Have you ever had your perceptions challenged? Every opened your heart to a stranger?

On the streets

On the way to surfing I pass 3 guys who are begging and living on the streets. They have beer, a dog called Bella and some sassy cheek. They can rattle pleasant holiday makers with their mischievous bravado, as they ask for their take away pizza or packet of chips. The truth is they’re doing no harm. They are challenging people’s perceptions, but they are just grown up boys, making their way in the world as best they can.

Bon Matin

Over the weeks we developed a happy relationship which largely consisted of a little banter, and fist bumping ‘bon matin’. I would joke with them that I had no money but could give them a smile (I was carrying only my board). One morning Bella’s owner, who Im going to call Ravi because I think it suits him, was sleeping curled up cuddling her. To see someone sleep in public, vulnerable like a child is very tender. Ravi has ‘boom’ written on his knuckles, which I liked and took to be friendly, he showed me the grenade on the back of his hand. I laughed and said it was too much. I asked Ravi if I could pet Bella  and I was dumbfounded to feel that Bella’s collar had inward facing one inch spikes, all around her neck. Why? No! Why? I asked. Because she’s a pit bull, she’s very dangerous came the answer. I left feeling a bit nauseous and unsure of everything. I took it to the waves, let it go, and kept the grief for Bella’s life experience. Despite being loved and loving, having spikes prod your neck every minute of the day must be utterly shit. Please tell me these collars don’t exist in Britain.

Give a little

On my last day I went over to give Ravi and the others some money. I used to be quite puritan about giving food not money, until I did the house build and didn’t know where the petrol money would come from to get to work the following week. Now I let go, and am happy to let others decide what is best for themselves. I had just come out from my last surf, wet, swimsuit on and carrying my board. One of the blokes asked for my number, which I laughed off. Ravi asked for a kiss. People are different, some are hungry, some are angry, some are sweet. Ravi had a sweetness I can’t describe. Despite keeping Bella in the worst collar I could imagine, he had an incredible sweetness. I gave him a cuddle and a kiss. A few minutes later he came after me. I went to him and we held hands which felt entirely right, just easy. He opened his heart in French. He was expressing gratitude and tenderness which I could understand despite having only ‘school girl French’. I could feel what he was saying and left tearful and touched deeply.

How is this yoga?

So why is this about yoga? My wonderful mentor Cathy Swan, at Yoga Scotland, has a very grounded approach to what yoga is for making us better to everyone. So this is a simple story to inspire you to see beyond the circumstances and to open your heart. Go to yoga, enjoy your class, but know the aim isn’t to be beautiful, it’s to meet the world more fully.