A Flock of Yoga Birds

Five reasons for the bird-themed pages, posts and yoga classes:

1. 2014 Yoga Bird Week

Three African Kingfishers in Kruger Park, South Africa by Glen Carrie at Unsplash
Three African Kingfishers on a wire masquerading as Kookaburras thanks to Glen Carrie at Unsplash.

I designed a four-week set of themed classes for LE SPA at the Maritim Hotel in Mellieħa in the fall of 2014 titled “Plan B Yoga” [3.4 Mb PDF]. Week two featured a sequence of bird poses from Flying Bird to Proud Pigeon, Penguin Pose to the Gálapagos Blue Footed Booby posture, Crow, Peacock and King Pigeon. (I was “winging it” with the poses shown above in italics — they’re not by “the book.”) We had a flock of a lot of fun with it so I thought I’d see if I could stretch the idea across an entire website and do some good in the process — see BirdLife Malta short story below.

2. BirdLife Malta

Scopoli's Shearwater rafting off Ta’ Ċenċ cliffs, Gozo, Malta
Scopoli’s Shearwater (Garnija) rafting at sunset near their Ta’ Ċenċ cliffs nesting area in Gozo

The oldest environmental Non-Governmental Organization in the country — among its host of other initiatives, BirdLife Malta serves to protect the Yelkouan Shearwater (Garnija in Maltese) through its LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija project. 10% of this Shearwater’s global population nests on Ta’ Ċenċ cliffs in Gozo. You can get up close to watch them come home to roost in the evening on a BirdLife Malta summer sunset boat trip here. I send one euro from each class fee, plus all the proceeds from the Yoga for Kindness classes (which are temporarily on hiatus pending a more spacious location) to them as a kind of retainer for my use of their avian yogi models.

3. Munchies’ Yoga Birds

A couple of yoga birds patiently waiting for bits of biscotti at Munchies, Mellieħa Bay, Malta
A couple of yoga birds patiently waiting for bits of biscotti at Munchies, Mellieħa Bay, Malta

Munchies, Mellieħa Bay is about a 1400m swim from the flat where I teach yoga — directly across the bay behind the top rung of that blue chair in the photo. I’ve spent many a magical morning drinking Canadianos (a coffee that’s similar to an Americano but slightly bigger, naturally sweeter and made with more love) and/or meditating on the beach there with the creative minds behind Fonts Café and Turbulence Zero.
Please contact and correct me if I’m wrong but I think the two posing yoga birds above are resident Zitting Cisticola (Bufula ta’ l-Imrewħa). There was another one with a punk hairdo who practised his own modified Warrior III pose but I never got a picture of him… like the proverbial fish that got away.

4. A Flock of Words

Scan of the beginning and end of the poem, "To Paint the Portrait of a Bird" from David Mackay's, "A Flock of Words"

My uncle, David Mackay, authored a book called “A Flock of Words; An Anthology of Poetry for Children and Others” in 1969. So far my Flock of Yoga Birds is as close as I’ve come to following his flight path. You can borrow “A Flock of Words” from the Open Library and read Jacques Prévert’s beautiful poem, “To Paint the Portrait of a Bird,” part of which is shown above, in its entirety.

5. bird by bird — Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Cover of "bird by bird" by Anne Lamott

And last but not least, just like Savasana, the premise behind the title of Anne Lamott’s 1995 bestseller, “bird by bird — Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” also just happens to be the perfect premise for a bird-themed yoga class.

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
Anne Lamott