feminism

Verse Matters Wednesday 7th March In Celebration of International Womens Day

on March 5, 2018 No comments

I am excited to be speaking some of my own poetry at Verse Matters this Wednesday 7th March at the Theatre Deli Sheffield.

This is the description from their website –

Verse Matters is an intersectional feminist arts collective based in Sheffield, founded by Rachel Bower. Verse Matters runs events at The Moor Theatre Deli in Sheffield and provides a supportive space for poetry, spoken word, storytelling, music and comedy, showcasing the work of talented people in a friendly, safe environment. Each event has a mix of experienced and new performers.

Events are always open to all. Each night includes two featured artists, and an open mic session with six performers (five minutes each). The structure is non-hierarchical, and door profits are split between performers.

Verse Matters was set up to attest to the structural inequalities in society and the arts. To remember that ‘women’s rights’ are diminished without racial equality and economic justice. To bring people together in solidarity. To create a forum for debate, challenge and pleasure.

Some of our performers tell stories that have been erased by society: refugees, detainees, prisoners. Others might read a page of their favourite book, speaking in public for the first time. Others are experienced poets, puppeteers, dramatists and performers. All are respected and appreciated.

These times call for solidarity and for resistance. We need outlets through which to articulate our anger, our sadness, our joy. Verse Matters exists to provide this space.

This is a special Verse Matters in collaboration with SHE Fest a fringe festival in Sheffield that celebrates International Women’s Day and I am delighted to be involved.

Come down and bring your friends.

 

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Carly MountainVerse Matters Wednesday 7th March In Celebration of International Womens Day

An Introduction To The Butterfly Work

on October 12, 2017 No comments

A new Year 1 Group is constellating for January 2018 and will be held monthly from January – July. I am holding an Introductory Day on October 21st at Yoga Kula Leeds. Below is a piece I wrote about my personal journey into the Butterfly work and how it has emerged into the course it is today.

I came to the Butterfly work shortly after having my second child. I was exhausted and out of practice, but craving some time to connect to myself and a way to nourish and enjoy my body. I started to practice just 10 minutes a day and quite quickly I found that that time for myself had become integrated into my daily life.

It took three years before the full practice moved through me. At this time, I emerged from a yoga school from which I had learnt a tremendous amount, but whose structures were masculine and hierarchical. I had been teaching yoga for 10 years and the desire to share this work with my students and other women in my life became louder and louder. But I felt instinctively that this feminine work needed a feminine way of holding. The terms masculine and feminine are fraught with often unhelpful connotations and I want to underline that this is not about gender. There are men who have the capacity to hold a feminine space and women who lead with a predominantly masculine energy, which is great. What I am referring to is difficult to name in definitive language, but essentially, what I was seeking to offer was a space that reached beyond the hierarchy of guru and student. A space that could include emotional expression, a space to be nourished and accepted in shadow and in light, and a place where sacred feminine energy could be free to emerge and be felt through each woman.

In Butterfly we sit in circle, the circle connotes a sense of equality. Within that circle, I may take the role of teacher, but I continually hold within my view that the relationship is always reciprocal. There is some teaching through the form of yoga sequences, mudra and poetry. But, both me as the teacher, and the form as the teacher meets what is naturally arising from within you. As my Teacher Kim Rosen illustrates so beautifully, “I cannot teach you anything that you don’t already know. But if I am lucky, I will say it in such a way that you know, that you know it”. Therefore, I would say that the Butterfly work is place where we can remember what we have forgotten, lost or denied. Form can be a beautiful, sacred expression of what is underneath our layers, just as words create a form through which we can reach towards mutual understanding. As a guide, I can facilitate, watch, intuit and create a container within which you can explore, but the rest is up to you.

Likewise, we cannot “do” this work. So many women come to the practice thinking they can muscle through it. But this is a truly yin practice, so what is required is a deep listening and surrender to what lies beneath the waves. We live in such an active world, which can be seen in our obsession with asana. This collection of practices are a powerful antidote to all the doing. I often compare it to orgasm, you cannot muscle your way to an orgasm. All we can do is indulge ourselves to the place where the pulsations of pleasure carry us over into orgasm. We allow ourselves to be taken beyond our will. The practice of yoga is similar. The place where form meets what is spontaneously arising is the union, and when we are taken by that meeting we enter yoga. And like orgasm, it can be a delightful, immersive sometimes even transcendent experience.

Many yoga schools prioritise calm over other emotional experiences as a sort of preordained tick box that we have achieved union. I am not saying that finding stillness and peace is not a desirable aspect of practice, it is very beneficial. But, I have no desire to be permanently calm, anymore than I desire to be permanently in rage. I was craving a space that would embrace and honour the wisdom of my emotional body as much as any other facet of my being. So much of my learning has come through relationships, engaging in them, the breakdown of them and the joyful and often messy interaction that true intimacy can bring. Behind our masks, there are many weather systems and it feels as though rather than always reaching for the light aspects of ourselves through practice, it is time to own and embrace the shadows as equally valuable as well. After all, emotional being is a flow in itself, and when we allow emotional expression to happen at some point we can guarantee that that energy will transform and find it’s onward flow. It evolves, just like a yoga sequence. The more we allow, the more we begin to realise that even the strongest feelings flow into other states. And they can be a vehicle to awakening and absolute presence.

All this creates a delicious cauldron, made even juicier by the unique gifts that each woman brings. One of the benefits of this work is the space it creates for you to spend time with other women. This is often one of the most nourishing and enjoyable aspects of the Butterfly course. In fact, all the ingredients I have named above are about intimate relationship; relationship to practice, relationship to support, relationship to ourselves, relationship to other women and underlying all that, relationship to the mystery that guides and weaves it all.

