By Norman Blair
I have been planning to write Brightening Our Inner Skies for more than ten years. There are notes that I made in April 2005. In 2008, I was writing down possible titles such as Opening Doors.
Brightening Our Inner Skies seeks to help the reader to have a better understanding of Yin yoga. And my aim is that it will do more than that; that it will help us to connect to the threads with which we are all weavers in this web of life. Rather than touching toes, my sincere wish is that this book will assist all of us in touching the joie de vivre that beats in our hearts – the fact that life loves to live.
There are many ways to begin. Back in 1991, there was the first yoga class that I attended, taken along by a friend who thought it would be good for me. Nine years later I sat my first meditation retreat. A year after that – out of the fires of personal disappointment and heartbreak – I started teaching yoga. And it was in that year (autumn 2001) that I went to my first ever Yin yoga class in the beautiful space of Manchester Buddhist Centre.
Fifteen years later, I am drawing together some of these threads to explain why I personally believe so much in this practice. A feeling inside me is of edges having been eased and spirit becoming soothed.
This is much more than just a practice of Yin yoga. This journey also arises from practising meditation, from psychotherapy, from group therapy work, from other forms of yoga. I feel that mind is more open and less attached. There has been a softening of rigidities around views. On occasion, I can deeply feel the interconnecting of all this, the web of life that is constantly being woven, the matrix which is making these manifestations of marvellous and mysterious wonders.
Prior to and overlapping my exploration of these particular practices, I devoted myself to changing the world. I could see the poverty and intense injustices of social structures. I felt the unfairness and the exclusions being imposed. I know too that all of this is temporary; of course, empires fall as well as rise. There are the jungle-clad ruins at Angkor Wat in Cambodia as a testament to this truth. In the 12th century, that city had a population of about 1,000,000 while London was 50,000. How times they are a changing.
I still see life with those eyes of changing the world but what I now know is that we have to be shifting stuff on many levels: inner as well as outer, connecting to above (the possibilities, the hopes, the potentials) as well as being grounded to below (this life with its sadnesses, its fears, its strengths).
I hope this long gestation and thorough attention to the words and the ways and the whys will be means of maintaining attentiveness and encouraging inquiry when reading Brightening Our Inner Skies. Words have been weighed and ways are examined through a testing of time.
The purpose is to persuade people to practise: practices of awareness, connection, slowness, compassion. Each of us brings our own pot to the feast. There is disappointment and joy, demoralisation and calmness, disillusionment and insight. This is a process of open-minded inquiry. We can cultivate kindness and resilience, we can encourage wisdom and spaciousness. We can overcome fear of other. Appreciation, gratitude, rejoicing. We can be love. It’s all there; we just have to look.
A commendation for Brightening Our Inner Skies
" In a warm voice, Norman shares his personal path through the body, heart, and mind, while also navigating the broader world of politics and care for others. This book tells Norman’s story, while also articulating the way yoga practice transforms our lives. Norman demonstrates how when we look inwards we find a vast universe and, as we tend to relationships and community, we realize we need to settle our own reactivity. ‘Inner’ and ‘outer’ transformation turn out to be one holistic process. I recommend this to anyone looking for depth in their practice." Michael Stone Yoga teacher, Buddhist teacher, author
Norman's book is available to purchase from the Shala for £17.50 or you can order it online here. Norman teaches yin yoga workshops monthly at the Shala.
Yin Yoga Workshops