Sting March 2017 Tour
Name: Gordon Matthew Summer, CBE | Age: 65
Back in 1979 his new age punk face went everywhere with me in my silver locket and now, in Hammersmith Apollo in April 2017, Sting still has my heart racing like a teenager 37 years later.
Forget the wrinkled face of the classic “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roller” Sting is the perfect example of #ageamazing, his healthy lifestyle shared with his wife, the producer and actor Trudie Styler seems to be the secret.
Sting’s Approach To Nutrition
Sting says he eats a mainly macrobiotic diet, which consists of lots of grains, and vegetables, avoiding processed foods that contain preservatives, as well as reducing the consumption of meat, dairy, and sugar.
Back in 1991 Sting and Trudie moved their family to Lake House farm, where they started to grow organic fruits, vegetables and herbs, rich in vitamins and free of chemical pesticides. This has enabled them to become almost self-sufficient, with a holistic approach as captured in the quote from Sting,
“We’re kind of self-sufficient in food, which is nice… the way we treat our own bodies is by extension the way we treat the planet. What we eat, the way we treat animals—they’re all linked. It’s consciousness, again”
The animals are fed organic hay, the chickens free range, have their own trout lake and beehives for honey.
“I decided that I would only be satisfied if I knew exactly what we were putting on our plates,” Styler writes in The Lake House Cookbook (Clarkson Potter), her 1999 organic farming and recipe book, written with family chef Joseph Sponzo.
Sting is a testament to the power of healthy consistency, as can be seen when on tour or travelling he keeps to his diet and exercise regime. Taking a personal chef with him on tour and even pulling his yoga poses in yachts. This is a long-term way of life, embraced by the whole family.
Watching Sting on stage inspired me to chat to Ganga White, Stings Yoga instructor who is a life long friend of Sting, who is a frequent visitor to White Lotus in Santa Barbara, a place I would love to visit. Here Ganga interviews Sting who shares his thoughts about Yoga and life.
The White Lotus retreat.
Ganga Speaks with Sting About Yoga & His Life
Ganga White is the Sting’s yoga instructor and friend who wrote the book, Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice.
Ganga: Many people have been inspired by and interested in your practice of Yoga. Can you tell us what brought you to Yoga?
Sting: I came to Yoga late in my life. I’m probably in my fourth year now, which would mean that I started when I was 38 or 39. It‘s actually my regret that I didn’t begin earlier. I think I would have been further along the path than I am now had I started earlier. But then again, perhaps I wasn’t ready. I have been through various fitness regimes before, you know. I used to run about five miles a day and I did aerobics for a while. I always stayed fit because I’m a performer and all of those things help me to perform. But it wasn’t until I met Danny Paradise, who became my mentor in Yoga, that I started the practice which I feel I will stay with for the rest of my life. I would like to. I feel it is a path that is involved enough to keep developing. It’s almost like music in a way; there’s no end to it. I think once you’ve run five miles in a reasonable time, as you get older, you can either sustain that time or it gets worse. That’s pretty frustrating. I think, if anything, one of the most exciting things about Yoga is that as I get older I seem to get better at certain parts of the practice, which is very inspiring. It makes you want to keep going. If anything, it’s reversing the ageing process. I can do things with my body now that I wouldn’t even have thought of doing when I was an athlete, a teenager. So that keeps me going. This is something I want to keep doing.
Ganga: Aside from all the health and fitness benefits, how has it affected your life in other ways?
Sting: One of the first questions I had about Yoga was that it seemed to take a long time to do the practice. It took an hour and forty or fifty minutes, sometimes two hours, to get through the whole thing. Danny said something to me, which at the time I didn’t believe but which is actually being confirmed. He said, “If you do this practice you will have more energy to do your other tasks throughout the day.” Time will expand to accommodate the practice, in other words. I have to say that that’s true. When I really do my Yoga in the morning, I have more energy in the day. I get more done. My mind is more composed. There are more benefits to it than I would have thought. They are not just physical, but mental and I am even coming to believe that they are spiritual. That’s a development in my thinking. The deeper you get into Yoga you realise, yes, it is a spiritual practice. But it’s a journey I’m making. I’m heading that way. It’s not the first reason I did it. But I suppose that as I get older and I get more contemplative the Yoga practice will take that on. Especially the breathing, which is linked very closely to meditation.
