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This weekend I spent at Mumbai’s Yoga Institute on a 2 day specialist course.  My skills were honed and my body twisted into a variety of contortions (All for the calming price of a tenner).


Now the Yoga Institute is a little blissful haven, an ashram located right in the centre of Mumbai’s mayhem.


Unfortunately though for the institute it was built several years ago, before there was an airport and now resides directly under the flight path. Thunderous roars crash into the peaceful karma like a three legged randy bull in Harrod’s Royal Doulton dept after a Christmas delivery. But, like any a city’s noise, you soon get used to it and even welcome the pauses to meditate on the topic of  meditation.


Apart from the usual array of yoga techniques I found myself staring at candles, with the instructions that I was not allowed to blink. The ironic thing was that as soon as I was told not to blink, I blinked…and I was doing so well. It is all part of focusing the mind on a single point and cleansing the eyes through the tears that start to stream down your face.


Absolutions are an essential part of the of the yogi lifestyle, so with red eyes I moved onto the next daily routine, Jala Neti. To but this technique into its most basic form it is snorting lukewarm, salty water up both of your nostrils and marvel at the gunk that rapidly escapes from you nose, eyes and mouth. It is an enema for the nasal passage and sinuses or saline nasal irrigation to be exact.


Let’s face it the nose is designed to filter all the pollution and bugs that lurk in the air and as such why not give this filter a good clear out. And I have to say it is brilliant.


Yogis dub this as one of the best things you can do in your life. As well as physical, psychological and spiritual benefits it can cure, or help prevent sinus infection; allergy problems; respiratory disorders; asthma; hay fever;  deafness; migraine; giving up smoking; depression; mental tensions; epilepsy; hysteria; temper tantrums; sore throats and the common cold. It stimulates better powers of visualization and concentration and gives clarity to the mind.


Pranayama or good breathing is an essential part of meditation and yoga. As such a clear nasal passage goes a long way to aid this. Furthermore, Jala Neti subtly stimulates the olfactory bulb – the psychic centre, known as the Ajna Chakra and yogis believe the right and left nostrils need to be in balance to ensure a healthy nervous system and as such a healthy body and mind. 


So next time you are cleaning your teeth, think about giving those sinuses their daily enema. You may never look back.




Free yoga in the meditation room the sign purported. Ok, so I do a bit a Yoga, a bit of Ashtanga a bit of Hatha, a bit of this could not hurt. The meditation room was in fact a room in a nursery, it’s walls adorned with poorly painted effigies of Mickey and Minnie Mouse and at one end of the room  a shrine covered in boxes of cakes and the effigy of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. A tad more spiritual than her American counterparts or so I am led to believe. Shri Mataji is the guru for Sahaja yoga meditation. The clientèle, a bunch of guys in their 70s, a smattering of house wives and this lanky white guy, yours truly. Hmm, I should have got out then, but heh it was free. However, I could not see much of what I call yoga happening in this crammed space.


So after a brief introduction I am placed on the concrete floor and sit through an hour and half of chanting, odd hand movements and a poor tape recording of Shri Mataji herself, complete with background traffic noise. Now meditation has never been my strong point, and my mind begins to wander. Have they cleared copyright on Mickey Mouse, is it safe for my leg to go to sleep for this long without gaining deep vain thrombosis, can the anus really get pins and needles, what are the cakes doing there. I am then prodded by one of the old guys, because my hand posture isn’t right.


After this agonizing torment we carry out a ritual of rubbing left and right hands above our heads and are asked if we feel hot or cold emanating from our foreheads. And I tell you what, my right hand felt warmth and my left felt cold. Spooky, have I just experienced some spiritual awakening or was it the location of the fan behind me. We are then told to focus on the effigy of Shri Mataji and our minds will clear. And again for the briefest of moments I feel it, for the briefest second my mind is not fixated on the cakes.


We then carry out some more chanting and the cakes are distributed. A collection of nut things, marzipan and sugary string. If I come again, I will bring a lovely Battenberg or some of Mr Kipling’s finest selection that I so used to enjoy on Sunday evenings in front of the Antiques Road Show.


A lovely bunch of people, with a good selection of sweet products, but i don’t think Sahaja yoga meditation is for me. I read once that the purpose of doing yoga is to gain the ability to remain in the same position for a long time. Well I love yoga, but my butt is just too bony for sitting still for an hour and half. on a concrete floor. 


It has entered my mind to take the opportunity to try any spiritual session, with whichever guru there is. I am not really fussy which guru, any will do.  As long as I bring a pillow and they provide cake. if you like cake.



That heat thing, now that bugs me.







Some people say that that was the quickest mid life crisis they have ever seen. Hit fourty and quit my job to go travelling, bang just like that. Well I actually handed in my notice two days before my birthday, so I guess it was just, slightly, pre mid life crisis. Furthermore, I believe that I will live to 93 so that pushes the crisis well into the realm of pre pre mid life crisis.

What is more, lets face it, life is full of crisis – the type of crisis that is easy to deny. Crammed on public transport as we suffer a job we don’t really want to do, only to pay for our overpriced existence. Violence in the papers, war, death and plague spurting from televisions, bread going stale etc.

Crisis is everywhere. We can hide this crisis and place it under the banner of “Not my problem” or “It is the way that it is” or “Things will get better”. We can accept that crisis is not part of the crisis. Most importantly we have to question, does it make me feel good?

So every good plan needs a plan.

Quit job and work out 3 month notice. This will allow the company plenty of time to re structure itself and figure out what on earth I did for them.

Carry out one month TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign Language) course. It’s always good to have a safety net as fall back. Also it makes my English betterer and will aid in learning something foreign.

Move to India. Everything about the country facinates me. Plus, I love curry and yoga.

In India I intend to carry out atleast 3 months charity work. Not too sure of the reasons behind this yet. Whether it is: maybe I am a good person or maybe I need the impression that I am a good person or maybe I do these things and become a good person. This I am not sure of.

After the charity work, for whatever its reasons, I intend to travel. I want to see as much of India as possible, spend time in Ashrams, travel to Nepal and go to Everest base camp, travel to Myanmar (Burma) and catch a boat to the Andaman and Nicobar islands. 

Carrying out Yoga, photography, writing and getting close to the people and culture are essential to the plan.

Over the coming months this plan will evolve. Place names, time and goals will hang off it like a brightly decorated Christmas tree. Eventually there will be a structure to the plan where all its integral parts will exist in symbiotic to one another with enough space to grow and be fluid.

Planning the plan builds the dream in the head. The dream becomes the future and ultimately becomes the past.

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