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.