An Interview with Jilly Shipway

1. Your new book is Yoga Through the Year, which teaches how to connect your yoga practice to the changing seasons. What inspired you to write the book?

I was spurred on to write the book because I'd been studying how to relate yoga to the changing seasons for over ten years, and I really wanted to share this transformative way of working with others. I knew from my own experience, and reports back from my students and website followers, how beneficial this way of working is.

My route into a seasonal yoga approach was unusual; I was spurred on by my curiosity about an unanswered question, which was: "If, over the millennia, yoga had been handed down from mother to daughter through a female lineage, what would an authentic women's yoga be like?"

Patanjali is considered to be the "Father" of yoga, and over the millennia yoga has been handed down from father to son, through a male lineage. I asked myself that if Patanjali had had a sister, what is the yoga she would have handed down to us? And if her wisdom had been included in the yoga canon, how would we be different, both on and off our yoga mats? During a period of meditation, I asked (an imaginary) Patanjali's sister for guidance on creating an authentic, united yoga. This is the answer that came back to me: "Listen to the Earth—that's all. Listen to the Earth." Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is divided into four Padas, and this gave me the idea to divide my inquiry into one pada for each season of the year: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. And that's how the seed of Seasonal Yoga was born.

2. Why are the Earth's cycles so important and empowering?

They are so important because through connecting with nature and the cycle of the seasons we can find balance in our yoga practice and in our life. When we learn how to work with the prevalent energy of each season, we can develop an authentic practice that makes us healthier and happier. I've found this way of working has transformed my yoga practice and my life.

Modern technology has many benefits; it connects us to friends and family, and we can communicate with like-minded people all over the globe. At the same time, we can become ungrounded when we're always turned-on and tuned-in to our devices. When we disconnect from our own and the Earth's natural rhythms our health can suffer. The seasonal yoga approach can provide a counterbalance to this, and when we marry seasonal awareness with our yoga practice a path is revealed that leads to a saner, healthier, more balanced, and harmonious way of living.

3. In what ways can we adapt our yoga practices to connect with the seasons?

As we become more experienced at recognizing the prevalent pushing or yielding energy of the season, we can fine-tune our ability to choose yoga practices that balance our own energy flow. For example, during the autumn and the winter there's a natural tendency to want to hibernate, so we might honor this by choosing restful, restorative yoga poses. On the other hand, we might also want to choose energizing poses to boost our happy hormones and ward off the winter blues. Whereas in spring to summer, during the busy growing period, our yoga practice can help us to stay grounded, and help us to stay connected to our inner wisdom whilst we take action in the world.

4. Do you need to be a seasoned yogi to use the practices in Yoga Through the Year? Or are beginners able to use the book, as well?

The Seasonal Yoga approach is for everybody! The practices are easy to follow and accessible. You don't need to be super-fit or hyper-flexible to do them. You won't be asked to tie yourself in knots or to get into impossible, pretzel-like positions. Of course, if you want more information about a yoga pose, it's easy to find with a quick internet search using the pose name. Although, if you are new to yoga and unfamiliar with the poses described, you might want to think about attending a class to allow you to learn the positions correctly.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from Yoga Through the Year?

I hope that readers will gain the confidence to bring a seasonal approach into their yoga practice and their life, and in turn this will empower them to become their own life coach. When you align your energy and intentions with the season, you no longer feel that you are swimming against the tide; you're able to go with the flow of life more.

In my book, Yoga Through the Year: A Seasonal Approach to Your Practice, the reader will find yoga practices that will give them a way of keeping fit, flexible, calm, and energized all year round, as well as mindfulness exercises, visualizations, meditations, yoga poses and sequences that are specially designed for each season, and they'll also learn how to personalize the practices to fit their needs all year long.

I also hope that their seasonal exploration will help them to feel a deep sense of connection to the earth and to themselves, allowing them to access a deep source of wisdom that empowers them to act in a loving and compassionate way towards themselves and this beautiful planet that spins us through the seasons.

About Jilly Shipway

Jilly Shipway (Shropshire, UK) is a qualified British Wheel of Yoga teacher with more than thirty years of teaching experience. She has been studying the chakras and integrating chakra-inspired yoga practices into her own ...

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