The Human Bridge

Urdvadhanurāsana, Nuweiba, Sinai. Photo by Amal Ibrahim.

Today, as I lay on the treatment table for the second time with quite a special osteopath here in Sinai, I had such a powerful experience of synergy between my body receiving feedback, my mind tuning into that present moment, and my inhale allowing for that feedback to move into the body, while my exhale released tension and blockages out of my body. The good doctor seemed surprised at how quickly things were shifting. I feel, however, that ease in which my body can digest information is a product of the last 16 years of practicing yoga and of actively seeking a more holistic balance in my body, mind and heart. This human machinery, while imperfect–as evidenced by needing to see an osteopath in the first place, is actually well-oiled and working!

And I can’t help but want to share these thoughts:

Be astounded by the miracle that is the human body. It changes with quiet but consistent effort. It gets stronger, and more flexible with work and attention. It is communicative, sending signals when it needs either a push or more tenderness. It can also sound an alarm in case anything goes wrong. It can change shape while loyally holding one’s spirit. And It listens attentively, ready to absorb information (which is why we need to take care with what words and thoughts and images we feed it). It is ready to play and be a part the team.

I know that not everyone is going to feel the same, but I believe that the potential to have a vibrant connection to one’s body is always there and simply needs to be uncovered. The more we strip away at the layers (physical or not), the more the connection is enlivened. And while I do not claim to master that connection, I can say that I have felt enough of it to know that it is possible and truly amazing. The body is our vehicle for our lives and our experiences. We shouldn’t just love our body, we should adore it, take care of it, work on refining our connection with it.

I feel so grateful for the yoga practice because I didn’t have this kind of connection (or much at all) to my body when I started. I feel grateful for this practice of conscious breath, this embodying of self in different postures, and this tuning into stillness while in action. I feel grateful to meet genuine and well-learned healing professionals, who understand both the body and how to speak to the body. I feel grateful to be alive, to feel that I am still learning, still uncovering, still connecting, and that with every new adjustment there’s that little bit of extra opening for more yoga to happen.

On Holiday? How To Stay Motivated For Self-Practice

Here in Egypt, summers can be tricky for yoga practice.Many of our students have moved for the summer to places like the North Coast or along the Red Sea, or are busily shuttling between Cairo for the working week and away to the beaches for the weekend. In our case, here in Mysore Zamalek, our program is closed for August. Summer routines can be famously routine-less in these parts. What to do when we don’t have the usual support for our self-practice? This year, I’l have been self-practicing for 15 years, most of it without a home shala or a regular teacher. I understand the challenges; it can really be tough and there will no doubt be dips and peaks to one’s practice. Here are some tried and tested tips:

Set Realistic Goals
Be honest about what you can manage. Your yoga practice can also be flexible and bend with the changes and challenges in your life. If you cannot do your full practice, then do less. Adjust your expectations so that they can be realistically met.

Pair Up, Find a Yoga Partner
There is truly strength in numbers. Find a friend or a family member who would like to commit to the same minimum amount of time that you would like to be practicing. Make dates, remind each other of your goals, encourage each other to simply keep on practicing.

Set Up a Regular Routine
Finding the same time can help you stick to a healthy routine. If you have pockets of time in the morning, practice in the morning. If afternoons work best, then afternoons are best. If you can practice 3x a week, try to set a schedule for these days.

Make space
Assign yourself a special practice space in your home, where you can lay your mat down the night before. Or simply get your things ready, clothes, mat and all for you the following practice date. Small acts like this remind us of our intention to practice.

Be Flexible
Sometimes you will have to move your practice time, or maybe your practice location, other times you might have to do a shorter practice or switch a practice day. Don’t sweat it, practice teaches us different forms of flexibility and, often times, off the mat!

Practice Joyfully
Have fun. Practice with a light heart. Don’t allow yourself to get stressed about practice, seek it out with a healthy outlook and you will surely want to meet it easily each time.

Take a Class, Any Class
Really can’t practice on your own? Then take any class that’s available and works with your schedule. Yes, even if you’re a die-hard ashtangi. We take support wherever we can. And any yoga is better than none.

Wherever you are in your summer holiday practice, stay cool and simply do your best! And for our folks here in Mysore Zamalek: don’t worry, classes will start in a month, and the support will be there for you. Nothing is truly lost so long as you return to your mat. See you there!

Classes will resume Monday, September 5. Our regular schedule is Monday to Thursday Mysore-self practice 7:30-10:30am and Friday led class 8am and 9:30am. Mysore Zamalek is at Nūn Center, 4 Shafik Mansour, Zamalek, Cairo. Book your spot by emailing


I’ve gotten my fair share of emails and messages from both my own students and practitioners who don’t study with me asking for advice regarding training to be a teacher. I used to dread getting them, writing back with my honest feedback and feeling the slight awkwardness that ultimately I did not give a satisfactory answer. No, I don’t know so and so doing so and so TTC in fill-in-the-blank-idyllic-location. And, yes, I do think that if one wants to teach the traditional method of ashtanga yoga, that one should go to Mysore and study from the source.

Over the years, I have also had to reconcile my own unsettled feelings. I too, like many new teachers, took a TTC way before I was ready to teach. I’m glad I did it because it put me in the field of a great teacher and a great group of practitioners, which helped me get on track to developing a self-practice. Later, I assisted at another TTC for few years, which I don’t regret because it helped finance my early trips to Mysore and I also learned a lot from them. I have also been through my vigilantly–ironically so–anti teacher training phase citing my teacher’s ire for the commodification of yoga teaching. But I’ve also wondered, though, if it is enough to simply practice before your teacher, the way we qualify for the blessing to teach in Mysore.

Nowadays, I think there is a time and place for everything. And there are just so many roads leading towards yoga that it’s simply easier to celebrate them rather than being overly critical–emphasis on the “overly” because it is also ok to be critical. But, honestly, since I feel less dis-ease about it, I get approached a lot less on the topic and when I do I generally don’t feel bothered.

I am all for repopulating the planet with yoga teachers, however, I question the western mindset that often lead many down this path initially (myself, included). When we advance in our yoga practice, we look to the next level, and the next level for some appears to be teaching. And thus, we look for ways to become a teacher–and now there is a whole industry catering to this one desire.

What if we were simply more focused on being better students? What if we committed time, energy and attention to the daily study of yoga? What if we dove into it without expectation or desire for gain–which is kind of one of the defining factors of yoga in the first place? What if we trusted the teaching enough to lead us? Could we simply love the work without any end goal or certificate of completion? The study of yoga is endless. That’s what makes learning it so juicy, the nectar of the teaching just keeps on flowing. So long as you surrender to being a student! And, believe me, studying yoga will lead you somewhere and if you are meant to teach, if that is truly your karma, it will catch up with you.

Yoga In-Depth is my attempt to answer these questions. When I look back at the various yoga learning experiences that have enriched my life, whether it was working at a TTC or assisting in a mysore program or studying with my teacher in India, mentorship was present through all of these experiences and was a key to my yoga studies. I believe in this way of learning. I am so excited to start this new phase for our program. And it’s a real honor to go in this journey with a group of really dedicated practitioners.

If you are a dedicated ashtanga student with an established practice who is ready for more, please reach out to and they can send you more information on the Yoga In-Depth Mentorship. We also have a ZOOOM Q&A on August 15, 12n. Message Nūn and they’ll send you the Zoom Invite. See you then!