I thought I would write a few words about how Yoga came into my life – it has turned into several paragraphs! To me it seemed a little indulgent first of all, but it may strike a chord with you so I have left it as I first typed it – a bit raw. x
I was born to a white middle class couple in the ’60s who did everything ‘by the book’, listened to the Beatles until they (the Beatles) found marijuana and the Maharishi, dad pursued his career and mum made sure his shirts were clean and ironed and there was tea on the table.
However there were hints that something less middle of the road was going on apart from the John Lennon ashtray. There was a Yoga book! I remember a brown cover that merged with the rest of the early ’70s. I have no idea where or when my mother practised Yoga but there was this book which I found fascinating. Towards the end of the ’70s and into the ’80s she would go to a local authority class held at a nearby secondary school. It was never talked about or mentioned, but it was there ….
I wasn’t drawn to a class myself until the ’90s but I loved trying the postures out of the book. In my early 20s, finding myself in a damp bedsit heated by a calor gas fire (which didn’t prevent the ice build up inside the windows but did promote the growth of mould on the walls) and I bought the Jane Fonda book – I didn’t get the leg warmers though and wasn’t interested in the aerobics nor in the ‘burn’. But I did love the stretches and holds and made the exercises into a practice of my own.
I have always struggled with extreme shyness, being a natural introvert, zero self esteem and self confidence. If ever I dared to voice an opinion it was always shot down by someone or other. I had been in trouble one way or another throughout my teenage years and into my 20s. I managed to get myself into plenty of scrapes, dabbled in drugs, drank too much, developed a 40 a day cigarette habit and was promiscuous (not believing anyone would actually contemplate a relationship with me). No excuses for this, nothing. But it did damage me. Depression, anxiety, drink dependence, low self esteem, swift marriage and swifter divorce, deeper depression, thoughts of suicide ………… Counselling was good, very helpful. Yoga was better …………..
I started with a book at home when I was pregnant, but gave up as I had SPD. I loved the breathing practices I found in the book which I carried on with, together with ‘legs up the wall’ which is still my favourite pose. Would I go to a class? No, no, no – no-one would want me in their class.
Following birth, I got back to fitness but still the mind wasn’t fixed. After a while, and counselling, I plucked up the courage to go to a daytime yoga class. Wow! Amazing, just what mind, body and soul needed ……….. but I didn’t stay. Back to a book at home as how could I possibly be in a Yoga class? No-one would want me in their class (what a silly idea that was – it was a great class aimed at older people and they were amazing and confident), so back to a book.
Fast forward a few years, helping to nurse my father through a horrendous illness, step children problems, more counselling. Dad eventually died and to help us through, mum and I enrolled in a Yoga class together. This was just what we both needed and was the beginning of healing. Quickly I started going to two classes a week, one Hatha and the other Ashtanga. I also started to meditate daily.
There were a few stops and starts – for example whenever the monkey on my shoulder told me I wasn’t good enough to be in a class. But eventually I learnt to tame the monkey. It still pops up but less and less these days.
Going on the BWY foundation course in 2009 was another turning point, from which there was no going back. Now I have the tools to cope and I trained to be a teacher to give something back, to try to help others that may be suffering in a similar way.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti