A friend and I were talking about exercise the other day – what we like to do, how we would like to do more of it, reasons why we don’t (space, time, money, motivation, cold winter mornings).
“You can’t rely on motivation”, my friend said, “It’ll never be there when you need it. You have to get out of bed and J.F.D.I (just fucking do it).” So true!
I’ve been aware for some time now that my life is out of balance. I’m just not moving my body enough. I’m not a particularly active person – many of my favourite things to do involve sitting on my butt – writing, reading, talking, laughing, eating…but I do love to go for a walk in the morning, and I love yoga.
Yoga and I have known each other for a very long time. There was a little ashram an hour or so away from our house when I was little, and my mother used to take us there quite often. At the time, Mum was a complete yoga devotee and even taught classes, so yoga was very much a part of my childhood. I still remember crow walking around the lounge-room and doing the animal poses (lion, cat, cobra, frog) that are commonly taught to children. I did the occasional class in Sydney, but it wasn’t until I was 25 and I discovered Iyengar yoga that yoga and I finally moved from being an occasional acquaintance to good friends. I went every week; we moved away from the coast and into the hinterland where instead of taking 5 minutes to get to yoga, it took 45 minutes: I still went. I went to class while I was pregnant with both my babies, as well as having a regular practice at home. Then after the birth of my daughter, my husband was made redundant and we simply couldn’t afford it. Slowly but surely, without the ballast of the class, yoga slipped from my life.
I feel it. I feel it in my back, my shoulders, my internal strength, my lack of flexibility, my confidence in my body. I remember the original reason why I went to that first Iyengar yoga class. I had noticed a tendency to be rigid and inflexible within myself, and I wanted to change it. I thought that a good way of doing it might be to make my body more flexible, and that perhaps in that process, my mind would follow suit. It did. It’s true.
Yoga and I, we have had our arguments. Yoga tells me that it’s good for my body, self esteem and perspective for me to go upside down every now again. I disagree, and have told yoga so many times. Still, as with most of our arguments, yoga wins and upside down I go. Heavily, clumsily, reluctantly…but I do it. The great thing with Iyengar, of course, is that you are so supported, in whatever stage you’re at. Yoga helps me to be brave and strong.
I love yoga, and yoga loves me right back. When I walk into a class, no matter how long it’s been, all thought vanishes. Folding my body into the first position, I feel an enormous sense of gratitude and relief, like I’ve come home. My eternal self, my soul, rejoices. So to not have a regular yoga practice is truly an injustice to myself.
A couple of days ago, over the winter solstice, yoga and I met up again. At first I wasn’t quite sure if we would still like each other. We did. My yoga teacher held an overnight yoga workshop for women at a coastal retreat set in the rocky foothills of Mount Yarrahapinni. Where I live, the mountains are very close to the sea. Yoga, breathing, meditation, food, friends and not one but two blazing fires – one inside and one outside. Lighting our way through the longest night of the year. And – a whole room to myself! I woke up periodically through the night to remember that I had a bed to myself and that I was at a yoga retreat, grin happily, and then fall back asleep.
We breakfasted on local dragon fruit, longans and a coconut water and banana super-food smoothie, drank freshly brewed lemongrass tea and then did a 3 hour yoga class. I began to pay attention to my body, to all its awe-inspiring intricacies. How if I hold my left shoulder like this, it affects my right hip like that. The way when I rest my head with the skin of my forehead moving down, it turns my thoughts off like a tap. The way if I do 5 hours of yoga in a 24 hour period after not doing it for years, every muscle in my body hurts for days…
As my friend and I were driving dreamily away, back to our normal lives, she said, “I want to try to go to a yoga class every week. Why don’t we both go and share the driving?” Yes! Restraining my urge to throw my arms around her neck, I enthusiastically agreed. Yoga and I, we are definitely going to be best buddies again, and my body will be so happy.
You might like to read these articles about Iyengar yoga:
- Connect to Source Part 3: Iyengar Yoga (rainbowinclouds.com)
- How I Found the Yoga Practice that Worked for Me. ~ Elizabeth Farrell (elephantjournal.com)