk only about what happened for me.

Over the past 18 months I’ve changed just as much again.

Am I now a spiritual person? Was I back then? Has that changed with the clothes or the diet or the way I present myself externally to the world?

I could tell you what I believe, but it feels entirely unnecessary.

I could look at any one of you, reading this, and make an assumption on if you were ‘spiritual’ or not based on some imaginary criteria that I, at the moment I exist within as I make the judgement, bring to mind. But what does that achieve? Nothing.

I don’t care if someone is, or considers themselves, spiritual or not.

I care about kindness, I care about generosity, I care about helping others and I hope to be of some service in that… however imperfectly than manifests.

I am drawn to humanity, to those who show up as their messy (or extremely elegant) selves and who, from there, make me think, make me laugh, make me question where I am not as open minded as I could be…

I love humans. I really do. Being human, accepting and embracing my humanity, has really awoken a love and compassion in me that my previous commitment to being the ‘perfect’ yogi never came close to allowing.

If you have any thoughts on what you think a yoga teacher should do/be/think/exude… I’d really love to hear them You can leave a comment or email me. . .

Sending love

Sara-Jayne

Swaying to stillness and the exquisite bliss of longing for…

Lovely humans,

I’ve been caught up in longing.

Longing – a “yearning, eager desire or craving,” It comes from the old English langung  a “…weariness, sadness, dejection…” but no definition gets it quite right, for me.

To sit in longing is an interesting space.

Longing for someone is entirely different to ‘missing’  them, in my awareness.

We ‘miss’ with our mind. Longing, it seems, is an experience that encompasses the entirety of our being.

I’ve been on a journey with being able to notice and name emotions. To name longing took time, “perhaps this is sadness?”  “feeling weak?”  “A curious and quite lovely type of pain?!” But knowing, in my reflection, it was something far more than my words managed to touch.

I like longing. Is that a strange statement to make? I believe that longing comes from an encounter with something magical enough that this (to me, peculiarly beautiful) emotion is evoked.

The universe we exist in places endless expectation on us to find and satisfy our hungers and desires as instantaneously as we possibly can. That the outcome is never, in the least bit, satisfying is what keeps us in a loop of consumption… be that of sugar, carbs, porn, fast-fashion or whatever lands on the doorstep in one of those too-familiar brown cardboard Amazon parcels.

Perhaps, I reflected, that is why to sit still, with longing, feels so unusual. So welcome. 

I find that sitting with longing, which can be considered a pretty melancholy emotion, is extremely lovely.

But why? Really? Can it be as simple as it being so at odds with a fast-paced, ever-scrolling, society that seeks reassurance from ‘buy now’ buttons and navigating Porn Hub with a well-trained thumb?

My love of longing feels like more than that. It feels like connecting to an entire new universe.

Swaying to stillness…

To long for something is to feel its lack. And to exist with longing is not easy.

In the world of yoga it seems that many who come to the mat have an awareness of a certain, dark, untouchable space… you could call it a void… that exists in us. Perhaps the awareness comes from some experience of sensing that space and becoming curious about what it is, and where it could lead us. Down the rabbit hole…

I mention this as, for me, there is a connection between that space and the feeling of longing.

We have a certain posture that we work with in Kundalini Global yoga classes… to my knowledge the posture has no name… born of ‘neck rolls’… it involves a gentle swaying from side to side. I believe it is the brain-child of Carolyn Cowan. If it is not, then that is certainly where my experience with the posture began. And where I fell head over heals in love with it. I share it here because it is what truly awoke this longing in me… and what I turn to when I want to sit with it once more.

You could try it if you haven’t… we sit cross legged, spine straight, hands on the knees.

The breath is gentle. Quiet. We inhale in the centre and exhale as we begin to sway. Move to the left first. Ear moving down toward the shoulder, swaying gently to the left, coming back up to gently inhale, then exhaling and gently swaying, ear toward shoulder, to the right.

Gradually, with each breath, each exhale, moving a tiny bit lower.  As we slowly descend the arms can come to the side, on the floor either side of us, to offer support. Rocking slowly, slowly, lower and lower. We take just as much time to descend as to slowly come back. I’d start with 3 minutes… so 90 seconds to descend as you sway, and 90 to come back slowly to tall and straight.

And then, not lying back as we commonly do after a posture, just sit in stillness. Really soft in the body. And notice…

What Carolyn brought my awareness to is a pulse. A pulse in the spinal fluid. It is called the lumbar cerebrospinal fluid pulse. And the rhythmic, swaying, motion of the posture allows us quickly, gently, to being able to tune into it. I find my body still sways a little with the pulse. So gently it is like being rocked in the weightless arms of an angel.

Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear, colourless body fluid found within the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord of all vertebrates. When we are entirely present and still and when we are landed in our bodies, we may be able to become aware of this pulse. When we do, when we can, it is, or has been for me, an experience of myself that is otherworldly in its gentleness, in its perfection. I do not use the word perfect often but it really is. Perfect bliss.

Yet. Yet. In this perfect bliss I seem always to find a paradoxical longing. An ache.

How is this possible? To be entirely accepting of the moment, blissful, and yet the experience is one where longing is the word… Before gentle. Before calm. Before present. The only word I may place before longing is this one… Divine.

Carolyn teaches that the lumbar cerebrospinal fluid pulse is the Divine within the body.

How beautiful is that?

To me it feels exactly right.

Utter Perfection

The stillness that comes from the posture I describe above leaves me sitting with an emotion that feels so much more than ‘happy’. It is an aching, longing, blissful pull that feels like … a calling?!? Words. Words. Sometimes they fail.

Whatever the words are, I’ve felt this bliss before. Along with its accompanying, paradoxical, ache. One instance in-particular springs to mind, owing to how entirely unremarkable the moment was that it came. At least from the outside…

It was after my usual clockwise run around my local park on an Autumnal evening last year. It came as I walked home through an extremely ‘rough’ area of my city as the sun set. My trainers had rubbed my feet and my hair was wet with sweat. Cars passed. People shouted between windows in the flats lining the street and kids wove around me on scooters, giggling. The sky was beautiful. Purple, pink and orange. A huge flock of geese flew noisily overhead. Of course, after my run, I was flooded with endorphins. But nothing was unfamiliar. Nothing was noteworthy. Yet, all of a sudden, I had this sense come over me. I stopped still and looked up.

Utter perfection. Utter perfection in every cell of my body and… again, that deep deep longing.

It is so lovely when we can have such moments and consciously think ‘I will not forget this moment.’  And we don’t.

…something you cannot explain or know

When reflecting on this sense of present longing I, of course, needed to research, to dig into it and see what others may have taken such a feeling and experience to be or to mean.

In my reading I came across a word I like. It’s a German word: “Sehnsucht.’’

The dictionary tells us that ‘‘sehnsucht’’ is an “intense, mostly bittersweet longing for something remote or unattainable that would make life more complete”. Like a really intense yet infantile crush, then? Where you imagine complete perfection and bliss would come to all aspects of life with the first, passionate kiss? No. Not that. The translations of this word are tricky in English, but roughly it is, yes, a longing, but no, not like a crush, it is a deep yearning for something that you cannot ever explain or know.

I love to find a word that feels in alignment with the incommunicable. Not perfect. But close.

A yearning for something we cannot explain or know. Perhaps that is a definition not only of sehnsucht but of an aspect of devotion. Of a longing for the divine without. The external divine of our awareness. Whatever, whoever, that is. I think it is that. And I think it is a beautiful thing.

If I told 99% of the people in my real life that I was sitting in stillness with a yearning for God they would think I had lost the plot. . . but that is what I have come to.

