I used to think that people who practised yoga were all a bit ‘peace and love’, that to get the most out of it I should be a calm soul who serenely floats through the day until it’s time to get back on my yoga mat. I’m none of those things, I’m boisterous and noisy and can’t really remember a time my soul was anything but hectic.
Yoga always intrigued me but I felt like I wouldn’t be suited to the practice, and if I’m honest I was a little bit intimidated by the impression I had of it all. I realise I’m the same as most people who sit on the outside looking in and I want to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who may be interested in giving it a go, to give it a go. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
I try and make at least one class a week, and I can genuinely say I can feel the difference it’s made to my body and my mind. My posture is better, I walk taller after class, and I feel stronger. There are even times outside of my lesson when I can capture my meditation practice and still my mind by concentrating on my breath; I find this useful in stressful situations or the odd occasion when I need to ‘bite my tongue’. I feel more together than I have, and my body is much more flexible.
There are times after a class that I feel a calmness I rarely have any other time, it’s a sense of inner peace, almost a glow from the inside out. I understand that the release of endorphins after many types of exercise will create a feeling of wellbeing, I used to leave the gym mentally patting myself on the back for having been, and I enjoyed the euphoria it created for a while afterwards. For me yoga induces a different kind of ‘high’ a physical strength that emanates from my core, my posture is better, my shoulders are back, and I stand more upright, that in turn seems to give me a physical presence and creates a greater confidence of my place in the world.
I suppose what I’m saying is I do feel the peace and love!
Don’t be fooled into thinking that yoga classes are easy because they’re not. It requires concentration on breath and movement and fitting the two together, it is physically and mentally challenging. There are times when I’m in a difficult pose that I want it to be over so badly I have to grit my teeth to find the determination to carry on.
Don’t misunderstand me, the pressure to improve my skills doesn’t come from my teacher, it comes from me. We are encouraged to work within ourselves during our lessons, only to do what we feel we are able, but personally, that’s what makes me want to do better, and when my teacher comes to me to help me improve the depth or balance of a pose I accept her help gratefully.
Often I can start my class worrying about how I’m going to get the most out of it because all I can think about during meditation is what I need to get from the supermarket or my next deadline at work. I berate myself for not being able to concentrate on my breath and then the next thing I know my focus has shifted and my yoga brain clicks in. I’m applying Mula Bandha (pelvic floor lift) and my Ujjayi (controlled and expanded) breath even before I’m instructed to do so.
I’m not a perfect yogi by any stretch of the imagination I usually get to the end of my class and realise at some point I forgot all about my pelvic floor muscles when I moved my concentration onto something else. I frequently get half way through the class and wish it would be over so I can stop the ache in my body. When my teacher tells us that we are about to do our last downward dog of the day I mentally celebrate the end of the lesson being so close. (I’ve even been known to ‘woo hoo’ out loud in class.)
I don’t practice yoga at home because to be honest I don’t have the commitment or fortitude to make it happen. I prefer to go to classes at The Yoga School in Cairns where I meet like minded novice yogis and am guided through the practice by their skillful teachers.
Chatting to fellow students makes me realise that I’m not alone, we all have our limitiations, our challenges and our occassional wins where we feel like we are finally beginning to understand this mystical practice. I’ve learnt how the most difficult part of yoga is getting on the mat, i.e. actually leaving the house and making that short drive to the studio and having the determination to walk through the door!
After class the general consensus is always the same, we all feel better, more energised, more peaceful, more alive. “I really regret that yoga class.” said no one EVER.
My life is busy and I don’t get to practice as much as I would like, however it is an essential part of my weekly routine. I’ve made this commitment because I can feel the benefits in both my body and my mind, I enjoy it immensely and it generates a huge contentment in me.
In the words of Yoga’s most famous teacher BKS lyengar “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.”
Come and join me at The Yoga School, if you’re new take advantage of their new student special (also available to returning students who have been absent for 12 months) 14 days of unlimited yoga for $40.