How we found ourselves doing this thing that my Dad still calls ‘yoghurt’ and my cousin still considers as purely a way to relax.
How can something be a spiritual journey for some, a path to physical beauty for others and a New Age chill pill to the rest?
What is it to you?
Back to me… The good thing about a blog, it always comes back to me…. I’d always had a bad back – too much sitting at a desk and studying, bad posture, horse riding accidents, car crashes and an unfortunate incident at Alton Towers.
At length I went to a chiropractor. A huge great big Dane with a strong accent and midsummer sky eyes. He told me that yoga would help keep my back strong and supple after his magic fingers had eased the pain.
I was in Peterborough at the time. I didn’t even look for classes. I’m not much of a joiner in. Instead, I went for videos. Yup, pre-DVD days.
Ali McGraw and Erich Schiffmann’s Yoga Mind and Body, Kisen’s Yoga for Weight Loss and Barbara Currie’s Power of Yoga. Ali McGraw did her rather lovely flow sequences in a desert. The ujjayi breathing sounded like the sea against the dunes and the dry wind blew the floaty blue and white clothes of the practitioners against their lean frames. At the end, in savasana, Erich said something about letting go…. “Love is what’s left when you let go of everything else.”
I never forgot that.
It was a beautiful video, definitely my favourite of the three, and doing that a few times a week kept my back relatively pain free.
More than fifteen years later (yes, I’m a slow developer), I thought classes might be a good
idea. I’d invested in a couple of books in the intervening period, practicing on and off. The trigger for finally joining in was related more to mind than body. I’d read that taking part in a group activity, even just once a month, increases your happiness more than a $10k pay rise. Geez, I thought, I could do with that kind of a boost.
The first class I chose was Iyengar. In my provincial town, on the one day I could usually
commit to, there were few options, but this was a winner. A pleasant group, a good teacher
and the cost?
A donation! Wicked!
Not many laughs, though, I have to admit. People were pretty serious about those poses. Teacher Mark would start by demonstrating. He had a perfectly proportioned little body under perfect control. Wee glasses, that somehow stayed on in utkatasana and he started each demo with a little unconscious sniff. I loved him.
For some reason, though, I moved on to Vinyasa Flow. I liked the way the teacher talked to us
about Yoga Philosophy. I liked setting intentions for practice. I liked her wide smile and her giggles.
And the musical accompaniment. On Valentine’s Day, her husband had chosen the playlist. Cue Kerry’s glorious laugh, “I’m sorry about the Barry White!” Then she went on maternity leave and this vision with the body of a gymnast came into the room.
She pulled off her jeans and stood there in three quarter leggings. “This might be a little bit morehardcore than you’ve been doing so far.” That was my introduction to Astanga.
“My God,” I thought, “I want to look like HER.”
Of course, once a week wasn’t going to do it… But now, with MML and the possibility of a
daily guided practice… I’ll be stunning soon, no?
The Secret Yogini