I’ve been reading a lot about St. Augustine. I cannot go into his life here but do look him up. Quite a character. I have come to believe he was probably neurodivergent in some way. We share the same birthday. I did think once, ‘I hope we share little else…’ But of course we do. And not only this longing, this “Sehnsucht.” Although this is an aspect of human existence I am certain that we both have touched.

Holy longing?

In  Augustine’s sixth homily in his Homilies on 1, John states that a distinctive quality of Christian living is to learn to live into our longing:

“The whole life of the good Christian is a holy longing. What you long for, as yet you do not see; but longing makes in you room that shall be filled, when that which you are to see shall come.”

It’s such a curious thing. I love seeing an empty room inside me. A space. In Augustine’s thinking it is as if we are to be trained by longing. Not an arbitrary longing for our fuck buddy or a pair of cheap trainers. But by a holy longing.

A holy longing that creates a space, a ‘room that shall be filled’. I do not know if I want it to be filled. But I like sitting in that room and waiting in stillness. I like that a lot.

Most of us never sit in it.

So often, through a vast array of means and methods – returning to the list above of fast-food, fast-sex, fast-fashion – we work to soothe ourselves with anything other than… other than what? Other than the Divine.

I do not think these things are ‘bad.’ If we can be present to any moment, any experience, even a show we consume on Netflix or a cheap glazed doughnut… they can all be Divine.

Perhaps some aspect of longing comes when we forget the giver. Whatever or whoever we imagine that to be.

I believe that I have no satisfying way of ending this post for you. Perhaps I want to leave you in longing for an answer that may never come.

That is where I find myself. Happily.

I still sit, and sit still, in longing. And yes, I move between the experience of presence in it and seeking understanding of what it is.

I have come to realise that to sit in this longing is excellent for giving birth to artistic expression.

But I also reflect that, to go back to the ‘void’ inside that many in yoga, in ‘spiritual’ circles, seem to have become aware of in some way,  whatever the thing is that we believe to be a missing part of ourselves… perhaps is not a space that needs to be filled but one that is perfection as it is. If we can sit with it, in it. 

The longing for…

I don’t feel it needs to be named. 

What happens when you stop giving your power away? A Barbie doll massacre, a neon crucifix and gold leaf flakes over all of my life forevermore…

Lovely humans

I am feeling especially creative. As if I could transform my universe with nothing but an orange felt tip pen and my fertile imagination. As if my fingers leak glitter, birdsong and gold leaf flakes in every moment I am forced to be present to a task that does not lend itself, naturally, to creative expression.

Perhaps I can assign the joy this brings outside of myself to the full moon, to a teacher, or to the fascinating book I am reading by an extremely clever man. I find that I do not want to do those things, though. And that feels like progress.

I’m working on not giving my power away. On noticing when I do. The more I do this, I find, the more creative I feel. The more I have to give. The more clarity I find in what it is that I should channel my energy into. 

Becoming Dangerous…

The less power we give away the more dangerous we become. It is a practise of summoning our own salvation. And we become dangerous to the ‘shoulds’, to the expectations, to the systems that we exist within that do not want us to know how powerful we are when we can bear to be present enough to notice all that we give away.

Giving our power away… we all do it. Mostly unconsciously. When we allow something ‘they’ said, how ‘they’ looked at us, feeling left out, something horrid (I find, often about animals or children) that we read in the news… there are a million things I could list… but when we allow these things to tarnish any moment… to take us out of presence, to create contractions in our bodies and make our thinking short and fast… this is giving away our power. Our potency.

I have been robust in my insistence that my power should not be my own. Eyes darting around constantly, frantically, for anyone who will take it off my hands when I become aware that I have such a commodity in any aspect of my self.

At least now I am aware.

Something that has enriched my life enormously over the past 18 months, since I began teaching Kundalini Global, is to observe how my creativity inspires the other. The energetic exchange this facilitates is phenomenal. I find, again and again, that being aware of any creative endeavour I played a part in inspiring, in turn, inspires me a thousand-fold. Which, perhaps, inspires something else in another again…

I was touched to receive something in the post this week that was inspired by a practise from one of my classes. Touched is an interesting word isn’t it? It is for me, as I have always said I don’t like being touched. Perhaps I do. The etymology of the word ‘touch’ is telling in this… from the old French tochier which meant “to touch, hit, knock; mention, deal with” and from Vulgar Latin *toccare “to knock, strike” as a bell (source also of Spanish tocar, Italian toccare). I particularly like the concept of being ‘touched’ to be like a bell being struck. That feels correct, to me.

Anyway, I digress (something I am good at…) this post, this artwork that landed on my doormat at a moment when it could not have been more welcome, it inspired me.

It inspired me musically. In terms of picking up my flute. Which I have fallen back in love with after years of neglect. And in terms of finding myself in need of the comfort and inspiration of the music I love.

These little earthquakes…

I’ve written before about my love for the utterly fabulous Tori Amos. Next year her debut album, Little Earthquakes, my favourite album of all time, turns 30. This week, as I played the record on repeat, I smiled as I realised that it never, ever, stops unfurling for me. The emotion it releases, the ways in which she inspires, the pain it brings… it moves with me. It’s like every song speaks to me in the moment, whether than moment exists within the bright yellow bedroom walls of my teenage years, adorned with stencilled stars and moons, carpet burnt by incense sticks as I sit on the floor applying black kohl liner badly, or as it blasts out from an Alexa in my airy kitchen as I cook a meal for my children, patio doors open to the summer heat…

I love this album with every fibre of my being. And I decided this week that I need to create something from this love.

This led to a whole host of incredibly fun and inspiring moments, and the world’s most peculiar ever Amazon order.

And this is how, last night, I found myself massacring a ‘Made to Move’ Barbie with a breadknife by candlelight whilst covered in gold leaf flakes.

My children think this is fabulous.

I know… I know…


Why do we, crucify ourselves, every day?

I started, what is to become a bigger project, by creating something inspired by the first track on Little Earthquakes. A song called Crucify.

You can listen to it. I will embed a YouTube video here, although I fully recommend you check out the remastered version via Spotify or similar on good speakers to feel it fully. 

Crucify is a song about abandoning ourselves. Yes… about giving our power away.

It’s a song that makes me sad and empowered in equal measure. I must have listened to it 100 times this week. As I wrote not too long ago in an Instagram post, sad feelings evoked by music are pleasurable to us when sadness is perceived as non-threatening, when listening comes with psychological benefits such as emotional regulation and when the sad songs bring recollection of/reflection on past events that bring feelings of empathy.

I believe this to be true when I look at my relationship to Crucify. It evokes empathy for me. For my self. It evokes other emotions too. Rage, fear… but in a safe way. A way that facilitates release.

And if that release comes with the death of a Barbie doll? Well, I don’t judge myself. I’ve given up on that too.

You really can feel Tori’s rage in the piano in this. And her lyrics, as always, are incredible. Incredible.

Tori’s father was a preacher and has recounted how, when her father held prayer meetings she masturbated upstairs. Crucifiy is, I suppose, about freedom from the religious dogma imposed by her family and in society. Freedom that she looked for by abandoning herself on the ‘dirty streets’ and beneath ‘dirty sheets’ but ultimately found only within herself.

If you’re easily offended you may not want to see what I created. I don’t make such things for anyone else. I just, on occasion, find I have to make manifest how I feel in the form of something that makes me horrified, and hysterical (in the positive way) in equal measure.

Here it is, if you would like to see… it’s probably not finished. I am not too good with endings because they make me cry and crying… let’s just say me and crying have work to do.



I hope you all have a glorious day… week… month… life… until we meet again.

Sara-Jayne

 

Dancing Star Issue 2: Out Now

Hello lovely humans

I’m really excited today that, finally, my second issue of Dancing Star is now LIVE.

