An old printing press gave me a frisson of history – how does that relate to yoga?

Something you might not know about me is that I spent decades as a Historian. I researched, digging into the past, putting puzzle pieces together to create a picture of what happened way back then. Sometimes the pieces were murky and sometimes there were holes in the puzzle but I loved creating a coherent picture. I’ve always been interested in how to connect to the post and in what we receive from days gone by. I love actually being able to touch it and get that frisson of History.

Back in the mid-nineties I went with my father to his native Hungary. I’d been there with him a number of times prior but this was the first time I’d visited since the change. It was also our last trip there.  We stayed in a little flat in Buda and I enjoyed going to the Farmers Market to get wonderful fresh fruit and veg. It was spring and the weather was lovely so we spent a lot of time outside walking and enjoying the city, chatting about the Hungary of dad’s childhood and Hungary then. We spent long, languid evenings with family friends I hadn’t seen in ages enjoying a leisurely dinner.

Dad and I were also avid museum-goers and liked nothing more than an afternoon spent at a museum followed by a brisk walk to shake out the cobwebs and then a pastry or two with tea or coffee, the better to chew over our experience. The museum visit that gave me an incredible pulse of History, right from back in the day, left us with a lot to discuss.

There was a printing press visible as we entered the next exhibition room. I went over to have a look at it – lingering, fascinated. The older lady sitting in the room spoke to my father animatedly in Hungarian for quite a while. Somehow she sensed its importance to me.

‘She said’, my father told me, ‘that this is the actual printing press the famous Hungarian poet Sandor Petofi used to print up his call to action poem Nemzeti Dal which he then declaimed on the steps of the Hungarian National Museum, sparking the 1848 Hungarian Revolution.’

‘What’s more’, dad continued, ‘it’s still working and she says she’d help you print some copies.’

I could hardly compute and then couldn’t believe my luck – or was it simply luck.

I put my hand on this old, heavy, massive printing press and through its chill I felt a shot of electricity charge into my body, giving a connection to the people who gathered clandestinely, risking their freedom to bring about a better world. The ink squelched, the large gears turned smoothly – finally the paper peeled off. I held the poem in my hand, the words strong and black, formed in exactly the same way as those women and men had done nearly a century and a half before. 

I always feel the pulse of history through my veins. It’s part of what attracts me to yoga. I love learning about yoga not just through today but also researching what yoga was and how people practiced it back through the centuries, seeing it through a different lens. It gives a breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding and a way to gather yoga so it’s relevant to today that has infused my own practice and can enrich yours, giving a connection to yourself and your body so you can step forward into midlife with clarity and confidence and zest. 

Find a translation of Nemzeti Dal here…/

Find a short digest for the 1848 revolutions that swept Europe here.…/The-Revolutions-of-1848

Find a more in depth discussion here.

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