HOW DID YOU GET INTO YOGA?
I attended my first yoga class at the age of 13 at the small village hall in the rural English village that I grew up in. The teacher was an elderly man originally from the Bahamas who has since left his body. He was gentle and kind and seemed very wise to me. It didn’t strike me at the time, but looking back he was the only black man in a very white, conservative and fairly narrow-minded small community. That he was also teaching yoga would have made him truly bohemian and exotic in that context! I’ve always been blessed to be surrounded by trial-blazers and pioneers and I realise now my beginnings in yoga were no exception.
HOW IS YOGA USEFUL IN THE BIRTH PROCESS?
Yoga helps women to prepare mentally and emotionally for the changes that pregnancy brings with it. Through learning how to relax, meditate and breathe mindfully a woman can prepare for an empowering and positive birthing and post-natal experience. There are also many tools in yoga for helping us to be better mothers, cultivating patience, kindness and the ability to cope with life’s ups and downs. Ultimately, we cannot change how the experience of birthing our babies transpires or what the outcomes are but we can always change our response to events as they unfold; yoga gives us the tools to respond with grace and determination.
HOW IMPORTANT IS A PURE VEGETARIAN DIET IN THE YOGA PATH?
The first observance that Patanjali presents in the Yoga Sutras is ahimsa or non-violence. Patanjali suggests that non-violence is a priority over all other considerations. For example, it is better to tell a lie (violating satya) to preserve a non-violent situation than to tell the truth if it will lead to the physical harm of another. This teaching is clear in the scriptures over and over again. The link between eating meat and violence is obvious. Therefore, if you are serious in your pursuit of yoga a vegetarian diet is the only option. As my teacher Sharon Gannon (Jivamukti Yoga) says ‘Don't wait for a better world. Start now to create a world of harmony and peace. It is up to you, and it always has been. You may even find the solution at the end of your fork.’
HOW CAN ONE MERGE THE ANCIENT TEACHINGS INTO MODERN LIFESTYLES?
This is a huge question and one that many people (including myself) have written whole books on. In my own life I have found that taking things one step at a time is helpful. Changes are generally more sustainable if they are implemented in an intelligent order that makes sense over time (this incidentally is the true meaning of the word vinyasa). For example, if your goal is to start a daily yoga practice, begin with ten minutes which is very manageable.
Another element which has helped me enormously is to practice bhakti or devotion. This means surrendering to the Divine Source and living a life that is focused on service and contribution rather than ‘what can I get?’.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE BOOKS YOU HAVE WRITTEN?
At the moment I’m in the process of publishing an updated edition of my book on pregnancy ‘The Yoga of Birth’. We are creating a new cover and revising some of the contents as it is eight years since I wrote the original manuscript and I’ve had two more children since then! This book has sold thousands of copies now and I’m so delighted that demand for it is still strong. I also have a new book ‘Mindful Living: Everyday Teachings and Spiritual Practices for a Sacred and Happy Life’ coming out in February. The focus is on yoga philosophy and ayurveda as it applies to modern life. I particularly draw on the sadhana practices – conscious spiritual practices – which bring a sense of devotion and the sacred to our daily experience. It will be published by Rockpool Publishing and available in Australia as well as the USA.
For more information about Katie and her courses and workshops visit www.KatieManitsas.com.au