This issue got so long that I had to have it perfect bound so, really, it’s more like a short book! It smells delicious. Dancing Star is truly a passion project for me and I am really proud of this issue. Immeasurably so.

There is something so special about how the issue is sent off via the digital cloud, out into the universe and then, in a number of days she will arrive back, packed neatly in a box, to my door. No longer digital but REAL in the IRL world. It’s a magical process. One I love. I am so grateful of your support with this project.

When I read through the issue after it was completed, only then did I truly notice that I return often, within the pages, to the history of my own practise with Kundalini Yoga. This was not my intention but it seems that the universe conspired to make it so. I am good with that. I needed some of this out in the world. Expunged. It is, right now, a time of huge reflection. Not just for me, for many.

It’s 2021. The past year, more, has been a challenge. I sit now and recall all I have come to learn. I can reflect, too,  on all I have let go. What do I want to keep from lockdown? Much, is the answer. The stillness I found for myself. The therapy I took on again, finally. The connections I have made… the connections..! They are a huge aspect of what has been most welcome.

I feel utterly delighted that some of those connections have agreed to contribute to this issue. Before you check it out, I want to acknowledge and say thank you to them…  to Floria, Hannah, Sofia and Lisa who have shared their voices in this issue. 

Here’s a little video of me packing up the first issues tonight:

With this issue of Dancing Star, you get 4 postcards, a bookmark and a handmade star badge or ornament. These stars are a little, imperfect, gift from me to you. Each with their own character, I will give your star a name and name tag before it is added to you package.

Here are some photos of the issue:

Issue Two

You can get your issue of Issue 2 of Dancing Star here:

What is inside:

Inside issue 2 of Dancing Star you will find:

Articles including:

Death and Yoga
Why Are We So Scared?

Divine Decay
By Floria Lundon

For Whom Do I Stand?
Yoga for Mental Health?

Death to Gurus? Divine Enlightenment
By Lisa Harrison

Mul Mantra 40 Day Journey
By Sofia K.

And more…

AN Amazing Comic called ‘A Kind World’
By Hannah Joseph.

Meditations

Facing The Challenge of Tomorrow
For The Negative Mind
To Hold The Crown Chakra

Postures, breaths, mudras… so much more.

Contributors:

Floria Lundon.

Hannah Joesph.

Sofia K.

Lisa Harrison.

and me!

If you have any questions about Dancing Star don’t hesitate to send me an email
or leave a comment on this post and I will get back to you.

Sending you loads of love. If you do get a copy I hope that you love it as much as I loved putting it together.

Sara-Jayne
xxxxx

Slowing Down Time, Bunny Rabbit Post-Run Euphoria And The Octopus in The Evolution of Intelligent Life

Hello lovely humans

Over the coming few weeks, as we get to the final two classes in the series of The Art of Changing Your Mind (you can still book on to these classes and access the final two live, recordings of the first 3 and all of the goodies that come with booking) I have some extra classes that you can join me in too.

I have my regular free classes, at 8am on Saturdays and Sundays. And, for the next two weeks, I am covering the Tuesday morning and Thursday morning, 10am, Kundalini Global classes for Carolyn Cowan.

Tuesdays: June 22nd and June 29th. 10am-11:15am. Via zoom. This is a 75 minute Kundalini Global class, that follows the same format as my own classes.

Thursdays: June 24th and July 1st. 10am-11:15am. Via zoom. A Core Abdominals and Pranayama class. This class, as an attendee, is my favourite class of the week. I plan to make it an excellent and fun experience for all who come along. It’s a little different to my usual offer, we will be doing breath practise, a series of core abdominal exercises, and a short yoga series. All in 75 minutes.

To book these classes you can go straight to Ribbon, who manage the bookings for Carolyn’s classes. Pick the class you would like to join and take it from there. If you have any questions about accessing these classes, or anything else, send me an email.

Book Classes On Ribbon (I am covering the next 4, between June 22nd – July 1st)

Can I stop time?

Do you ever consciously choose to move slower in one aspect of your life only to unconsciously speed things up in another? 

I take on less work, I do more and more exercise, I let go of needing a tidy house, I decide I ‘need’ to start a new social enterprise, read 27 books at once that hurt my brain and learn to play a new musical instrument. 

Right now I too often choose action over rest. There is so much cool stuff to be getting on with. But even when our action’ turns toward service, we still need rest. All of us. And lots of it. 

And it is a choice. To choose to listen to our bodies. And I know that. 

It is incredibly important to recognise when our entire being is in hyperdrive. If we find ourselves spinning 75 different styles of dinner plate sets, on a variety of distinctly unstable poles and for extended periods of time, not only does it put our physical being under huge amounts of stress (circus manipulation art is a sport in itself) but it also means, or very likely means, we’re missing out on the bliss of presence. 

Sometimes the reason we won’t slow down is because we can’t bear what we find when we do. We’ve all been through an incredibly challenging time of late and it can be really tough to sit in stillness and just …notice.

Notice how we really feel.

What we really need.

To stop.

To just be.

I believe yoga practise comes in here like a fairly godmother. To make your pause present. I have a good idea of where I would be, mentally, physically, without my yoga practise right now. And it is not a nice thought. . .

After every morning practise I spend time in child’s pose. There, I feel utterly safe. Utterly still. Grounded. It is so so lovely. ‘I need this’. Is all my mind says. And, when I move to uncurl as the first item on the never ending todo list creeps in to my thoughts, in a whisper, the voice adds, ‘I need more!’

It’s something I’ve never been that good at… take my approach to running over the years…

Endorphin addiction?

You may or may not know how much I adore running. I truly do. It’s my ultimate way to move anything that needs to move … be that my legs, a headache or some crippling self-doubt. And, whilst I love the run itself, what it is that I really cannot get enough of is the endorphins that come at the end.

It is only in the past 12 months that I have come to appreciate and relish the endorphins. Training to teach Kundalini Global gave me so much invaluable information on changing hormonal flow in the body… and this unlocked a whole new experience of my post run euphoria.

Yesterday I ran about 7km from my house. I had not been for a run for over a month owing to a minor surgery I had on my leg. With the stitches gone I pulled on my trainers, made my way to an abandoned railway track, and I ran. I was SO thrilled to be running. I ran entirely in a straight line.

Having not fully anticipated the (rather depressing) decrease in my level of anaerobic fitness, when I found myself quite qucikly 7km from home and somewhere in South Staffordshire, surrounded by fields, it occurred to me that, with no running juice left, the slow journey home may take some time. I stopped. I laughed. I lay back on some grass for five minutes. It started to rain. A bunny rabbit came and ran over my feet. No joke! The idea of a slow, long walk home, basking in the endorphins, in no rush at all, made me happy. Immeasurably happy. There was a time that would not have been so.

This was me, post-run, during the long walk home. Extreme runner’s high made so much more excellent by the calmness.

Endorphins reduce pain and boost pleasure by eating our stress hormones. They are released in response to effort.

Endorphins are important because they give us a feeling of well-being which can really aid us in being present and in feeling safe and allowing ourselves stillness. 

Endorphins were, on reflection, a large part of what kept me coming back to Kundalini Yoga classes when I first started them. Retrospectively, I can see that the pauses between endorphin releasing postures were what allowed me a new experience of them… of the endorphins. And also, from that, a new experience of myself.

Postures that release Endorphins include:

Planks
Stretch Pose
Gas pose with BofF (one of my faves!)

All of these postures, and many more in Kundalini, especially when held for 1-3 minutes, release a huge amount of endorphins.

What is special about Kundalini Global is that we always allow ourselves the experience of the endorphins flooding through the body at the end of an endorphin producing posture.