Ganga: I know you to be a person who inquires deeply into yourself and into life. This is a Jnana Yoga meditation practice called Vichara, enquiry. Do you see it as such? Has Yoga helped you with this?
Sting: Certainly it introduced me to a style of meditation. The only meditation I would have done before would be in the writing of songs. In the composing of music, you have to enter virtually a trance state to transmit songs. I don’t think you write songs. They come through you. It’s trusting that they exist out there and you have to be the transmitter. For that, you need a certain amount of mental purity. Yoga is just a different route to that same process. You’re taking something from our higher selves and putting it to use in normal life, I think. Does that make sense?
Ganga: Yes. Some musicians I’ve met find that when they begin meditation, silent meditation, they actually hear music within. Do you hear inner music?
Sting: I hear music all the time. Sometimes it drives me totally crazy. [laughs] In absolute silence I hear the music. I hear music, I hear rhythms, I hear bird song. I live in an aural world. It’s never totally empty. The Yoga can induce that state.
Ganga: Can you say something about some of the challenges you face at the moment in your Yoga practice?
Sting: One of the interesting things is that I am getting to know my body better than I ever had before and recognising that certain blockages in my practice are a result of some kind of psychological problems. The history of my life is written in my body, in my muscles. I’m very stiff in my hips. This is something I never knew before. I thought I was pretty loose. Some of the postures are so extreme they bring you up to face what you’ve done to your body. All those years of running must have taken their toll. I’m told that stiffness in the gluteus is about stubbornness–bloody-mindedness. So I’m working on that! You know, the intention, the long-term goal, is to become completely fluid, completely liquid and sinuous. As I get older I’d like to be that. I’d like to have explored the entire range of my body’s abilities. It’s not that I am afraid of getting old. I just want to get old in a certain way.
Sting: I want to get old gracefully. I want to have good posture, I want to be healthy and I want to be an example to my children. I’m working on it. I am certainly by no means pretending to be an adept or anything but a beginner. But really I feel I’m on a path.
Ganga: It’s said that you’ve experienced some joy from some of the esoteric teachings of Tantric love and sex.
Sting: [laughter] When I learned to do nauli (churning the stomach muscles) and the bandhas [Yogic locks], an achievement I was quite proud of, I also read that it was very good to use these techniques in sex. They allowed you to control the whole operation better and make love for longer, which I think has beneficial effects. There’s been a great deal of controversy caused by exactly how much longer you can go for, so I don’t want to get into that now! I’m in enough trouble! [laughter] But there are definitely beneficial effects to one’s sexual life. Especially when you have a good relationship with a good partner. It has had beneficial effect.
I should also point out that the members of my band do Yoga now. We do at least an hour and a half of Yoga before every concert, which I think probably, increases our cohesion as a group or as individuals. It certainly keeps us all fit. It’s not easy being on the road. You have strange hours and are offered strange food. It’s not the healthiest occupation. You spend every night up late and you drink alcohol or whatever. Yoga is a good balancing trick for all of us.
Ganga: In our meditation gathering last night, you expressed a realization about love and about applying it. Is there a chance of capturing a piece of it?
Sting: I think that in deep meditation, when you really face this enormity of eternity, you have to trust in something that will sustain you through that terror, through that fear. I’ve learned to trust in the power of love. Love for oneself, love for the people you’re with, your family, your friends. Love for simplicity, love for the truth. I think that without love, none of it makes any sense. It all sounds like a truism, you know. But it is true. Love conquers all. Amor vinciet onnia.
Ganga: Namaste and thank you Sting.
Thank you Ganga White for the insightful interview which originally featured on whitelotus.org