The Pushpam publication stealthily found its way into every crevice of my life: beside the bed for a nightly peruse, tucked into my briefcase for the morning train ride, and on the armchair for a leisurely read after dinner. Pushpam’s translation is, “flower”, in Sanskrit. It is a beautiful, richly deep and penetrating body of work. The quarterly publication explores themes of yoga beyond asana. The quality of content within each issue is exactingly high. Many of the authors are experts in their respective fields. Certified teacher, Hamish Hendry, is the publisher and journalist and authorized teacher, Genny Wilkinson Priest, is the editor.
I recently received both volume 1 and 2 from a friend in Mysore (purchased at KPJAYI) and my wife’s recent visit to Hamish’s shala in London.
The publication is incredibly valuable tool for the yoga practitioner. It seeks to go beyond the physical aspect of our practice, delving deeply into the unseen, rich, layers. Topics including consciousness, concentration, parenthood, God and spirituality are explored. Every yoga practitioner’s library should contain it.
After a brief introduction by Hamish in volume 1, the next page segues to an exclusive piece written by Sharath Jois, immediately setting the tone for the publication. Volume 1 finds Certified teacher, Luke Jordan, exploring the “1% theory” aspect in his piece, “What is the Purpose of Studying Philosophy?”
With direct precision, Jordan emphasizes, “Without it (study of yoga philosophy), yoga has the potential to be shorn of its purpose, meaning and identity. It has the potential to degenerate into a narcissistic pursuit, a Frankenstein version of the yoga that is talked about in the philosophical texts.”
He continues, “For me, yoga is primarily about inquiry. It is an incredibly rich and profound philosophical tradition and if we focus on just the practice of postures, we really are mistaking the wood for a very small tree. Yoga philosophy, while it comes to us from a distant past, asks the questions that affect all of us in the present.”
Ashtanga is a practice of paradoxes. The physical asana and sequence that requires complete effort is merely a tool for the practitioner to go inward toward single pointed concentration. Jordan reminds us the nectar of the practice lies in consciousness.
The range of curated articles is refreshing and the breadth of topics highly impressive: “God in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras”, “Western Meditation and Astanga Yoga Practice”, and a much skirted topic in the community, “Unravelling the Yoga and Eating Disorder Tangle”.
Volume 2 is highly enjoyable. This edition is printed on a soft, woodsy, card stock, and much larger in size than volume 1. A large focus is dedicated to the Bhagavad Gita. Articles include, “The Many Faces of the Bhagavad Gita”, “Nature’s Web: The Gunas of Prakrti in The Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutra.”
There is also a fascinatingly candid piece titled, “In Conversation: Two Certified Teachers (Richard Freeman and Hamish Hendry).” Many gems can be found in this exchange between Richard and Hamish. The reader can envision two senior teachers engaged in lively banter from inside a coffee shop during early spring. It is worth reading multiple times.
Genny Wilkinson Priest explores a topic all students have considered, “Astanga Yoga and The Autumn of Life”. Through the lens of senior students of Guruji and Sharath including Rolf Naujokat, Bill Brundell, and David Roche, Wilkinson Priest explores the adaptation of a student’s body to aging, “Accompanying the inevitable age-related decline of their physical capacity for asana has been an ascendancy of their whole yoga practice. Life experience has brought them much knowledge as they moved through the four asramas of life (Brahmacarya, Grhastha, Vanaprastha and Samnyasa).”
One piece I enjoyed tremendously is by Certified teacher, Sharmila Desai, “Finding Krishna, A Blueprint for Raising Conscious Children.” Desai explores the theme of cultivating instincts possessed by Arjuna within our children to empower them with making consciously smart decisions as they experience the ups and downs of growing up. Teaching children spiritual values instills a sense of grounding. Desai writes, “When children see themselves in Krisna’s form and see everything else is part of Him too-nature, animals, friends, family-they begin to feel a sense of belonging and on some level understand that we are all part of the same continuum.”
My comments only skim the surface of this highly enriching work. The authors within each volume have done a tremendous job. I look forward with excitement to upcoming editions.