I am sat here on my 49th birthday, reflecting on life, the universe and everything and as always happens at these moments, have started to contemplate yoga. It’s kind of a passion, I guess, but these days everybody is passionate about something, especially if they want to sell it to you. More than that, for me it is a compassion. A means of spreading the love, if you like: firstly towards oneself and expanding from there. It’s not being selfish, but what is the point of being outwardly compassionate if you are screaming on the inside?
What yoga isn’t, is getting into those weird and wonderful positions that those horribly flexible people can get into – having a leg behind the head isn’t the point, nor is balancing on one hand with the legs in lotus position whilst holding a glass of beer in the other hand…
For me, yoga postures are an aid to exploring the physical body. Being still at first, stopping, then gentle movement, being interested in how the body feels today, whether good or bad. Each in-breath and stretch creates space, and the out-breath lets go.
‘Breath in, expand – breath out, let go’ is a lifetimes worth of practice. And then as space is created in the body, this expands into the mind and the emotions. From experience, the best time to practice is when it is the last thing you want to do.
Now, let me make a confession – I drink alcohol (mostly in moderation, but not always!) and I eat meat (okay, 80% veggie and occasionally tempted by a full English…). But don’t let that get in the way.
So last night when I got home, I really thought I needed a beer, and then I got barked at by one of my daughters who had just had enough – she was stressed and tired, and so was in her room with her lights out trying to sleep, and it was only 6 o’clock!
And then she asked me if I was teaching yoga that night, but I wasn’t. So here was the choice – crack open a can of beer, or help my daughter shake off the fatigue. So, I put the beer back in the fridge, and the glass back in the cupboard (very reluctantly, I am no angel), got out the yoga mats and, joined by another one of my offspring, we simply practiced together. All three of us had had enough, but through stopping, stretching and breathing, we all emerged after just one hour, feeling calm, refreshed and relaxed. And I no longer needed that beer. In helping others, I helped myself – perfect!
So, what is yoga, anyway? For me, it’s about taking a little bit of time out and being compassionate to one and all. Quite simply, it is a means of emerging into the present moment.
Hi, I’m David and have been practicing yoga for about 20 years. My first teacher was the wonderful Mary Freeman who set me off on this journey. I then did a BWY Foundation course with Yoga Ted in Stockport, and went on to train with Sarah Beck, and qualified as a teacher through the British Wheel of Yoga in 2012. More recently, I have studied Synergistic Healing with Julie Guilliam in the Lake District, and find that energy healing and yoga are complimentary.
My philosophy is simple – stretch and strengthen the body, and relax the mind.