It’s not every day you find yourself singing to your bones. Maybe generally a song in the shower, but an ode to the bones in the bath is a first for me. It’s all a reflection on the wonderful Yoga Therapy course at Minded created by the mysterious Heather Mason, who despite looking like a Hollywood A lister has fashioned an extraordinary course on yoga therapy from I imagine many years of intense experience of yoga and life.
I purposely didn’t have expectations of the course, as by now I have learned that this inevitably leads to disappointment, but if I had the beginning few days of the course would have exceeded them. Like Heather, I have been also practising at a monastery in Holland for many years, firstly as a Zen layperson, and latterly with my participation in a Buddhist Jukai ceremony giving me the name and identity, Jiko. So I began the yoga therapy course as Jenny but found myself morphing into my other personality Jiko, so that for me was a reassuring experience and message that this mixture of people, learning, teachers, London, food and location was the real deal.
The Museum of Happiness provides a lovely, nurturing environment (thank you Vicky and Rosa!) and despite the sacred aspect of the material we are studying, the relaxed aspect of the days were very helpful and I think that this enabled many people to look beyond our usual fixed identities to forge friendships much more speedily than in the normal yoga or class environment. It is a testament to Heather’s skill that this was possible, as for many practitioners the yoga world can sometimes mirror the insecurities we feel in the world at large over body image.
A full on schedule of some of the major systems of the body; immune, autonomic, endocrine: a scan of stress and disease; the history of medicine; the koshas; psychotherapeutic principles: all went in as easily as the delicious smoothies in nearby Wholefoods, which I discovered to the detriment of my bank account on day 3. I slept well despite the amount of information, which for me is a good sign that we are being taught by people who are centred in their experience and teaching abilities.
On the final day my short appearance as a skeleton bizarrely really helped me encounter my body in a way that I had not before. Emotions for sure, but bones? These well crafted and surprising ways of presenting new material with lightness and humour, is a fantastic way of acquiring new neuroplastic pathways: and I am looking forward to many more new neurons surprising me with their appearance as the course continues over the next 18 months, or perhaps 19!
Jenny Tonge (500hr Cohort Student)