This is something I did not get from my running. I never paused. I ran and ran – straight back to my front door, jumped in the shower… then moved right on with my day.

To pause after releasing endorphins is absolutely vital. Our chance of stillness. Our change to experience, maybe for the first time, safety. The pause is also when the endorphins get to work in  eating all the stress hormones. As my mentor and teacher Carolyn Cowan says – if we do not take the rest, the pauses – it is like rolling a joint and then not smoking it! 

Other Minds, The Making of Biblical Womanhood and Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – What I Have Been Reading

My bibliophilia is at what may well be its peak. I have read so much over the past few months. Often up to 3 books a week. (Make of this what you will relative to how I opened this blog post with a need to slow down!)

Much of this has been for research for projects I am working on, but I work to one a week being entirely for pleasure.

3 such books that I have enjoyed hugely over the past month (I will not write reviews or even much of a description here, you can check them out and see if they sound like they are for you) are:

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli.

When I was at school I was pretty excellent at physics. But I did not fall in love with it. I wish I had, because my interest now is unyielding, but the foundations of my knowledge are shaky and uncertain. Books like this, that explain scientific theories in clear and compelling ways, are pure joy to me. I cannot believe that such a short book can teach so much. Truly recommend. As one review says ‘the entire universe in 79 pages’.

The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr.

‘How The Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth’. Women in/and the church has become something that I am compelled to delve more and more into. This is not owing, particularly, to anything specific to my own religious or spiritual belief systems, about which I do not write or share, but owing to the broader implications the way the church has thought of, treated, and influenced the lives of, women is something that was entirely unknown to me until the past few years. Knowing the little I do so far, it is a topic that I feel is of huge importance to all people attempting to navigate life, and shape change, in our patriarchal society. This book ties the ‘Biblical woman’ to clearly definable historical moments. It is an utterly fascinating book and topic.

Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

‘The Octopus and The Evolution of Intelligent Life’. The octopus appears to be having something of a moment in the popular imagination. Good. I love them. Adore them. I went to a bookshop to search for a gift for a friend and came across this book. Straight in to my basket it went. Reading about evolution – amazing. Reading about cephalopods? Even better. It has a chapter called ‘Mischief and Craft’. Two of my favourite things and words. It’s a really interesting read. And if any creature can be drawn upon to investigate the origin and nature of consciousness then the octopus seems by far superior to us humans to fit the bill.

I get to the end of these posts with roughly 45.682 things I have thought of as I sit and write that I want to share. But I will stop here. And only say… thank you so much for reading.

I hope you have a truly lovely day/weekend/week…

I send you loads of love and hope to see you in a class very soon

Sara-Jayne
xxxx

Exciting Times for Kundalini Global and The Power of Community

In a few weeks’ time it will be a year since I certified with Yoga Alliance as a Kundalini Global yoga teacher. That went by pretty fast. Wow. I was in the first cohort of graduates from the training. Soon another big group, full of fascinating and brilliant humans, will qualify and join us. It is an exciting time.

I am extremely proud to call myself a Kundalini Global teacher.

As a general rule I strongly reject names and labels. My pride is testament to both the quality of the training and the potency of the practise. I love it. I do. I love being in classes. I get to them as many as 5 times a week. I adore teaching. I am passionate about this incredible community growing.

Community is one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of Kundalini Global. The past year has been so weird. So hard for so many. Not least in the isolation. The community that Carolyn Cowan fostered over lockdown through her own Kundalini Global classes has been a magical thing to be a part of. It’s amazing, actually, to consider how we all managed to come together so often over zoom and how much solace we found in doing so. Not only solace. Magic. Transformation. Joy. It’s been unforgettable. And we continue.

As the first group of graduates stepped out in to this peculiar, but really quite wonderful, landscape of online teaching we took the spirit of community into our own classes and slowly but surely, we have built communities of our own. I feel the connection between them all. We are, together, such a force for positive change.

At the time of writing I believe there are around 16 certified teachers of Kundalini Global. Within the next few months that will likely treble. I hope it will treble (and more) many many more times over coming months and years. Another training starts in September. If you’re interested in joining us it’s an incredibly exciting time to do it.

You can find out more here:

Kundalini Global is pioneering, unique and, best of all, it works

Works for what?

Most people come to a yoga class because they have heard through the grapevine, or via a super-skinny YouTube yoga celebrity, that it is relaxing, gentle, or good for stress.

Perhaps too, they seek some kind of a spiritual experience… whatever that means.

Some, like me, come because they are desperate to find respite from how unbearable life feels. How bored they are of their wily, unrelenting mind, and contracted, tense and agitated body. Respite that does not come from a hastily prescribed box of pills from the  GP or from the bottom of a bottle of wine.

Kundalini Global classes offer that respite. Quickly, magically, and through a growing, inclusive, community of teachers and practitioners who become experts in, a phrase you will hear us echo: changing how we feel.

We are a community that is new, yes, but growing quickly. And we have things to do. Big things.

What is Kundalini Global?

I do have a little page on my site about this question, a question I get asked regularly. I never manage to do it justice.

Kundalini Global is a new form of Kundalini Yoga. It is tricky to encapsulate in words, beyond saying that it is absolutely bloody amazing.

I find it to be an extraordinary, embodied, safe, kind, trauma-informed, form of yoga. A practise that creates a unique, still and gentle space within and outside of the self. The practise has a strong focus on the power of presence. And it is fun. I always add that. I have to. I have to tell you it is fun because as a statement it passes the test of being kind, necessary and also true.

Kundalini Global has opened up an entire new universe for me. One of connection, of community, one that feels powered by gratitude and intention and that allows for infinite space and freedom to be myself.

We probably aren’t what you expect…

Teachers of Kundalini Global are trained to consider aspects of creating safe, sacred spaces for classes that, I believe, opens up the possibility of exploring yoga to a much wider demographic. That is what we want. What we intend.

We probably don’t dress how you’d expect a yoga teacher to, we may not be as pretty, as flexible or as ‘love and light’… we may not play the music you have come to expect in a yoga class and we sometimes even say or do naughty things. But we are kind. We are open-minded. We practise self-reflection, daily, to notice where we may have yet unchallenged biases, attitudes or blindspots. We are supervised… we work to ensure we are well boundaried, that we are taking care of ourselves physically and mentally. We support each other.

We are human (and not, unfortunately, frogs… at least not always)

Kundalini Global teachers share a desire to use our individual manifestations of ‘humanness’ to offer those who come to classes an experience of what it can be like, what it can feel like, to be present, safe, still and gentle.

How we help you get there can require effort, don’t be entirely fooled by all this talk of ‘gentle, still, softness.’ That’s the reward.

We may have you using your arms as the world’s sharpest swords, working your core, squatting as a frog in stilettos or beaming 80 foot beams of light through your exhausted, extended arms up over your head (it’s not all barmy – but it’s fun when it is).  No matter what we invite you to explore,  though, all posture is presented with many equal variations to suit all body shapes and abilities, to allow for knowing that a posture is not a ‘can or can’t’ situation.

We show you how to make the postures work for your body. With no ‘ideal’, only equal variations that give the same, or a similar, desired effect.

Kundalini Global is not the preserve of the bendy, the thin, the white, the cis, the straight, the able-bodied, the young, the rich. It is our intention that we do the work to create diverse and welcoming communities that feel safe, fun and, hopefully, sacred. For everyone.

Whilst we may teach on zoom from grey, post-industrial cities in the midlands rather than parading in leggings and bras on rocks in the Ganges, we are all in service to create magical spaces that allow for all manifestations of what it means to be human to be held safely.

Ever unfolding

The work that we began on ourselves during the teacher training with Carolyn Cowan has continued for me every single day since.

