A Yoga Hog
“Many old Indian stories tell us about virtuous sages and their wonderful worlds. Everything fascinated them: shining stars, tall mountains, flowing rivers, fierce beasts, beautiful birds, even little grasshoppers. These pious men lived close to nature….. foremost among them was….Sage Patanjali”
(Yoga for Children, Swati & Rajiv Chanchani)
Luckily my good friend and teacher, Zoe, felt the same way. Yoga is so deeply connected to the natural world around us. Many poses relate to animals, birds and insects, while others honour trees, the sun and the moon. Together we devised a class that took these poses and integrated them with simple, fun, informative stories about our planet which we read from ‘Yoga for Children’ by Swati and Rajiv Chanchani. We even created a hedgehog pose! “Shalyakanthah” is the Sanskrit word for hedgehog or porcupine and so came “shalyakanthasana” which was a cross between a kneeling forward bend and a tortoise! Try saying it too!!
I was also reminded of the time Guruji adopted a tigress cub at Mysore Zoo. He said: “When I was touring the zoo, the authorities asked me to bless the tigers. They immediately touched my heart. To make the blessings meaningful, I instantly decided to adopt the two. “When we talk about health, it involves all our fellow beings. It is our social duty and moral responsibility to safeguard animals. Wildlife conservation is the need of the day and people must understand its importance.” (Yoga Rahyasa Vol 16 No 1 2009). Ten years on and still so true.
Abbi gave an excellent talk about the life of a hedgehog, how we can care for them and what to do if we find a distressed or injured hog. Her passion, enthusiasm and care was so evident and we all learnt a great deal.
We even had a special ‘Love Your Hog’ tshirt, designed by Kiki Wellness, to help spread the ‘Hog’ word. Lots of people wore these on the day, or wore autumnal red & green and some even braved hedgehog leggings!! Over 70 dedicated Iyengar students came, of all abilities, and spent a joyful time connecting with nature.
There was, of course, a prize for the best ‘hedgehog’ cake! The competition was entered with great enthusiasm and students, Jane Wright, won first prize of a yoga workshop and Wendy Sharp won a free yoga class. All our brilliant cake-makers went home with a bag of hedgehog food!
And, student generosity continued to flow as people donated beautiful jewellery in the shape of hedgehogs, home-grown fig trees and a cuddly hog to win on our Lucky Hog Dip!
We chose to run our event at the end of October. Autumn is a vital time of year for hogs as they build up reserves for winter, look for hibernation nests and have to survive the perils of Fireworks Night. The whole event was free with donations and people unable to come also gave generously. Our charity buckets were filled with an outstanding £660 divided equally between The Bellur Trust and The Iford Meadows Hedgehog Rescue Centre near Christchurch, Dorset. Abbi funds this mainly from her own funds and donations from hedgehog lovers. My dear family, good friends and supportive husband gave their time willingly to decorate, welcome people and serve those delicious ‘hog’ cakes! Thank you all very much.
Remember there are many simple things we can do in our own gardens and green spaces – providing food and water, creating small gaps in our fence so they can forage or even creating a hog house for protection, hibernation or keeping young. At this time of year, if you see a small hog out in daylight, it could be in trouble so contact your local rescue centre for advice. And, on that note…. I offer you this happy ending….
On 18 November, we saw a young hog in daylight by our hog house. Abbi was called. Inside the house we found a mum with two little hoglets. It is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The babes were too small to survive winter and are now safe, warm and well in Abbi’s ‘hogspital’. Mum is still in her nest and able to focus on her own hibernation.
Thank you Abbi, Guruji, Everyone.
Elaine Rees-Rockey, Dorset Teacher
I’m a big wildlife lover and I was greatly saddened to learn how numbers of our native hedgehogs have dropped dramatically in the UK over recent years. “What can I do, I thought”? In an effort to do ‘something’, I looked at the local wildlife trust website, bought a ‘Hogitat’, put food and water out, borrowed a night camera and was rewarded with… not 1, not 2 but THREE of these beautiful wild creatures one evening in my garden!
I quickly learnt there is much we can do to help. I also realised that there are some amazing individuals, quietly working away to help these animals, often with very little funding. I had been dreaming of ways to try and raise awareness and when I heard of an excellent talk by the founder of our local rescue centre, Abbi, that was it. I decided to put together my love of hogs and passion for teaching yoga! And so a ‘Yoga Hog’ was born!