Life, yoga and other adventures

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Suffer the little children

I was lucky enough to be involved in an event in Northampton yesterday: Yoga in the Park, which coincided with International Yoga Day and the summer solstice. There was a tent dedicated to yoga activities for children, and I told the women running the sessions that I was in awe of their abilities, because although I have trained to teach yoga to teenies, I have decided that I don’t have what it takes. I was reminded of an article I had written for Om yoga & lifestyle magazine a while ago, in which I related the following anecdote. 

I was thinking that the class had gone well. First time with a new group of 11 students, all yoga beginners. We’d had a chat at the start to share our expectations and together had worked through the programme gently and with good humour – or so I thought. Then my ego got a jolt when a voice to my left said: ‘When is this Godforsaken class going to finish?’ 

I was rather taken aback but I wasn’t annoyed, because the person with this brutally honest approach was only four years old. I was taking a class with a group of primary school pupils. I was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t crying out for more (and I wondered where he’d heard that particular turn of phrase), but I just smiled at him and reassured him that it was nearly home time, which seemed to pacify him. I just hope that his experience with me hasn’t put him off yoga for life.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Any way the wind blows

My class had been lying in a beautiful semi-supine position, breathing gently just to be there, tuning in and scanning their bodies to see how they were feeling that day in body and mind. All was calm. 

In preparation for what was to come, I suggested they bring their knees over their chest and hug them in close, perhaps with a little circling and gentle rocking. Suddenly the serenity was disturbed by a thunderous anal raspberry. Not for nothing is this position called apanasana, the wind-reliever. There was a pause before she who dealt it said, ‘Sorry, girls. Just getting the energy moving!’ Thus the tension was broken and we were given permission to laugh.

Something else that cannot be controlled, no matter how we try, is when and where we drop off to sleep. On one occasion, I suggested to a habitual snoozer that she might try to relax on a chair, rather than lying down. I hoped it would help her to stay awake. I guided the class to that point where I stop talking and they take themselves to a place of stillness. With every out breath, my chair-bound student leaned a little bit further to the left. I crept over to her, not sure whether to wake her up or just get ready to catch her. Just when she seemed to have reached tipping point, she righted herself and started to lean the other way. She continued to move precariously from one extreme to the other, never quite toppling and never opening her eyes. At the end of the session she declared herself to be satisfactorily refreshed.
It’s amazing what a body can do when it’s uninhibited, so is it possible that we put up obstacles in our yoga practice that our body would overcome if left to its own devices? If you know you have creaky knees, for instance, do you shy away from postures that challenge them because you think you won’t be able to do them? Do you tell yourself you can’t balance and instead go straight to the wall for support whenever anyone says ‘Tree’? 

Stop thinking about it and simply trust your body. It might just come up trumps.