‘The work’ – it sounds like a chore, doesn’t it?

Perhaps, if you haven’t ever done a yoga teacher training, you could imagine we mainly practise postures and learn about bones and muscles. We do do that. Lots of it. But the experience of training to teach Kundalini Global goes far beyond that.

With Carolyn you are invited to take apart your entire self-and-societally-constructed sense of self and examine each aspect with open, present, eyes.

I mention presence again here because, in order to do the work, the ability to come to presence again and again is vital. As teachers we must ‘practise what we preach’ and do that.

On the training we become expert at knowing hundreds of ways to come out of the pain of the past and the fear of the future and to the present moment. The commitment is to do it. Believe me, this is easier said than done. It takes huge amounts of self-awareness. It takes an ability to step out of self-obsession. But we commit to it. Because we understand what it opens up.

Deconstruction to reconstruction

I had a point on the teacher training where my entire universe lay in a giant, messy, heap on the floor in front of me. 

But I was present to it. I could see the work that was needed.

Deconstruct, examine, look at it in different lights, through different lenses. Reflect. Keep? Upcycle? Discard? And repeat.

Repeat with each and every aspect of yourself. From the stories you feel are pivotal to your life to how you feel about veganism to your gender identity to your relationship to god. Eventually you are left with what is likely a smaller pile of ‘stuff’ of ‘parts’, from which you can begin to reconstruct YOU.

My reconstruction has been interesting. Bits fall off all the time. Usually for good reason. But I reflect on them as they tumble. On what they taught me. New things get added. I have to take them off and have a look at them every now and then too.

Big parts of my work have been about dealing with shame, on body issues, on landing back into my body after years of being incredibly disconnected. It truly has been about challenging all aspects of what I thought about life and what life could, or should be.

When I wrote earlier ‘it sounds like a chore?’ I was going to follow with ‘it hasn’t felt like one.’ But actually, on occasion, it really has.

I have done it anyway.

I made a commitment when I qualified. I wrote an agreement for myself about what being a Kundalini Global teacher meant to me, what my commitment was. 

I am really bloody proud of myself for sticking with my commitment to change, to challenge, to reflect and to remain, always, open-minded.

When I got to my teacher training in February 2020 I would NEVER have thought possible that I would be in a place so soon of having taught hundreds and hundreds of classes. Of having built a absolutely awesome community of lovely humans who I teach. To have made my own Instagram account full of artistic manifestations of the insides of my brain, made friends with an imaginary tiger that I was comfortable enough to share with the world… none of this would have felt possible.

It became possible because the Kundalini Global training is an incredible, incredible, way to kick-start huge transformation. A little spoiler: you may have to walk through hell on the way. It’s worth it.

My journey…

When I first came to Kundalini Yoga it was not, back then, Kundalini Global. My first exploration was in the ‘as taught by Yogi Bhajan’ school. I remember someone describing the practise at the time to me as ‘yoga, but more spiritual’. An interesting statement on a number of levels. Hilarious.

I could kind of see what they meant, though. It felt like a ‘spiritual thing’ in comparison to what you may find presented as yoga in a gym. To chant. To focus at the third eye. To meditate for hours on end. And it made me feel great. The endorphins alone were enough to see me leaving class as high as a kite, desperate for my next Kundalini fix.

When I first practised Kundalini Yoga, I went from a lycra-clad, scatter-brained, spiritually-skeptic accidental-class-attendee to a white-linen-wearing, spiritual-name-holding, daily sadhana practising, devotee within months. I also became vegan, stopped drinking, took daily cold showers and believed every problem that had ever existed in my life had miraculously vanished with the power of chanting with Snatam Kaur.

I lived for a few years as if I was floating in a cloud of sparkly fairy dust. It drove those around me mad.

This form of Kundalini did much for me at the time but I never wanted to commit to teaching it. Partly because:

a. Everyone around me thought I had joined a cult. 

b. Some part of my knew I had, indeed, joined a cult.

It’s a big topic. And by even discussing it I open myself up to scrutiny in a way I do not feel entirely comfortable with. But the context is important in my journey. Because part of what I love about what Carolyn has done with Kundalini Global also comes to how the practises we teach, just like my description of the work we are invited to do on ourselves, have been deconstructed and examined. The ‘why’ of how they work has been conceptualised within the frameworks of physiology… neuroscience, endocrinology…

We have equally looked at the esoteric thought of the practise. But broadened out that exploration to consider the whole spectrum of religious and spiritual belief systems.

We understand how the practises we work with work. And, yes, many teachers then choose to imbue their classes with all kinds of other concepts and ideas that resonate with them. But the key aspects remain: we can show you how to go from feeling left-out, stressed-out, overwhelmed, anxious, pissed off and offended to the present moment. A place where the ability to accept and allow is possible. And, often, welcome. You also, of course, have permission to stay exactly as you are. We’re only here to show you what you’re capable of if you make the choice to change.

BS Free Yoga

When it comes to Kundalini Global, in private I have said that it is ‘Kundalini Yoga without the bullshit’. A controversial statement? Definitely. And perhaps something of a judgmental one, too.

But, on a personal level, I believe that Yogi Bhajan was not only a despicable predator but that his teachings contained huge amounts of complete and utter, misogynistic, harmful, BS. Beyond that I believe, with every cell of my body, that we do not need anyone to be our guru. We only need to be given some tools and a safe enough space to practise them, to realise that we are powerful beyond measure ourselves.

Creating a new form of Kundalini Yoga is quite a thing. Fearless, fascinating and controversial in itself.

Carolyn Cowan, who founded Kundalini Global, spent decades teaching Kundalini Yoga
before making the incredibly brave decision to take this new, pioneering, path. Carolyn recognised, long before the controversy that hit the world of Kundalini Yoga at the start of 2020, that a new way was needed. A kinder way. A 21st century way. One that is radically inclusive.

Together, I believe the Kundalini Global community will do truly amazing things. I would so love some of those who have enjoyed my classes to train to teach this incredible practise themselves. If you want to read more about Carolyn and the training you can find information here:


Feel free to email me if you have questions.

With loads of love, as always

Sara-Jayne

xxx

“This is the great power of the brain, it’s plastic!” and other recent lessons from my life…

Hello lovely humans,

In just over a week I begin a new series of 5, Tuesday evening, classes called ‘The Art of Changing Your Mind.’

These 90 minute Kundalini Global yoga classes have a specific focus on how practises such as breathing and stretching can aid us on a journey through stress, overwhelm and anxiety.

The series of classes comes with a special issue of my zine, Dancing Star.

All 5 classes will be recorded and available on Vimeo the following morning. The series of classes comes with an exclusive issue of my zine, Dancing Star. The issue has been made to complement what we will work through in class.

Dancing Star will be sent out in the post, with a surprise gift, to you all. It will also be with you as a PDF.

The classes will include a full yoga series and follow a similar format to my regular classes. With 90 minutes we have a little more time for us to go deeper in to individual aspects of the practise. And more time to relax, too!

The cost for the 5 classes, the recordings, and the zine is £30.

That is £6 per 90 minute class plus the zine and recordings. If money is any sort of an obstacle, and you feel you would benefit from the classes, do get in touch.

Also email me: info@sarajaynekundalini.com if you have any questions about the classes.

I would truly adore for you to join me. I’m excited about this series and sharing on some of what I learned when I qualified to teach addiction and anxiety recovery classes earlier this year.

To book your place go here:

When I am teaching classes, I often repeat myself. A lot.

I do my best to be liberal with my explanations. I do. It would not be hard for you to tire of my voice. No matter how gorgeous my Wolvo accent is.

