For Mother’s Day this year, the kids gave me a voucher for an introductory offer to a local yoga studio. The offer was unlimited classes for a month. I have taken full advantage of this and have tried out various yoga practices as well as pilates classes, yoga for back care, and a ‘roll and release’ class. My previous experience of yoga practice was a term of classes in the office. Not exactly a holistic experience, having to move the tables and chairs to one side, exposing the grey corporate carpet tiles on which to flick my mat onto, at the same time being careful not to ‘downward dog’ onto the electricity pits. The session was accompanied by the hum of the office lighting and the tick-tick of high-heels down the hallway. No dim lights or scented candles here.
My health and fitness have always been of a physical nature; we weren’t brought up learning about our mental and spiritual wellbeing (well I wasn’t). As a result, for me, yoga has always carried the ‘alternative’ label.
With age, and wisdom, and the obvious need for me to look deeper into what was causing such extreme symptoms of peri-menopause, I found myself looking inwards. I’ve never been any good at doing that. Turns out that being stressed and feeling anxious have contributed hugely. It was time for me to learn how to de-stress and bring calm into my life.
So what is yoga? I looked it up. Originating in ancient India, and according to Yoga Australia, “yoga cultivates health and wellbeing (physical, emotional, mental and social) through the regular practice of a range of many different techniques, including postures and movement, breath awareness and breathing exercises, relaxation and concentration, self-inquiry and meditation.”
I’ve learned a lot about breathing and visualising. I have been pleasantly surprised just how quickly I am feeling calmer and more relaxed. I have particularly enjoyed Yin Yoga; it is a slower yoga with longer holds (a few minutes) which work deep into the poses and targets the connective tissues, ligaments, and joints. it is calming and relaxing. We end each class with Shavasana. On researching for this post, I discovered that this is known as the corpse pose; if you picture the chalked outline of a corpse on the pavement, that’s how you lie! It’s a mix of relaxation and meditation. I have also ended practice with a collective om. I was self-conscious, not sure if I was doing it right and not sure what exactly it was meant to mean, symbolise or make me feel.
The other night I was having restless sleep, being awake long before it was time to be. I decided to concentrate on breathing and visualisation to help me drop off again. My monkey mind had taken over and it took a while to take control. Just as I was in the floaty state of dropping off, I had a vision of the treetops gently swaying in the breeze, the green leaves shimmering in the warm sunlight – I wasn’t consciously thinking this, it just transitioned into my mind. I was so surprised that my eyes shot open and I nearly exclaimed out loud with excitement. I wanted to nudge Chief awake and tell him. I was awake for ages after that, excited that my mind was being peaceful on its own.
I’ve come to the end of my voucher use but will be continuing the practice of the ancient art of yoga and continue learning and developing. So thanks to my children for allowing me to pause and breathe. Namaste.