The last few days I’ve taught yoga a little differently. Same postures, same speed but I’ve added something else to my dialogue. I’ve clearly articulated why we’re doing what we’re doing. People noticed. I noticed. Postures were much steadier. Savasana was much deeper. The calm was much calmer.

Intention. You powerful beast. 

It reminded me of the great battle of 2006. I had a run-in with a group of hippies. I took eight weeks off following a long stint at sea. I met up with a friend just outside London. We hadn’t seen each other for a while. She’d always been a bit of a hippie. I’d no sooner arrived when her new “friends” blocked me at every turn and every word. They heard I was in the military and it didn’t sit well with their free-lovin’ vibes.

I lasted a few days before the conversation got real. Really real.

Let’s be clear, I told them. I joined the defence force not the attack force. I joined to promote love, not war.  I joined because I don’t want to live in a world or a country, or within a community, a family or a body that doesn’t have healthy boundaries. That doesn’t stand up and yell when sh*t goes down and that doesn’t have the empathy to throw someone a lifeline. Sometimes promoting love requires unconventional, hard and not so pretty actions but it’s still in the name of love.

Let’s also be clear, my hippy friend, that you’re still a follower. In your quest to be all about free love and individuality, you actually look like everyone around you. A tribe of free-lovin’ hippies who all have dreadlocks, who collectively don’t shave and who all eat vegan. Have you noticed you’re all wearing Sea Shepard shirts? You spend your life protesting and fighting for your right to be an individual and yet you’re surrounded by replicas.

And one more thing. You don’t seem to able to extend this universal love that you speak of, to me. The fact that I challenge your beliefs and actions seems to preclude me from civility, respect and love.

They were fighting words. It was on. Good time for me to get back to my little tribe of sailors.

How interesting that the sailors, with their tattoos, their girl in every port and their all-night benders were far more accepting and respectful of my yoga mat, “self-help” books, crystals and weird conversations than the free-range hippies were.

These days I spend 35 plus hours a week immersed in yoga. Back then it was an hour or so a day, woven around rifle cleaning, pretend man overboards, fresh-water wash downs and tactical manoeuvres. But time hasn’t made me any more   of a “yogi” now than back when I wore overalls and lived on a warship. I still do it for the same reasons.

Any technique, whether veganism, yoga or tactical manoeuvres, if executed without philosophical understanding, without a firm intention are shadowy and flippant at best. Inauthentic. Completely transparent.

Intention. You powerful beast. You win everytime.