Yoga for me was always the result of an invitation. It was never something that I chose for myself. First, my daughter asked me. I went to local yoga classes with her when she was fourteen. I started to go on my own at other times too. But while I enjoyed it, I found that it wasn’t quite for me. Yoga required the letting go of all thoughts. My exercise to that point had mainly been walking. I liked to pound up and down the hills of my area working through my thoughts so that I could let them go when I was working. But in yoga, I was not supposed to think or work through anything. I struggled with this. After my daughter got out of the routine of going to yoga, I did too.
The next year, I made a new friend. She asked me to go to yoga with her. I did. I preserved for a while. It was a different style of yoga where you learnt a series of poses and had to master each pose before the teacher would let you progress to the next one. Surrounded by agile people competently working through the whole sequence, I stayed stuck on a few poses. Eventually, the centre closed down and I didn’t look for anywhere else to go.
A few years passed. Then an old friend of mine, Simonne, became a yoga teacher. She had always loved yoga and it had helped to calm her through some difficult years. Despite not being an early riser, I agreed to go to Simonne’s early morning classes.
Everything was different with Simonne. The room was a lovely enveloping space. Simonne lit the room with her smile and nurturing energy. She introduced each class with what we were going to focus on. For example, one class was on the “Third Eye Chakra”, the energy centre that gives creativity. Simonne brought head and heart to her classes with an intellectual appreciation of what the practice was for. I found I could do a lot of the poses and didn’t feel silly. Time passed without me hoping that it would go quickly. My thoughts started to evaporate. My body enjoyed the stretching and as the weeks passed, I found I could lift my arms higher and stretch out my legs further. I learnt new poses, gently moving into them with a sense of discovery rather than apprehension. The classes were against a backdrop of a playlist of pieces hand-picked by Simonne. The early pieces gave energy. The final pieces in Savasana (the corpse pose) had a feeling of hovering above the human condition.
At the end of Simonne’s classes, I felt a great sense of peace. My body felt totally stretched and it continued to feel toned and lithe all day; I did not have the frustrated muscles and urge to walk that I usually had in the afternoon. I felt a burgeoning of new ideas. My writing flowed more easily. I felt more creative.
After a few weeks, at the end of a class, as I lifted myself up from Savasana, I wanted to hold the moment, as though I were ready for meditation although I had never really meditated before. I realised that my head had emptied itself of its thoughts. The feeling of peace was with me during the day, although thoughts and work layered over it, it was still there in the substrata.
Now I return to yoga. My body craves the stretching. My mind embraces the discovery and challenge of the poses. My heart seeks the peace.
Yoga, this time I choose you.