I do love to talk though. And it is important to me that I share some of the ‘why’ when I teach. Perhaps, for you, it is unimportant. My own experience has been that feelings of agency have increased with my understanding of how things work to make me feel so amazing after a class.

A few things come up with so much regularity I thought I would take a little time over coming weeks, on the blog, to explain a more about some of the aspects of our physiology that come up when I am chatting during posture in class.

We’re going to start with an important one:

The Vagus Nerve

Something that I mention, often, is the vagus nerve.

In Kundalini Global, polyvagul theory has informed many aspects of how we work with posture. As one small example, when working with Spinal Flex, a posture that features in pretty much every Kundalini class you ever attend, rather than keeping the neck still, employing the neck lock throughout, as is common in another school of Kundalini, we raise the chin. We do this because of the impact the stretching of the throat has on the signalling aspect of, indeed ALL of, the vagal system. As Carolyn Cowan, our founder, always says ‘if you don’t raise the chin, you miss the gift.’

The vagus nerve is a creepy looking, giant, creature-like cranial nerve that goes all the way from the frown lines to the pelvic floor.

It is a ‘two way highway’ in that it plays a huge role in managing both our sympathetic and parasympathetic responses in in body.

It is a part of the system that manages the internal organs – along with the limbic brain, fascia, endocrine system (our hormonal flow) and the muscles involved in our fight or flight response.

The signalling aspect of the vagus nerve goes from the forehead to the base of the throat. This relates to our external way of telling the world what is happening inside – how we show emotion on the face, for example. Or in the voice. Our eye contact or how our eyes may dart around the room (or be still and gently focused).

The thoracic section of the vagus nerve goes from the neck down to the diaphragm – when we feel triggered/stressed etc. this is felt in the chest. Which tightens in a sympathetic response. We breath higher up in the body, and faster. 

The ventral branch of the vagal nerve affects body functioning below the diaphragm down to the pelvic floor – this is known as the viscera. Where we hold trauma and shame. This is why we have ‘visceral’ or ‘gut’ feelings. 

How can you affect the vagus nerve, positively?

First of all, the power we take back by being aware of it’s functioning is incredible. When we are aware of how it functions and then notice our triggers, notice when we contract, when everything tightens, when our thoughts are short and fast, when the throat closes or the chest tightens… etc. we can, from there:

Stretch
Orgasm
Laugh
Sing
Breathe consciously
Use cold water e.g. cold showers
Dance
Swim…

And very many other practises. All of which help to improve vagal tone.

What have I been reading?

I’ve been getting through my to-be-read pile at a wonderfully satisfying speed. The is largely thanks to getting back in to my very gorgeous habit of having, what many people may consider, obscenely early nights.

A few books I have read, and enjoyed, over the last few weeks are:

Neurocomic: A Graphic Novel About How the Brain Works

This book takes perhaps an hour to read. And it was a pure joy.

A collaboration between neuroscientist Hana Roš and neuroscience-PhD-turned-illustrator Dr. Matteo Farinella, Neurocomic explains the inner workings of the brain in a really fun way.

It is great for nerds like me who are fascinated by the brain but have no formal university level education in its workings. Covering perception, hallucinations, memory, emotional recall… it even dips in to consciousness and the difference between the mind and the brain. A topic I am reading a lot about at the moment.

The protagonist takes a walk through a forest of neurons, learning about neuroplasticity.

“This is the great power of the brain, it’s plastic!”

“Once you learn something it is not set in stone, it’s continuously shaped by experience.”

A book to treasure. An object of beauty. Simple. Fun. Informative. Cute. I love.

Quantum Physics For Dummies 

Real life footage of me reading the book

That may make you laugh. But the ‘For Dummies’ books can be truly excellent. This happens to be one such example, although I will admit that it took me quite some time, and further reading, to fully be able to follow the text through. To have a Quantum Physics for Dummies book definitely feels something of an oxymoron, and the depth this book goes into really challenges the ‘for dummies’ element to breaking point.

Dummy or not, quantum physics is something I am determined to learn more about. I will not say ‘understand’ because I think that may be rather ambitious. I would say that this book is not aimed at someone entirely new to quantum physics… if you are unfamiliar with Hilbert Space, or if you find mathematical equations a huge turn-off, you may not enjoy this book. If you are an expert it is likely not for you, either. For me, this book was valuable to read. It is not ‘pop science’ (I do love a little pop science) but it does not zoom so far over my head that to stay with it is unbearable which has been an experience I have had when reading around quantum physics many times to now.

Quantum entanglement is my latest Google-based, time draining, rabbit hole, since reading this book. Some fascinating concepts are explored, and dusting off the 11-year-old ‘mathlete’ aspect of myself has been quite an adventure. Numbers are great.

Other news from my life…

I have had most of my house decorated over the last month. Something that was very disruptive but worth it. Our home feels as if new life has been breathed in to it. I found the experience of having decorators here to be quite the challenge after a year of lockdown life. Many coffees and teas were made, chats were had, I found myself flying into daily incandescent rages about the sexism I encountered in various workmen’s interactions with me and my family, assumptions that were made, language that was used. We got through it. No one exploded. I thought I might.

One room I did not decorate was the room I teach from. But I have plans. Big plans.

I want that space to be a much more accurate reflection of who I am. I want it to be bright and colourful and magical and strange. At some time over the summer I will take a week or two off from classes to allow the transformation to take place. If you have any interior design inspiration featuring tigers, brains and faux leopard print joy, send it my way.

FREE CLASSES: Saturday and Sunday at 8am.

My free classes now take place on Saturdays AND Sundays at 8am.

Both classes are 60 minutes long.

These classes are a fantastic way to explore Kundalini Global from the comfort of your home.

Beginning in June I will be adding a charity fund-raising element to this offer. All you need to do to sign up is to join my email newsletter.

More info can be found here:


As always, I would love if you left a comment or sent me an email to let me know if you enjoyed this post, how you are, or any questions you may have about anything I have said.

Have the most gorgeous day, week, moment.

Loads of love

Sara-Jayne

xxxxxx






Giving Birth to Dancing Star, The Art of Changing Your Mind and The Apps I Use Most for Digital Art

Hello lovely humans

It’s been a little while. I hope you’re all doing excellently.

I’ve had a few weeks off from the majority of my classes and from doing anything on the blog. But I’ve been busier than ever.

One of the biggest projects I’ve been working on is something I am very excited about and hope that you will be too – I am launching a Zine. It’s called Dancing Star. The plan is to have a new issue once every two months. The first issue is launching on 30th April.

Dancing Star

A sneak peak of the issue of cover one (with deleted spoilers!)

Ever since I started my journey with yoga, with spirituality, my brain has struggled with the ‘why’. ‘Why does everyone talk so much about astrology?’ ‘What’s with the obsession with incense?’ ‘Why is everything so beige and neutral and drenched in essential oils?’

The more I divested myself of the cult thought I had been most beguiled by when I first, as a highly dysfunctional thirty-something, stumbled in to a Kundalini Yoga class, the more I began to question if I could comfortably exist is the realms of yoga and spirituality at all. 

But I decided to stick it out. And it was with huge joy that, as I began to create artwork and write words, on my website, on Instagram, that reflected my own thoughts and experiences on yoga and on life, that others seemed to get something from what I was sharing. 

Fast forward a little… I wanted a project that could combine my love of creating things and sharing my thoughts on my ongoing experiences with my own mind, with giving a platform to others who have interesting stories, ideas and insight to share.

You can expect content including:

– meditations

– breaths 

– interviews 

– art 

– articles that, broadly speaking, focus on brains and how incredible they are. 

And, perhaps best of all, FREE STICKERS! The price is going to be £7 and I hope it’s going to be something that others really enjoy and gain insight from.

