Have you ever tried Friendly Yoga?
The flyer in the shop window said “local friendly yoga classes – Beginners”. Since leaving school I have made my own competitive sport out of avoiding any kind of physical exercise, dancing included. (Why do fun people at parties always make it their mission to get the non-dancers up on the dance floor? Please stop!) My brain doesn’t quite connect to my limbs; it’s not pretty, although can cause mild amusement for others. I’m slightly better when drunk. At dancing, haven’t tried exercising. Avoidance always seemed less painful.
My rather clumsy inner child; that only had to look at a fragile object to shatter it into a million little pieces, that couldn’t catch couldn’t throw and was always chosen begrudgingly second from last for school sports teams even though her cousin was team captain, felt not bitter but ever so slightly bruised. Add to this sixty driving lessons. And the cries of utter despair at my total lack of coordination by Eric the driving instructor. And a humiliating experience ONCE In the early nineties when I tried Aerobics with my mother in law. (She has only recently stopped laughing). And you should get the picture. Being naturally thin and always very active at work. I could just avoid actual exercise, couldn’t I?
But friendly Yoga, I liked the sound of it and was inexplicably compelled to investigate. I knew nothing about Yoga other than the fact that Madonna and Gwyneth did it and looked fabulous and toned. I’d occasionally thought about giving it a try. Probably because Madonna and Gwyneth looked so fabulous and toned. Oh and didn’t you learn how to breathe? Interesting, well that couldn’t be too hard surely?
So In March 2012 age 41, Epping housewife, mother of four I decided to take the plunge. Tuesday night Yoga class a few minutes from home (so no excuses). I rallied the troops (some mum friends and my actual mum) and off we went. (Yes I am a coward)! It was also the Yoga instructors first ever class teaching. Since getting to know her well and becoming friends she has confessed to being nervous due to the over whelming enthusiasm for her friendly yoga and the large turnout of would be yogis. She was expecting three or four. Needless to say I was ridiculously bad. Unable to distinguish my left from my right, or my cat from my cow! As for this breathing business (HELP ME!!!!). I nervously laughed my way through class and felt sick (like travel sickness) which was odd and when it was over I asked Amy if I could come back the following week. (I was that bad)! Kindly she said of course. She obviously really needed students at that point in her fledgling career as Epping’s latest Guru. (And she is very kind).
One class a week turned to two. As Amy expanded her teaching schedule, I became addicted and now regularly practice Four times weekly, more if I can. Amy Bramble offers her students a mix of Yoga philosophy, mantras, mudras and meditation within her class plan. As a spiritual soul interested in all things esoteric this is the cherry on top of the cake. I find the teachings from Patanjali, Chakra work and meditation techniques are as beneficial as the asana practice. It’s all yoga. Even the pranayama became less daunting. Ujjayi breath still remains a mystery, I have no control. The more I try the less it comes. It controls me and takes me over from time to time. What a glorious gift. I was quickly becoming a yoga bore (a friend said) on a mission to recruit the whole of Epping and bring them to friendly Yoga too. Everyone should be on the yogic path….Wished I’d stumbled on to it earlier.
Still everything happens in life precisely as and when it should. The Gods and planets synchronized perfectly so that I should find myself in Amy’s first class. She was exactly the teacher I needed, I am eternally grateful for her patience and skill. My aversion to exercise was more about feeling vulnerable and fear driven. I rarely step out of my comfort zone. Not known for my competitive spirit; I could probably use a little more ego and grasping. I’m going to need it if I want to stand on my head. My go with the flow approach to yoga and life can be both a blessing and a curse. I do my best but some things and (postures) are just not meant for us. (LOL)So I let them go (maybe sometimes to easily).
I love Hatha yoga it is slow and steady. I like its gentle pace. Since becoming a yogi I am now aware that Madonna and Gwyneth practice Ashtanga (that’s why they are super fit) so my toning may take a little longer. Amy once said “that yoga makes you strong from the inside out, it comes from within” I love that, it is exactly how it feels. It builds strength and flexibility slowly slowly. I need to work on my attachment issues- from where I place my mat (next to Sue) to Amy (and my reluctance to try new styles or teachers). Is that fear again or contentment? I like what I like (that’s me).
I’m committed… I show Up… I practice and hopefully all is coming. I keep within my mat. I’m strong and steady with freakishly long arms (this makes up for my lack of bendiness!) parts of me don’t move very much but I’m injury free from my lack of previous physical activity. So no aches or pains or dodgy knees or bad back; which enables me to have a go at most postures. I don’t compare. I can work towards the challenging poses. A seventy year old can be more flexible than the twenty year old sitting behind them. A person that can contort their body like a pretzel may not be able to stand on one leg for more than a breath and the flying pigeon amongst us may find it impossible to surrender into savasana. Everyone can be good at something. Going to yoga is never a chore, something I feel I should be doing. It’s a treat, me time, a workout for every fibre of my being. Creating space and clarity. Whilst stretching and toning the body. And I can guarantee yoga will improve your ability to tell your left from your right (hooray).
I have read somewhere that you will only practice yoga if you have done so in a previous life. This kind of makes sense, as yoga is such a love it or loathe it form of exercise, not much middle ground. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not; I personally feel at home on the mat. It’s my happy place. I have definitely been here before. If I’m wrong at least I have something good to look forward to in my next life.