The fact that I am writing about yoga on my blog / website is a surprise to me. 2 years ago I would have told you that yoga was all about men in orange robes and women who ate mung beans, chanting whilst wearing impossibly tight yoga pants and floating through life on Instagram. Today I am a yoga convert and there’s not a mung bean in sight!
I had my first brush with yoga about 10 years ago when I was on a ‘fitness rush’. You know, one of those times in your life where you have a very special occasion coming up and you want to look so much better than you normally do, so you rush into everything – every fad diet under the sun, and any exercise you can pack into your day, hoping against hope that this rush to get fit and slim will reap huge rewards in a minuscule amount of time.
My special occasion was my brother’s wedding which was being held in a chateau in France and where I was to be ‘best man / woman’. I was hugely honoured that he had put this faith in me and of course didn’t want to be the (literally) big sister that shone out of the wedding pictures due to my rather large proportions, and had to waddle up the aisle with him. Perhaps a little exaggeration – I didn’t actually waddle, but the tops of the legs did chafe!
So, amongst other things I started do yoga. It was ok, but was more of a ‘filler’ exercise, in between my swimming and treadmill obsession. I went to 2 different teachers, one who did a lot of core work and whose yoga class felt more like an aerobic workout, and another who seemed to get us under blankets on the ground as rapidly as possible, ostensibly to relax more I suspect to leave us dozing off whilst she checked her phone. Neither of these activities really grabbed me so my yoga journey didn’t continue on after my fitness rush. Until now.
I had some health problems a couple of years ago and the doctor ordered some healthy diet and exercise changes in my life. I say changes but I really mean introduction, as to be honest, looking at my diet as it was then, it wasn’t a healthy one, and exercise was just a word on a page and a vague intention. My car was even used to go to the local shop at the end of the road. So I went on an exercise discovery journey which wound it’s way through a wide selection of classes as well as some solitary activities.
Most of these were discarded quite quickly – I didn’t have the rhythm required for Zumba and jogging just plain bored me, but yoga rumbled on in the background. I went to a couple of classes, tried a couple of teachers and found one I liked, so kept on going. On my 3rd or 4th class with him, I had what can only be described as an epiphany as I came out of the class on a bit of a high. I had managed a pose whicha week before I had been unable to achieve, and all of a sudden, bending down to fasten my shoes wasn’t as much of a struggle. ‘Hmmm’ I thought to myself, ‘perhaps there’s something in this yoga lark’, so I upped my class count to 2 a week and then to 3 and before long I was up to 4 a week, and yoga well and truly came into my life.
Soon, I was delaying meeting my friends until later on a Friday night so I could attend my yoga class first, and I even curbed my party lifestyle on a Saturday night so I could find my balance on a Sunday morning (Nothing like attempting tree when the alcohol is still seeping out of your body before it heralds in the hangover). I toddled off alone on weekends, driving hundreds of miles in one day just to attend a yoga class or workshop that sounded of interest, and then I started to explore teacher training as my thirst to improve my knowledge of, and ability to do the asanas, heightened. From there (after about 18 months) I then began to pay more attention to the meditation and relaxation aspects of my practice which I had previously ignored, and I felt a shift in my thinking and attitudes- at times they were imperceptible but very very real.
There have been other subtle and not so subtle changes to my life that have happened over the last couple of years – most of which I attribute to yoga and how it has insinuated itself into my world. Of course there have been other forces at play, like the wisdom that comes with the experience of ever advancing years, but I cannot deny that yoga has well and truly changed my life for the better, and there’s not a mung bean in sight!