I will be revealing more in the days running up to the launch. I have a new Instagram account @dancingstarzine where I will be posting lots of snippets, art and info on what is to come. So go give that a follow if you fancy.

If you don’t know what a zine is – (pronounced zeen) – its a self-published, or at least independently published, booklet. I’ve been a fan of Zines for a long time – often created by cutting and gluing text and images together onto a master file for photocopying, these days it’s more common to produce the master by typing and formatting pages digitally, they are folded and stapled. Ultimately they are a fun and liberating form of publishing and something that I am thrilled to be doing.

I so look forward to launching soon. 30th April.

The Art of Changing Your Mind: Classes For Anxiety Recovery 

Beginning on Tuesday 1st June I am running 5, 90 minutes, Kundalini Global classes for Anxiety Recovery.

These classes will explore tools for moving through anxiety and will explore the concept of neural plasticity – looking at practises we can walk toward taking on daily to ‘retrain’ the brain – creating new neural pathways that will allow for a new experience of the self.

In the short term, too, we will look at tools that you can use to quickly change how you feel in any given moment.

I am also currently working on a special edition of Dancing Star zine, specifically to go hand in hand with this series of classes. This zine will be posted out to all who sign up – – I expect to be sending it out in the final two weeks of May.

If you would like to sign up, or find out more, you can go here now:

The Apps I Use For Digital Collage and Animation: 

Many people contact me every week to ask me about how I create the posts on my Instagram feed and the artwork for this website. It’s flattering, of course. But I find it quite difficult to answer. In part this is because I genuinely do not believe that the answer, in terms of the apps and programmes I use, will be satisfactory because I never use exactly the same process. But as I am asked so often, I thought I would share some of the apps I use most regularly for making collage and animation very simple.

I always start with writing a post and then reflect on how I would like to present what I have to say. And from there I figure out a way of making it come to life. My number one tip is to build up an archive of images you love – that you have taken, that you have the rights for – so that you aren’t reliant on the built in elements that these apps tend to come with. This tends to help make your creations more unique.

If I am not using Photoshop, and if the post does not include digital drawing, when I am making an animation (and it’s also great for collage generally) the app I will turn too more often than any other is this one:

Bazaart: https://www.bazaart.me

To use Bazaart to its full potential you must pay a subscription. It is around £5 per month. Otherwise you do not have access to all features and your creations will have a ‘Bazaart’ watermark on them.

Bazaart takes a little getting used to, but it does include a lot of pre-packaged templates. If you’re familiar with and enjoy the incredibly popular Canva, then you will likely get on well with Bazaart too.

My favourite things about Bazaart are:

The ‘Stop Motion’ feature. This is how I have created many of the gifs of me moving that come in to my Instagram designs. It does require you to take the individual pictures to use, and can be time consuming, but the process is quite intuitive once you have played with it a little.

The ‘Magic’ feature. Literally click one button and you can cut out the dominant ‘object’ in a photograph. Usually, for me, this will be myself. Or a tiger. But I used it all the time. It’s really reliable and easy to refine the cutout if the ‘Magic’ feature doesn’t quite get it spot on.

Bazaart also has useful features like ‘stickers’ that you can use in your creations. A vast library of shapes that you can fill in with any colour or photo of your choice and is generally a great offer for anyone who has no training in using things like Photoshop, Indesign etc. to create all kinds of content.

It’s easy to export your creations as photos. Or, if you use the Stop Motion feature, as gifs or as video files.

It would take me weeks to write a full outline of how I have used Bazaart but here is an example of something I made using Bazaart alone:

Made using Bazaart

Videoleap: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/videoleap-editor-by-lightricks/id1255135442

This is probably, now, my most used application. I love it.

I have a reasonable amount of experience with video editing software. Videoleap makes it much easier than other programmes I have used. It does have limitations, but for the purposes of creating what I create without having to use anything other than my iPad, I am finding Videoleap to be absolutely AMAZING.

Again, this is a subscription offering. Videoleap costs the same as Bazaart – around £5 per month.

Videoleap makes having ‘layers’ to your video projects super simple.

It has lots of build in effects that will likely be popular with many – e.g. a Kaleido effect that turns pretty much any video in to a beautiful moving kaleidoscope of wonder.

I also like the ability to search for royalty free stock video to purchase from within the app. This makes life a lot easier. Although be warned – you can be tripped up by adding these videos liberally, without too much thought, and go to export your video to see you’ve spent £50 on stock footage (you do not get charged until you export though, which is great, as you can play with stock footage for free within the app, unlike what usually happens where you must choose stock video for a project and pay for it before you are able to import to video editing software.

Often I will create a background, with transparent areas, in something like Bazaart, or Photoshop, and then layer with video in Videoleap. I also often use gifs created in Bazaart on Videoleap – importing them as a new layer.

(Not simple any of this, is it?) This was made on Videoleap alone, although elements were obviously imported from photos I have taken etc.

Made using Videoleap

Flippaclip: https://flipaclip.com

Let me start this one by saying that if you’re really interested in creating art on an iPad or similar, you really can’t go wrong with Procreate. Procreate is incredible. No doubt. But I do not include it in this list as I am working from the apps I use most often in the posts I am asked about. And I am often using apps that make things super simple. So whilst I talk about FlippaClip here, because it does a certain job very well, I really would recommend Procreate above all else.

FlippaClip is a pretty basic app but one that I find simple and a joy to use. It is exactly like creating a flip book, only digital. I have a lot of fun with this app and use it to draw my daily ‘anxiety beast’.

Top tip: you can combine an animation make in Flippaclip with VideoLeap by creating an animation on a green background – so it acts like a green screen, and then you can easily add your animation, cut out, in video leap using whatever methods you have come to love there.

FlippaClip allow you to create frame-by-frame animation. If you are new to such things they have some good video tutorials that introduce you to the tools offered and walks you through how to use the app.

The home screen includes two starter projects that serve as models and can be used to learn and practice the ins and outs of frame-by-frame animation.

You can use audio, music, and import images to the frames. It’s a fun app to work with. Lots to play with. My extremely artistic and clever teenage daughter laughs when I choose to use this over ProCreate (it depends what you need to do!) but I really do love simple!

Made on Flippaclip

I could probably list another 6 or 7 at least. I do use a lot of different apps, and it really depends on what I am making. But these 3, particularly Bazaart and Videoleap, are offerings that: 

  1. Make it simple for those of us with no real training in art and graphic design to accomplish the creation of ambitious projects 
  2. Are cheap and work well. Offer good value. 
  3. Are, by some way, those I turn to most often. 

I do hope this is in some way helpful to those of you who ask me the question about the ‘how’ – particularly on Instagram. The answer really isn’t simple, and it is not at all that I try to keep it ‘secret’ – my belief is that the apps are not really the important part. The imagination is.

I will be writing more of a ‘life update’ post over the weekend.

As always do comment, email me or share this if you enjoyed. I always love to hear from you.

Sending you all loads of love

Sara-Jayne

Exquisite Stillness, My Weird Brain and A Bee at My Yoga Room Window

Hello lovely humans

I write, today, on a truly beautiful Spring morning. It was a lovely moment to leave the house to do the school run, little hands gripped in mine, and feel the sun on my incredibly pale skin. It also caused me to pause and reflect on how little attention I had paid to the changing season. Life has been extremely busy for me over recent months. With a backdrop of loss, of stressful things, but also of incredible opportunities and positive change.

When I work, in my own life, on presence, on stillness, I most often turn to my tools in the form of stretching, posture, breathing, meditation, to running, to creating… but they always tend to be ‘doing’ things. The ‘doing’ can, from its effort, allow a sense of stillness to come in the aftermath. Or the stillness can come to the mind in the process – my mind is never less anxious than as I run. It is as if it is entirely cleansed. Running feels like taking my brain to a car wash and letting some kind of magical machine make it sparkle like new. And I get the endorphins at the end too which, these days, I am so much better at allowing to get to work in gobbling up the stress hormones by actually experiencing them rather than going straight from my run, or my yoga practise, on to whatever stressful thing I have coming up next.

