- Consecration of the Yogeshwar Linga at the Isha Ashram in India
- Mahashivratri with a million people at the Isha Ashram in India
- Teaching yoga on the beach in Costa Rica
- Leading the International Day of Yoga celebrations for the Indian Embassy in Bern
- Teaching at the World International Property Organization in Geneva,
as part of the Permanent Mission of India’s celebrations in Geneva
- Published feature article on yoga in the magazine “UN Special”
- Recommendation for the Prime Minister’s Award for Yoga
- Volunteering at Isha Foundation programmes and events
- Deepening my yoga practice and enhancing my teaching skills during the Hatha Yoga Teachers’ Upgrade
- Working alongside and sharing with other teachers and volunteers
- Doing my daily practices in a consecrated space and experiencing Sadhguru’s grace on a daily basis
Many many thanks to the people who have supported me throughout the year: friends and family, Isha meditators, other Isha Hatha Yoga teachers, participants, partners and wellwishers!
Please join with me to bring about a huge transformation in 2018! Through yoga we can enhance our own lives and the lives of our entire communities.
"UN Special" is the monthly magazine of the United Nations in Geneva. With a printed circulation of 10,500 plus an online version, it informs its readers on topics ranging from peace-keeping to poverty reduction, human rights and natural disaster management.
In the September issue, yoga takes centre stage. In her feature article, Isha Hatha Yoga teacher Michelle Mayes discusses what yoga is and what it’s not, how it began and how it is that yoga has become a practice that diplomats and civil servants are now making use of to enhance their professional lives.
Read the full article to see how the Yoga Day celebrations in Geneva are overturning preconceptions about yoga, and find out how yoga can even help to reverse climate change.
Written 13th April 2017
Exactly one month ago, I was watching the moon rising across Lac Leman, from the dining room of Indian Ambassador Gill’s residence, in Geneva, as we discussed yoga. I’d arrived back from the ashram only two days before, and on returning home after our dinner, I just had time to lie briefly in shavasana before packing my case again and returning to the airport for a 5am check-in, this time for Costa Rica.
Three continents in less than a week – and all for yoga. The life of an Isha Hatha Yoga teacher is never dull! Just one day after arriving back in Europe from Latin America, I was hit by a car, so finally I now have no choice but to stop a while and reflect on all that’s been happening.
Costa Rica brought lots of firsts for me, and some amazing memories. The moment after the first Angamardana class, when I’d been doing demo to Guillermo’s instructions in Spanish and someone asked me, surprised: “I heard you don’t speak Spanish?!” Yes, that’s true. Or the experience of teaching Bhakti Sadhana on a beach, just before a very beautiful sunset unfurled across the sky. Costa Rica was definitely a wonderful place to connect with both the “Ha” and the “Ta” of Hata Yoga. The cycles of the moon serve as reminders of all that has happened in the last month.
Well, I am almost surrounded by things halfway done for my trip to India (I leave on Monday), but I’m nevertheless taking a break for reflection, because sometimes it’s important to do that and especially now, because my life itself is also halfway done! It feels like a hugely significant time – both for me in my own life and for the period that is just beginning for humanity.
Sadhguru says that if you live for eighty-four years and three months, you would have completed seven solar cycles and one-thousand-and-eight lunar cycles. If you do this, then you can break a certain bond with the earth. Very easily, with very little assistance, you can go beyond the cycles of birth and death.
So, in yogic terms, I became officially middle-aged with my birthday yesterday! It’s funny because one of the quotes I remember most from the teacher training was Sadhguru saying “Where is the other half?! You are not half a life. You are a complete piece of life.” So, I am aware that I have everything within me that’s needed to attain to the ultimate, and I simply have to find access to them, and learn how to use them properly. The practices Sadhguru teaches are definitely taking me in that direction.
At the same time, my life could be roughly half-lived, though, of course, you never know when you are going to die! But the idea that I could be halfway there makes me stop and think about what I have done, where I am going, and what work still needs to be done.
So, for the AdiYogi consecration Sadhguru’s going to do this Mahashivarathri to take place when I am 42 seems like an enormous blessing for me. What a gift, what an opportunity! He also says that the next 12 years are going to be full of bounty. I can only imagine the impact of the AdiYogi’s presence, once its energy is unleashed!
