Yoga means union…
I dabbled a bit in yoga over the years. From the odd class at the local gym to the course I signed up for and never returned to after week one (as I rolled out my mat the teacher told me, “You can’t go there – Melanie goes there every week”…) Then there were the drop-in classes at the centre full of serious yogis – intimidated, inflexible and practically incapable of walking the next day, I decided this yoga thing definitely wasn’t for the likes of stumpy, overweight, unfit me. Definitely not…
Cut to about four years later. Plagued by back pain and stress, I saw something on TV about an American guy who lost loads of weight and cured his back pain with Bikram yoga. “I want to try that!” But there were no studios around that were practical for me to get to. Then within weeks, as if by magic, a studio opened in my area. I went to my first class full of anticipation and…
I thought I was going to throw up.
Then I thought I was going to pass out.
I lay on the mat wondering if this was what dying felt like. I mentally divvied up my possessions between my family and friends.
“What sicko would do this for fun?!”
A smile spread across the teacher’s face. “Come back tomorrow,” he said, warmly.
I did. And I was hooked.
I did the 30 Day Challenge. I practiced regularly. My back problems vanished. My body changed. My mind became clearer, I slept better, I got ID’d in the supermarket when I tried to buy booze… (with hindsight, me hugging the cashier when she refused to sell me a bottle of red wine without proof of being over the age of 25 should probably have given her a clue that I was telling the truth about my age…). Friends and colleagues looked at me strangely as I raved about the joys of practicing yoga in 40 degree heat. It was all bliss until work became super busy. My practice was the first thing to go. My high stress levels rapidly returned along with my back pain. It took a year of trial and error for me to get the lesson that my life was better with a regular practice.
About three and a half years of regular Bikram practice later, something shifted in me. I still loved practicing in the heat but I began to yearn for something more. Something less dogmatic. A way to deepen my practice.
A Google search led me to a new studio that was due to open in my area in just a week’s time. Serendipity! That’s how I came to find the place that’s become my current yoga home. A place with wonderful teachers whose kindness, encouragement, warmth and humour I continue to be touched by with each class I do.
So, ‘Yoga’, the thing I originally hoped would help with my back problems and to – let’s be honest – shift some excess weight, has become about so much more for me. I may not have perfect postures (or even be anywhere near getting into others), but that doesn’t matter. It’s as though each posture possesses a lesson that can’t be rushed.
Yoga means union. Union of mind and body. So maybe I was naïve not to imagine that it would eventually find its way into my head and heart. I’m very glad it has. I’m looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me.