A decade of foundations
How the past ten years can define the next
By Scott Johnson
Okay, so it’s not actually the end of the decade.
That will be on 31st December 2020. But when we move into a new calendar era, the ’20’s’, it feels like a good time to look back. I also know I’ve already shared a ten year blog this past year, but for this one I wanted to just share memories. Particular memories of mine that have stood out. This particular year feels like a momentous one and there have been some notable changes happening in the Ashtanga yoga community, so the movement into 2020 and beyond feels significant. This moment feels like a good time for me to reminisce (I am nothing if not rose-tinted…) as the next ten years begins. Sharing my genuine gratitude for all the things and people I have been connected to and involved with over the past ten years feels important to me. It has been a defining period of my life
10 years does seem like a long time. Yet in the scheme of things, when you have been teaching at the same time, on the same days, when you are doing something you love dearly, it doesn’t seem like it. It just becomes 10 years. It’s a day to day thing that became 3651 days. Teaching and running Stillpoint Yoga London really is work where it can feel like time doesn’t exist and that’s because I’ve loved every single moment of it. All the people who I’ve connected with over the decade have had an impact.
Who would have thought in 2010, having started on this Stillpoint adventure in 2009, that we would still be here in London Bridge thriving on 31st December 2019. It’s been 10 years that has defined me personally and a decade that I will never forget. The friendships I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned from both adversity and joy. Meeting so many great people each day has helped me so much to grow.
These are just a few of the moments that stand out from the past 10 years –
- We’ve changed venues six times since 2010 but have always stayed in London Bridge. It was our time at Guy’s Campus and use of the three large accessible practice rooms right opposite London Bridge station that allowed us to truly flourish and evolve.
- Including Ozge and myself, we have only had seven long term teachers who have brought such light and energy to the shala – Maria, Lee, Laura, Andy, Narmin, Wendy and Sarah.
- In 2011 we had my first philosophy teacher Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati deliver four evenings of philosophy, the only time we’ve run a philosophy only workshop.
- We sadly lost Ozge, who passed away in 2012. It was such a loss. We hosted a week of memorial sessions that will stay with me forever. We sang Kirtan with Nikki Slade, 45 of us practiced 108 sun salutations together in Ozge’s memory, John Scott came and taught a memorial class. Our community was deeply shaken but that deep loss has defined the way SYL has moved since.
- It was very soon after Ozge’s passing that Louise supported me in giving up all my other work to focus solely on the development of Stillpoint. This was a momentous point in time for me.
- Randomly on a few mornings in 2012 we had Manju Jois teaching mysore in one room and John Scott teaching in another. John had come to practice with Manju, who was teaching at Stillpoint for the first time in London, and was helping me out by looking after the SYL class while I was looking after Manju. That was such a great time. Interestingly, Manju and John came together for a memorable combined 5 day intensive in 2017. But more importantly John, and in the earlier years Lucy Crawford, has been a defining support for Stillpoint over the last 10 years. We deeply thank them for their love and generosity over the years.
- A memorable workshop was delivered by the late Michael Stone in 2013, who agreed to come to London for a midweek intensive because I had badgered him so much…
- We began hosting our annual Spring Gathering in 2014. That first one, interestingly, had John Scott and Matthew Remski delivering asana and philosophy over the weekend. However, the Spring Gathering connection that Kia Naddermier, Greg Nardi and myself have fostered since we first taught together in 2015 has been such a special part of the last decade for me.
- In 2016 and 2017 we hosted the John Scott Yoga Community Teachers CPD, which was a beautiful coming together of the JSY teaching community to share and learn with each other.
- We have hosted so many national and international teachers, many on an annual basis: John Scott, Lucy Crawford, David Keil, Liz Lark, Nikki Slade, Ranchor Prime, Michael Stone, Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati, Jeffrey Armstrong, Matthew Remski, Joey Miles, Greg Nardi, Kia Naddermier, Philippa Asher, Manju Jois, Anthony ‘Prem’ Carlisi, Eddie Stern, Martin Aylward, Peg Mulqueen, Jock Orton, Helen McCabe, Andy Gill.
- The most successful and long term teacher that we have hosted has to be David Keil, who has come every year since 2010 and has become a close friend of ours. He really is part of the SYL furniture and we love him dearly.
- This past year we released The Stillpoints Podcast, a series of meaningful and deep conversations with SYL regulars, friends and inspirations.
- Also, we beta tested our new education programme, affiliated to Amāyu Yoga, that will be launched in 2020.
There are so many other small moments in the SYL practice room that I have missed (like when I burnt my hand on a candle and ended up in the Burns Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital).
Past and Future Foundations
But, and most importantly, it’s been our practitioners who have been the foundation of it all. Everyone who has walked through the door whether for the morning classes, a workshop or retreat, who has shown their support in the way we teach yoga. It has been our privilege to help them. So as we move into the ‘twenties’, with the pathways we are forging through our new education programme and the way we are moving to help people evolve how they practice, it is this that we will always hold onto. The memories of how we have met practitioners in the past help us to keep learning how to meet new ones in the future. To always interact with people each day in a way that helps. To always support practitioners to become more than they think they can be. And to hopefully contribute to making the world a little more beautiful, even just for a moment. Continuing to offer an opportunity to wonder at the beauty of life, at the beginning of a day.
These are our foundations. They always were, they always will be.
As we let go of the 2010’s, let’s see what the 2020’s brings. Come join us…