“One evening around the fire, the cicadas singing, friends of Don Pedro visited. Among them was Lulu, a yoga teacher from Mexico City who had moved to the village a few months earlier. She was looking for a space to start yoga classes.” It was the beginning of something simple and brilliant.
Every day there are more yoga teachers in the world and most schools are state-run. Here in Mexico, as in most parts of the world, the two things tend to remain separate, yet there is huge potential to create wonders by connecting them. Yoga is not simply about body flexibility and core strength. It’s presence in movement on the long road to inner-union and union among each other. As for state-run schools, they are both our great challenge and our great opportunity – to be inspired by alternative school models that understand that to educate, to educe, means to draw out, guiding younger people to listen deeply for their true calling in life, holding space for them to remain open and trusting, and for the unique gift they carry inside to rise up to the surface and shine upon the world. Within the blink of an eye, they will be leading the way, living their message.
As I continue my slow, winding ride up through the Americas back to Britain, I recently spent two and half months in a beautiful Mexican village near the town Tepoztlan. Nestled amid tree-covered craggy mountains it’s a magical-feeling place where the plumed serpent and Aztec creator deity, Quetzacoatl, is said to have been born. Yet, despite the magic of the surrounding nature, despite the warm welcome, it’s a village like many others in the world with the same old problems where customs are rarely questioned, the elders are few and the younger people are on a preset course from glowing presence into worry and fear and the destruction that follows.
I rented a simple place amid the trees and cockerels from the elder Don Pedro. It stood at the foot of an impressive cliff containing a giant natural doorway at its top called la ventana al cielo – the window to heaven. I loved it there, loved sitting on the roof with a cup of tea watching the vultures and eagles soar about the crags. One evening around the fire, the cicadas singing, friends of Don Pedro visited. Among them was Lulu, a yoga teacher from Mexico City who had moved to the village a few months earlier. She was looking for a space to start yoga classes. I suggested asking the village primary school. It had a great outside space undercover with a colourful paper mache dragon (Quetzacoatl) hanging from the rafters.
The profesora of yoga, Lulu
From that exchange something beautiful was born, something that can be done by any one of us, whether we’re travelling or, even better, based somewhere for a while – connecting local people for the benefit of all, encouraging things that help slow us down and get in touch with ourselves and those around us. A few days later I met the director of the school, Mariana, and within a couple of weeks we had bought yoga mats and Lulu was not only offering classes for parents, but giving ongoing free classes for the school children aged 6-12, myself a temporary helper.
Tourist visas being what they are, with Britain’s call growing stronger, the road finally beckoned. I tore myself away from that place. I love those people. The strongest impression left on me was of the youngest in the school, the six year olds and just how perfect they are – present, spontaneous, joyful, honest, adorable and how delicate this state is, the state we’re all journeying back to, one way or the other. Not just delicate in the sense of how easily smothered it is by the insecurity of others, but by its nature presence is delicate, like dragonfly wings, like the softest breath tingling through us, or ears attuned to birdsong. It is the state of magic, for magic is real and all about us, but it’s subtle. Said another way, it’s the state of gorgeous wildness. Our natural state. To venture into it, we too must be subtle and gentle. And what better message for the child in all of us – that the more present we are, the more together we are, the more gentle we are, the more magic we’ll see and feel.