My yoga journey began about 11 years ago, not long after my Mum died. What began as a quest for physical exercise has, over the years, grown into a whole new path and way of life. I didn’t know it back then, but yoga taught me how to breathe again, literally and metaphorically. Nothing has ever made sense to me the way yoga does, and finding the flowing stillness of DRU felt just like coming home.
It all began with a Barbara Currie video from Woolworths. I no longer have a video player, Woolies has gone but my yoga practice, like Barbara Currie, is still going strong (www.barbaracurrieyoga.com). I never really took much notice of anything other than the physical workout back then. I never realised how powerful the breath could be or how much further I could go by turning my focus inward rather than letting my mind stray whilst my body went through the motions. As soon as I made that link it was as if something within me had been reconnected. I started to reawaken from a slumber I didn’t even know I was sleeping. Anyone who has ever practiced yoga, even just once through curiosity, cannot deny they felt something shift within them.
And so I practised with Barbara until the video tape started getting stuck in the player. After that I practised on my own for a while until I stumbled across Katy Appleton, well Katy Appleton’s book actually (“Introducing Yoga”), probably around the same time as she was making her name as yoga teacher to the stars (well Geri Haliwell anyway). I have since loaned this book to so many people and every time it returns to me a little more worn and I wear it some more. The sign of a good book in anyone’s terms.
And so university came and went and I kept up my yoga practice sticking to what I’d learnt and not really going any further. After university I found myself in India for a whole load of reasons other than yoga but of course yoga found me quite easily there and I took proper instruction from a real life yogi. I was only in India for 5 weeks but something shifted inside me and I began to see a little clearer that the secret to yoga wasn’t in the yogi’s wife sitting on my back forcing me to reach my toes. It was in the yogi’s wife sitting on my back focusing my mind to be in the present moment, clear, letting go.
After that I had a couple of years where yoga took second place to a relationship that taught me a lot about everything that is wrong with a relationship that is not right and a job that robbed me of any vision I might have had. I began to realise just what life would be like if I chose not to follow my heart. It was now up to me to decide whether I wanted to carry on having the life sucked out of me or make a run towards the rainbow before it disappeared forever.
I chose the rainbow and now I can’t even see the clouds for the sun in the rare moments when I do look back. Of course it wasn’t just yoga that lit up my life but it was always there as my silver lining. Yoga has a funny way of influencing your life and bringing in the happy.
It’s amazing how breaking away from something you see was no good for you can give you the confidence to go for something you know might be. It took me a while but I finally braved a proper yoga class at a proper yoga studio (www.yogaviva.com) with a proper instructor called Yana. As soon as I lay down on my mat, any apprehension (I’m not good enough, everyone’s going to be looking at me, I don’t have the right clothes blah blah blah) disappeared. Yana’s chant of “Om” washed over me and ran through me and I was home.
Yana’s beginner’s class on a Sunday morning became Liz’s intermediate’s on a Saturday lunch time which became Jodie’s more advanced on a Tuesday and Thursday evening with a few other’s in between. I learnt so much, not least that the more I knew the more I wanted to know and the more I wanted to share this knowledge with others. I wanted them to feel how I felt every time I stepped off my yoga mat and floated home. It was as if I took a little part of yoga with me wherever I went. I suppose I began to really live it without realising too much what I was doing.
But before this starts to sound too whimsical I must confess that I did, and still do, go through phases where I allowed life to prevent my practice. I missed classes, sometimes for a whole month, and I didn’t keep my home practice up. I lost my focus but I didn’t lose my love and enthusiasm for yoga.
In fact, it was my enthusiasm for, more than my practice of, yoga that sparked up a conversation that led to my first introduction to DRU and the beginning of a really great friendship.