I have a small consecrated AdiYogi in my home, and it’s a very powerful presence, although it’s only one foot high. I can only imagine the reverberations from a face 112 feet tall! Sadhguru says:
Nearly everyone who knows me remarks that there’s something different about me, because I do yoga. Most of them say they would like to have what I have. And yet, only a tiny percentage actually make it to a programme. I often wonder what it is that’s holding people from back from reaching out for something they recognise as valuable, that’s accessible to all. Today I had an insight.
Today I finally gave in to pressure to update my mobile phone. My old one had served me very well. It had done everything I needed it to, which, honestly wasn’t very much. But nowadays, there are people for whom email, land line, mobile, Skype, Facebook and Twitter are not enough. Unless you have WhatsApp, they won’t speak to you! And my bank now won’t allow me to make transfers from home unless I have a Smart Phone. I’d also recognised that certain apps could save me a lot of time and energy. So, I went into the phone shop, SIM card in hand, and asked them to cut it. It needed trimming to fit the new phone.
As they cut it, I had a moment of trepidation. That was the moment of no return. You can’t have 2 SIM cards for the same phone number. Once my SIM was cut, I couldn’t back out and reinsert it into my old phone. What if I couldn’t learn how to use it in time for my 5am alarm call? What if I needed to contact someone urgently, before I’d had the chance to learn my way round? [This did happen!] Would I have to relearn everything that had been automatic, and would it be worth it?
There are actually many analogies with starting yoga. Yoga is a science, a profound technology, which allows us to access things that can seem like sci-fi when you don’t understand them. It opens up a whole new world, which is wide open. Boundless, full of infinite possibilities. But what if you like the safety of the handrail, and don’t feel ready to step into the unknown?
When you start proper yoga, it reshapes you in a subtle way, so that you simply don’t fit into your old habits – or they don’t fit you. You become able to release yourself from so many things that bind you – likes and dislikes, limitations and fossilized behaviours. This is liberating. It allows space for something new and wonderful to take shape, to blossom within you.
But it can also be a little daunting. And I think people sense that. It’s that that stops them taking the step they know they desire.
The thing is that at every stage of our growth, we have to leave behind what we perceive as security if we want to find freedom. How else would a baby stop crawling on the ground and walk upright? I remember the time my nephew first learnt to jump! Even a small jump from a single step took a lot of bravery.
When we’re children, we have our parents to encourage us, and to promote our development. But once we become adults, there are so few people around us who have taken the next step that it seems “normal” just to stop growing. Once we have sufficient know-how to deal with the fundamentals of survival – getting enough resources to eat, sleep in shelter and clothe ourselves, we stop looking for more demanding needs, like finding fulfilment. Instead, we settle for fleeting pleasure, entertainment and distractions.
Just recalling a very special day in my life. In April 2012, Sadhguru spoke at the Institute for Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland.
It was at the end of the day, after all the guests had left, and the volunteers were ready to go, too, that Sadhguru walked over to me, spoke to me, and took my hands in his.
I remembered him saying that his own guru had never even touched him - he had used his staff to touch his forehead. I couldn't work out why Sadhguru decided to come over to me, let alone to hold my hands like that. I felt - and still feel - completely unworthy.
It was that moment that dissolved all my doubts about what I wanted to do with my life. I applied to the Isha Hatha School of Yoga to become an Isha Hatha Yoga Teacher, and decided to dedicate myself to making his teachings available to as many as possible.
I had very little time to make the arrangements to be away for 6 months, but somehow everything fell into place incredibly smoothly, like life was helping me to make it to the ashram.
The 21 week teacher training is a process of self-transformation at a very deep level, as a basis for offering those same life-changing techniques to others. Halfway through, I felt like I was being
completely destroyed! Later, I came to appreciate that there’s only room for something new and wonderful if some of the trash is taken out. Destruction is a prerequisite for – or prelude to - creation.
What a phenomenal journey it's been! Constantly striving to be worthy of his grace, which he anyway bestows without judgement or distinction. He always says he’s available to all who are willing.
I want to reach out to as many as possible, to connect as many people as possible to Sadhguru, so that their lives can be filled with grace, joy and an intensity of experience nothing else in life can match!