The Introduction Day at Yoga Kula in Leeds will take place on Saturday 21st October. I cannot teach the Butterfly mudra in one day it takes time and investment. But what this introduction day will offer is a flavour of the work that accompanies the mudra practice, a feel for the space I hold and a chance for us to meet. So, if any of this resonates with you, come along! I am really looking forward to it and would love to see you there. You can book the Intro Day here.

 

 

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Carly MountainAn Introduction To The Butterfly Work

A Call for the Fierce Protectress on Mothers Day

on March 6, 2016 No comments

In celebration of all Mothers today on Mothers Day. I 100% include those women who have birthed children AND those whose mother energy was destined to birth other creative endeavours in this lifetime.

We are living in a time of mass movement of so many refugees, so many women and children forced to leave their homes. There are horrendous wars and within this mass abuse and rape of women and children. Thinking of all those who are displaced and lost and in pain today, its hard not to recognise that we need fierce feminine, we need the roar of the lioness. Chameli Ardagh articulates this with such humour and grace in her TED talk. I have posted it before but is worth posting again. Have a wonderful day.

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Carly MountainA Call for the Fierce Protectress on Mothers Day

Coming out as…grey

on March 14, 2014 No comments

For 20 years no less, I have polluted my system with hair dye.

I’m done. I am taking my masks off. I do not want to pollute my system or our water with those chemicals anymore. I am done with the violence of the beauty industry, to the earth, to animals and to myself.

Change is life. And to age is a privilege.

If we are to walk a life of meaning we must do just that, walk it. And there are many ways to do that. We are after all transmitters and I find myself asking everyday “What do I want my transmission to say?”. So many people have said “you are so brave”. But isn’t it odd, that it is brave to be natural, to be seen as I am? I have finally realised that to let the earth shine through me is the most beautiful I could ever be. It’s not conventional, it requires a letting go of looking to those ideals for a sense of worth.

Ultimately we hold the keys to our own cages. Age brings wisdom. Women as they ripen into the autumn and winter of life are often mocked for being menopausal, or are “traded in for a younger model”, get the sack whilst their male counterparts work on in their distinguished gentlemanly aging. And we perpetuate it with surgery, hair dye, dieting, grasping outwardly for some resemblance of summer that we think will make us desirable, empower us and make us feel we have a place. I am not saying that enjoying looking after our appearance is wrong, it can be a beautiful way of taking care of ourselves. But, it is worth checking in with who we are doing it for and what our choices are based on.

You can’t grasp power from outside, you tap into it from the inside. We are abundant, we are earth, we are love.

So enter the reign of the wolf, the wild, the free.

Grow old with grace. And be the change you wish to see.

* Since writing this post I have re-dyed my hair. I was grey for about 3 years and it felt really important to make the statement. I still believe much of what I say in this piece. I would love to see more ageing women feel comfortable in their grey hair. But I also realise the importance for freedom to change and freedom to choose. I am still not happy to put chemicals on my head or in the water….but I am human and imperfect so sometimes I make selfish choices.

Here is to freedom of expression in all it’s forms and embracing our imperfections as compassionately as we can. 

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Carly MountainComing out as…grey

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys.

on November 1, 2013 No comments

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys.

You would hope that in 2013 we had progressed beyond such obvious stereotypes. But no—walk into any large toy shop and pink is still for girls and blue for boys. And colour is just the tip of the iceberg.

Open a kids book and still the characters are predominantly “he”. Hats off to the Julia Donaldsons of this world who have female and male characters in her books. Sadly, she is in the minority. I constantly change characters when I read our children books so that female characters feature as much as males.

Simple observations you might say, but why then do we still take it for granted?

Meanwhile in a conversation sometime ago at my house…

My daughter, Aurora, age three: ”Look at my rabbit.”
Friend: “What’s his name?”
Aurora: “Its a she and her name is big rabbit.”

I was thrilled when this conversation first happened as our naming all the toys “she” had worked. But when friends and family come around to visit 99% do not think twice about about presuming all the toys are male. Pah, you may say its a toy it means nothing; but I disagree.

It’s the little things that mount up to a big message and this is the insidious way that the patriarchy in which we live perpetuates itself.

I am a feminist—not because of the number of books I have read, but because I am a woman living in the world. A world where, on a micro scale, I still get post from women of my own generation addressing me Mrs James Mountain (my jaw drops every time). Am I a possession of my husband? I ask myself.

And on a macro scale, a world where, “603 million women still live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime, and 2.6 billion have no criminal legal protection from marital rape.” Taken from the 2011-2012 Annual Report from UN Women.

Astonishing.

Feminism is not something that just concerns women – it concerns us all. When one suffers, we all suffer. The whole basis of yoga is union, union of Ida and Pingala, of masculine and feminine on a micro scale of the body and on a macro scale of the universe.

This does not depend on sexuality, gay, straight, black, white we all have masculine and feminine within us. Union is the only route to liberation. But there is no use cultivating union on a yoga mat if it does not translate into daily life.

It’s about humanism and equality; we all deserve love and respect.

According to both UN Women and the World Bank, countries where women have the same rights as men also enjoy greater financial and social prosperity.

There are fundamental differences between males and females and these are to be celebrated—but also numerous studies have shown that a lot of our behaviour is learned not innate. And there is still not enough balance.

My concern as a woman and mother is that whilst ever the simple daily expressions and experiences of our children are so male dominated, regardless of what we do at home these inequalities will continue.

I love men – my husband is one of the biggest feminists I know! Only through education and awareness of those tiny things that mold and shape our children can we change society.

I don’t want to live in a female dominated society but I would like to see equality.

True equality—and it has to start with the kids.

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Carly MountainPink is for girls, blue is for boys.