By Shaura Hall
As 2016 came to a close, I reflected upon all that has passed this year. For me, it has offered many challenges and opportunities to get to know myself further; it has also been a year of team gathering.
This year contained a huge milestone for me: I wrote and delivered my first 220-hour yoga teacher training course, run as a collaboration with The Minded Institute’s school of yoga therapy. I could not have done this project without the influence and guidance of my teacher and founder of The Minded Institute, Heather Mason.
In 2016, I also gained a communications and marketing director in the visionary Rae Delanie Passfield. Together we have endeavoured to get the diverse aspects of my work under one ideological roof and into the concept of ‘The Yogologist’ and ‘Yogologie’.
I am grateful for the people in my life who acted variously as mirrors, microscopes, and foils and challenged me to become a more effective version of myself. One such person is Gail Stephens of Dancing Warriors who has become my mentor and coach. Another—and the silent hero for the last year—is my editor and stepmom, Lokiko Hall, who has taken the majority of my documents and shaped them into readable material at the last minute without any complaints or recrimination.
Together, I and all whom I have mentioned or alluded to above have combined our skills, supported each other, and apportioned the workload to make possible the sharing of ideas and knowledge. I am blessed.
O U R C O L L A B O R A T I V E B O D I E S
When I think about the biological nature of humans, I am astounded to see community and cooperation all the way down at a cellular level.
If we could turn back the world’s clock about 3,500 million years, we could possibly encounter our last universal common ancestor with all the beings of Earth: a single cell. The early atmosphere was not as we know it now; in the beginning there was not even a trace of oxygen to share but there were tiny scraps of molecules that could have been used as building blocks for the little cell to evolve.
But the single cell didn’t do it alone, oh no, instead it allowed a bacterial species now known as the mitochondria to enter into its space and they began to work together to get bigger and stronger; by the time oxygen was introduced to the planet by the green cells – that we now know as plants – the single cell was well on its way to becoming something else. The working partnership between the mitochondria and the single cell potentially allowed multicellular life to become established, and, over time, became so inextricably linked that they were no longer capable of surviving without each other.
And we are all the result of this collaboration.
If we jump forward to the present day, we find that our bodies are now made up of over 30 trillion differentiated cells—cells that have evolved and transformed to perform specific functions within the body. For example, red-blood cells have specified to carry oxygen and carbon dioxide (a by-product of cell metabolism) around the body. As these red-blood cells become ready to enter into our circulation, they discard aspects of themselves that they have used to grow in order to make room for the protein and iron that enable them to collect the precious molecules that they trade in.
I find the intelligence that our cells display absolutely awe-inspiring. For a cell that my naked eye will never be able to see to rid itself of the factory that has made up the components to its body without complaint, knowing that once it has gone it can cannot repair and must live out its limited lifecycle within the body before being dying and being recycled to make new cells… it totally blows me away.
Our “modern” bodies also host a similar amount (about 30 trillion) bacteria, most of which are found in the gut and the more I learn the more I realise that the relationship between my consciousness and the intelligence of all the micro parts my organism are indivisibly bound, so much so that they are all parts of the great unity that is me—and every one of us.
In yoga the concept of ahimsa or non- violence asks us cultivate our ability to ‘do no harm’ – to our wonderful bodies and to each other. I look forward to a day when we collectively realise the value of holding each and every being as a valuable miracle and we treat each other as such.
A H I M S A : N O N V I O L E N C E
The concept of nonviolence appears to be a strange one in this modern world. There are still so many unanswered questions: Why do children suffer? Why are people starving? Why do we have war? Why do we still have a small group of people that decide the fate of the world? And why are so many of us fooled by the propaganda this group feed us with? While we remain complicit with this, we cannot be free.
Perhaps, though, a resistance is sparking.
As global politics continues to make each day more frightening than the last, it was truly moving to witness the millions of human beings flood the streets around the world in the Women’s March. Standing together in opposition to divisive and destructive ideologies. Collaborating with selflessness and pure spirit to protect our humanity.
Prior to this wave of activism, I had been watching the music video Prayer of the Mothers over and over again. The song, by artist Yael Deckelbaum, documents the Women Wage Peace Movement where thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women marched together for peace. I cried at the beauty of these women. And, allowing the energy of their collaboration to enter my heart, they have strengthened my resolve.
I will not give in to helplessness. I, and those who work with me, join in this prayer, the prayer that is at the heart of The Yogologist and Yogologie, the prayers of those kind spirits everywhere who seek equality for all. With all of my heart, I invite you to do the same.