What feels important to me right now is to allow the stillness to come in through more subtle practise too. To be present in nature is a big one. I could perhaps say that it doesn’t always feel easy, living as I do in a post-industrial city, the pollution from the main road forming soot over the porch tiles on the daily. But, in fact, where I live is a truly beautiful place.

For a long time I have taken daily walks down an old, meandering, railway line in a nature reserve only minutes from my home. A railway line that has been reclaimed by the earth, allowed to be reabsorbed by nature. Some days I even spot a Muntjac deer. A Muntjac deer! Only minutes from a main road, the local Premier League Football Team’s floodlit training ground and two huge comprehensive schools, in the middle of a city. It never fails to make me feel overwhelmed with joy when I see them dash across my path as the dogs pull at their leads and the squirrels scatter. I walk along the manmade canals with nothing for company but the herons and the ducklings and the swans. I know the local swans well. They become predictable in their presence at certain marker points on my walks. I know their pairings. Last year’s babies, long departed and, to me, missed. It can feel shabby and even bleak on grey days. But it is always very beautiful to me. It always helps me. Soothes.

I haven’t been going so often lately. My dog, Rebel, is very sick. She has cancer. And it’s not curable. She isn’t yet 5. She is having chemotherapy. 16 weeks. We’re 4 weeks in. And she is better, in herself, than she was. Some days are harder than others. She’s a lovely companion, Rebel. She hasn’t really been up to walks. I came to feel as if I was abandoning her to go our usual routes when she cannot join me. The impact on my mind of taking this daily commitment away has been felt through every part of my life. So I need to work out a compromise. One day last week she managed a walk a little of our usual route. It was very lovely to have that 30 minutes out with her. Walking a mile rather than our usual 6. It made me really sad, though, too.

Right now I notice the bumblebee at the window of my yoga room, enjoying what exists, still, of the lavender I planted there last Spring that looks so leggy and sad now. Neglected. The bee doesn’t seem to mind. Just as I don’t mind the shabby, bleakness of the canal path on a rainy day.

Perhaps the answer is to put my usual walking time in to the garden. It certainly needs the attention. In fact that’s a glorious idea because Rebel can join me then, too.

The Exquisites

I usually include, in each post, details of what I have been reading. My reading material of late has so much been to support my yoga teaching and practise that my hugely eclectic to be read pile sits sadly in the corner, literally, like a dusty tower of remembrance for what I had hoped for …

You see, reading for pleasure has fallen away somewhat this year so far. Another aspect of my self care and experiences of presence that needs some serious attention.

The most glorious thing I have read in recent weeks, by some way, is a new subscription newsletter from Carolyn Cowan called The Exquisites which she has launched on the rather glorious and fascinating platform Sub-stack.

Substack is a great place to explore, to find interesting writers who have new ideas and perspectives to share. Writers can use it as a platform to say, essentially, whatever they want, unencumbered by editors. I like that independent writers that join the platform own their own content. And it really does attract some incredible writers. Carolyn is my my favourite of those because her writing is other-worldly… exquisite. And what she has to say… what she has said already, is exactly what I need to hear.

Carolyn has made something so unique, so elegant, so beguiling… it really blew me away to have the first issue sent to my inbox a few days ago.

In The Exquisites, Carolyn is taking us on a journey through, as she puts it, an accumulation of Exquisite experiences. Using written word, spoken word, audio, video, gorgeous artwork. . . 

It is an email that opens up a very magical interactive experience. It’s very sensory. The whispers and the music and the feelings that come as you follow the practises that you are guided, gently, kindly, beautifully, through.

It’s impossible to do it justice, really, because it has to be experienced to be believed. But when the first issue landed with me it also LANDED me. Like a feather slowly floating to the ground and then nestling in, securely, to rest amongst the twigs and pebbles and earth. I felt divine after working my way through it. Twice. In fact. And I may just do it all again today.

I can’t recommend it enough. Subscriptions to The Exquisites are paid for. The work that goes in to such offers is enormous and it’s a very good thing, in my view, to support talented writers who have interesting and hugely valuable things to share.

If you want to try it out, Carolyn’s offer is £10 per month, or £100 if you subscribe for a year. To me, with the continual offer of horror, offence, violence and stress from platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, Now TV and the news… £10 per month is the most incredible value to be gifted in return something that has been created only with the aim to give us stillness. To give us an altered experience of ourselves. An exquisite experience of ourselves in an altered state.

If you want to subscribe or find out more go here:

This Life Divine

This Life Divine is only a week away. Beginning on Good Friday, This Life Divine is a two day event to help us move through addictive or anxious behaviours.

Here’s a little trailer for the event.

If you would like more information feel free to email me or visit the website at www.thislifedivine.com

I have a special link and code for 50% off tickets so let me know if you would like that.

Me and my brain

At the start of the year I was invited by The Priory Group to take part in a campaign on Instagram called #ShareTheArt. The idea was that a number of artists (I have never considered myself an artist but was flattered to be named as such) were to be commissioned to create a piece of art as a reflection of the role of creative expression on our mental health. Mental health awareness is one of my biggest passions and art one of my most treasured tools for presence, so I was really excited to take part.

It has been an honour and an incredible experience to be a part of this campaign and I truly believe the message. Art, being creative, helps me enormously. HUGELY.

 I did not expect to create what I ended up creating. My plan, always, was to draw ‘My Brain’ (as a character) every day over the duration of the campaign and create something from those drawings. I thought I would be showing me and my mind picnicking in meadows, all still and soothed and serene. 

But, really, as I got to work, I knew that wasn’t right. Me and my mind do have those still, soothed, moments. But they most often come as a result of me embracing my mind’s true nature. After creating, laughing and smiling as I go, things where I truly feel I have expressed ME. And I don’t think anything ever has quite like this. 

Creative expression is one of the most fantastic tools available to us as humans in managing our relationship to ourselves, our stories, our emotions… what that looks like, sounds like… how it is received by others… to me, that’s not the important part. 

The important part is that it helps. It helps you feel present. It helps you feel heard. It allows the release of emotion in a really powerful way. 

And my brain is weird. Unusual. It really is. And I’m getting to a place where I really am very proud of that.

The Priory Group are inviting everyone to join in with Share The Art by creating their own piece of art on the value of creative expression. To take part use the hashtag on Instagram #ShareTheArt and tag @priorygroup

And let me know if you join. I’d love to see what you make. You can find more about my journey with the campaign over on my instagram @sarajaynekundalini

My Final Piece

Free Classes Continue:

My free classes continue every Saturday morning at 8am. I love them. So much. It’s community building at its best. Totally suitable for beginners. No flexibility required. We breathe together, stretch together and hopefully take the time to land in to the present moment. Maybe even laughing as we go.

I would love to see you there.

To sign up go here:

Upcoming Projects:

In the coming week I will be announcing the dates for my next two workshops. I AM: Creative and I AM: Safe. Both will come with gifts, with affirmation cards and other goodies. I am working on that now. Along with another exciting project that is in my other area of passion and expertise: publishing. I’m going to be publishing something that I hope will be really special. That is likely going to be toward the end of April but I am working with some incredible humans to create something MAGIC for you.

Do stay in touch. Leave a comment, send an email I love to hear from you.

With all my love

Sara-Jayne xxx 

PS – if you made it ALL the way through this post (which was much longer than I intended) thank you so much. Mwah! xxx